STEPPA partners gathered in Italy

By Henna Konu.

Partners from Finland, UK, Latvia, Spain, Italy, Slovak Republic and Germany gathered to 3rd STEPPA project meeting in Italy. The meeting took place in Adamello Brenta Nature Park (PNAB) in the Alps. The meeting had five main themes: Charter Part II process, business survey, customer survey, online platform/communication and final meeting.

Xavier Font from Leeds Metropolitan University presented the second draft of accreditation manual of CP2. Partners’ comments were discussed and finally it was agreed to include six main themes in the manual. More detailed criteria and guidelines will be attached as guiding notes. The six main criteria were tested during a field trip in PNAB when businesses and other actors involved with the local sustainability scheme, Qualitá Parco, were interviewed.

Xavier Font presented preliminary results of the ongoing business survey. Data for the survey are gathered till the end of May. At the moment over 50 parks are involved to the survey all over Europe. Business research aims to evaluate sustainable management practices and performance of small and micro enterprises in Charter PAs, as well as drivers and barriers for change. The research instrument includes both questions on the sustainability practices of the businesses, their business performance (occupancy rates, room prices, price variation by seasons, business success), and their business characteristics (n rooms, n employees, type of market, marketing channels).

Henna Konu from University of Eastern Finland presented the updated versions of customer surveys. Customer research aims to get customer point of view on implemented sustainable tourism approaches. It is important to recognize if sustainable tourism schemes used in Charter PAs and business/parks Charter partnerships create added value to customers and hence strengthen the competitiveness of small and micro size enterprises in nature tourism sector. The research instrument includes questions on issues such as tourists’/visitors’ interest to act sustainable way when they are travelling, their opinions about ecolabels and sustainability schemes, if they recognize sustainable businesses when they travel and how satisfied they are with the services provided in the area. The online survey for potential customers and previous visitors starts during April and it will lasts till the end of June. The survey on-site starts during the spring or early summer in the areas and lasts till the end of July.

Project partners had also a snow shoe experience in the Alps. In the end of the excursion where partners were visiting Qualitá Parco businesses were organized a dinner in a mountain hut. To reach the hut partners needed to practice walking with snow shoes as the hut was located in a mountain on the shore of Lake Nambino. In the hut partners were provided a dinner including local specialties. The trip down from the mountain were also done by show shoes and using individual headlamps.
More information about STEPPA activities can be found here.