Prof. Dr. Milena Dragićević Šešić, former President of University of Arts, Belgrade (2000-2004), now Head of UNESCO Chair in Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation, professor of Cultural Policy & Cultural Management, Cultural studies, Media studies. Member of National Council for Science (2006-2010); board member of the Cultural Policy Research Award (European Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam); the European Diploma in Cultural Project Management (Foundation Marcel Hicter, Bruxelles); Interuniversity Center Dubrovnik. Expert in cultural policy and management for European Cultural Foundation, Council of Europe, UNESCO, Foundation Marcel Hicter, Pro Helvetia, British Council etc. Realized and developed more than 50 projects in cultural policy and management – policy training, strategic management & capacity building training (India, Cambodia, Arab countries, Central Asia, etc.
Cultural tourism on the European peripheries:
Heritage & spectacle as identity pillars of small European cities
The focus of national cultural policies in the last two decades had gone from the arts and cultural participation toward more complex issues of regional and local cultural development. At the same time, cultural policies are less concerned with (re)construction of national cultural identity but more about development of quality of life and wellbeing of population on its territory. Thus, different public policies are developing mutual strategies and synergies in ensuring sustainable regional development: among them tourism policy, cultural policy, and policy of urban and rural development that are often jointly conceptualized. This is reinforced by numerous international conventions (the UNESCO Convention for the protection and the promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions 2005; the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003; the Council of Europe’s FARO Convention - Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society 2005; European Landscape Convention 2000). All of them insist on policies and measures that should be implemented to integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks, supporting at the same time sustainable system of governance for culture and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The EU, in its different programs and strategies, recognises the importance of culture (including both heritage and contemporary arts) as the major part of the European tourism experience. Simultaneously, cultural tourism is seen as the factor that can raise the profile, “the brand” of Europe as a global tourist destination. Taking in account that the European Commission “supports the areas of cultural tourism that have the greatest potential for growth”, the risk of overtourism is becoming greater and greater (TRAN committee 2018).
Thus, it is of the key importance to develop cultural tourism strategy connecting European peripheries that are out of the sight of important developmental policies of nation states and the EU. Major role in this process rely on small cities, Europolises (Hristova et al. 2015). Constructing and reconstructing small city identities usually relies on their heritage but it wouldn’t be enough without making it attractive for at least certain groups of tourists. Festivals, fairs, carnivals, commemorations, and different forms of traditional and contemporary celebrations and festivities are acting as motors to grow community self-confidence and, at the same time, as destination branding activities.