1.1. Mapping and selection of local marketable tourism products
This is the first activity that will be conducted, after setting up the project structure. The project staff and the four partner LAGs will engage themselves into mobilising all relevant stakeholders in the municipalities so they come up with proposals about tourism products with market potential. For this reason, a workshop in each municipality will be organized (four in total), where brief information about the project will be provided as well as the expected outcomes of the workshop. The workshop should end with a list of all potential products.
After this, experts in tourism and local economic development will be engaged to review the list, visit places, meet and discuss with relevant people, consider strengths and weaknesses and conceptualize the tourism products. They should prepare product concepts containing all necessary information about the products that should be communicated with the LAGs and other local stakeholders as a basis for selection of those that will be developed.
The last step herein is the actual selection. Each LAG will organize a workshop in its municipality, present the product concepts and will prioritize the products. The top rated products will certainly be passed on to the next stage of development, while the second and the third product will be discussed and decided upon from representatives of the four LAGs. A total of 8 products would be the maximum that the project can reasonably work with. That would mean 2 per each municipality, although there might be some exceptions. Here it must be understood by all parties involved, that this is market development project, hence decisions must be made bearing in mind the real market potential of certain product and not the individual wishes by the municipalities nor the preference to reciprocal distribution of products.
1.2. Development of local tourist products
The products that pass the (previous) initial stage of selection, will then undergo product development. The experts will be expected to finalize the conceptualization of the products in a “product development sheet”. The sheet would actually be a marketing plan containing solutions how each product should be marketed, which clients are best to be targeted in the short- and in the long-run, what would be short-term and long-term improvements that need to be made (including specific training needs), what different types of sub-products/services can be offered to increase the income that various businesses may earn (directly such as restaurants, but also indirectly such as local shops, farmers etc.).
These sheets will be finally presented to the LAGs and other relevant stakeholders for feedback (on meetings in each municipality). The feedback will be taken into account for eventual fine tuning.
The project staff will use the product development sheets as a roadmap for organizing the structures around each product. They will cooperate with relevant stakeholders and help them make the necessary preparations for bringing each product to the market.
For example, if chestnut day is being marketed as local event, then the staff together with the LAG and the municipality should make all the necessary arrangements. They may include: selecting a venue for the event, organizing chestnut exhibition and sale, organizing sale of other products and services from the region, ensuring participation of relevant people from the region (the mayors of the municipalities, businesspersons, probably even central government representatives), media coverage and publicity. It is assumed that the organization will be much smoother for the second- or third-year events.
The project very much relies on close cooperation with LAGs and municipalities. This is because taking ownership over these events by local stakeholders will determine the future and the sustainability of these events.