Problems and Purpose
Veneto continues to be the first tourist region in Italy and among the first in Europe with over 16 million annual arrivals. However, the growth in arrivals does not correspond to a growth in profitability, while its environmental and social impact increases. Bicycle tourism represents one of the possible responses for policies that aim to improve the quality of the offer rather than increase flows.
This case is part of the regional strategy for the tourism cycle which saw the Veneto Region - Tourism and Veneto Promotion Directorate create a wide range of tourism promotion tools and numerous training and territorial animation activities.
In particular, the specific objectives of the survey were:
- Describe and analyze cycle tourism in Veneto through the involvement of 35 experts in the sector (private tour operators and managers of public bodies). With a Delphi survey we tried to know the tourist profile, receive an opinion on what the Veneto Region has done in the implementation of the regional strategy and collect technical indications for a future development of the sector (Burighel et al., 2015, p. 5).
- Present the results of the information course which saw the participation of about 250 stakeholders carried out in the seven Venetian provinces. With a qualitative analysis of the proposals it was possible to collect precise indications for improving the cycle network and the promotional-marketing tools (Ib.)
- Evaluate the degree of knowledge of the regional strategy for the promotion of cycle tourism by tour operators (Ib.)
- Create a network between the Region and tour operators active in cycling tourism in Veneto (Ib.)
As part of the EU INTERREG IVC program (2007-2013) in 2013-2014 the CHARTS (Engaging Culture and Heritage for Sustainable Tourism Development) project was carried out where, among the 10 partners, the Veneto Region played the role of referent of good practice (for the purpose of transferring to other interested entities) for its cycling tourism policy (Veneto Region, 2014, p. 8). In this project some results emerged that needed to be consolidated:
Cycle tourism promotion depends on many factors related to the local systems governance. By being a popular form of tourism in the area, cycle tourism require a participatory process involving many stakeholders and its development often depends on political choices and technicalities not involved with tourism. In particular, we encountered some difficulties with the organizations managing watercourses (Ib., Cit., P. 28).
In light of these experiences, it was decided to continue the relationship between the Region and the University of Padua, this time with the spin-off Etifor Srl, which was asked to conduct a survey to evaluate the Venetian strategy, identify indications for future developments and to create a network between the Region and tour operators active in cycling tourism in Veneto (Burighel et al. 2015, p. 4-5).
Background History and Context
The cycle tourism promotion program and the enhancement of the cycle network has a long history of elaborations, projects of the European Union and various studies, which appear rather redundant, but actually focus on different aspects over delayed times, paying for a delay in adoption. more incisive and inclusive participatory tools both in terms of subjects and themes. In particular, since 2009, given the inclusion of these regional development projects in the wider context of the development of rural areas of the European Union which includes the LAGs (local action groups) genarati of the Leader and Leader + funding program, analyzes and actions were carried out, always with territorial marketing approaches, with the involvement of local actors.
The project was born during the long presidency of Giancarlo Galan, who won the elections in 1995 and remains in office for 3 terms, until 2010, the year in which it will not be re-proposed by his party (Popolo delle liberty) in favor of Luca Zaia (Northern League ), currently (2017) in office in his second term. In 2014 Galan will be arrested for corruption, extortion and money laundering in relation to the investigation into the contracts for the MOSE (the large mobile barrage under construction to solve the problem of the - too - high - tides in the Venetian lagoon).
The regional council, with resolution no. 3717 of 6 December 2005, approved the interregional project "Cicloturismo", financed with state funds pursuant to Law 135/2001, with the aim of improving the cycling offer and allowing the discovery of the territory in a "gentle" and ecological way. In addition to Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardy, Sardinia, Umbria and Tuscany also participate in the interregional project as leader. A part of the project activities are common, managed directly by the lead Region, and a part is managed independently by each participating region. (Del. GR 1807/2010, p. 1). As part of the common activities, a preliminary analysis was carried out from which it emerged that the sector was growing and cyclists came from Northern European countries in search of attractive itineraries from a cultural and landscape point of view, where they can ride in safety and tranquility ( Ib).
A marketing study was then launched in 2009, entrusted to the Department of Territory and Agro-forestry Systems of the University of Padua (TESAF). The aim was to identify some itineraries easily identifiable by the cyclist without neglecting the network of cycle paths that could become the object of an offer at a later time, when the tourist was in the area. For the elaboration of the Veneto cycle tourism enhancement plan, on-site meetings were held with authorities and operators in order to illustrate the project and receive practical information from a "participatory planning" perspective; the detection of the itineraries therefore took place through direct contact both with the provinces, the LAG Local Action Groups and the Park Authorities, and with cycling associations, tour operators, educational farms and naturalistic-environmental guides (Ib. . 2). At the end of this activity, in July 2010, with the new Zaia-led council recently established, the Veneto cycle tourism enhancement plan (Del. GR 1807/2010) was approved, which includes: itineraries, excursions with relative maps, tourist characteristics and potentials and the criticalities of the individual routes. In addition, a concerted implementation program with the Venetian Provinces is in place for the implementation of promotion, publication and advertising actions for the tourist product, any refurbishment works for the safety of the routes (€ 310,000) (Ib. P. 4). The regional plan of tourist signage (Del. GR n ° 179/2012) and a program of actions for the promotion of cycling tourism "Veneto Bike" (Del. GR n ° 2098/2013) are completed.
After this experience, the Veneto Region, as part of the EU INTERREG IVC program (2007-2013), in 2013 enters as a lead partner in the CHARTS project (Engaging Culture and Heritage for Sustainable Tourism Development) where, among the 10 partners, the Veneto Region plays the role of good practice referent (for the purposes of transfer to other interested entities) for its cycling tourism policy (Veneto Region, 2014, p. 8).
In addition to the Region, the provincial bodies (in particular the Province of Venice) have also given continuity to the initiative, in line with the regional plan, identifying further excursions and producing cartographic material, guides and brochures.
In the light of these experiences, it was decided to carry out between the Region and the University of Padua, this time with the spin-off Etifor Srl, the project for evaluating and relaunching the cycle tourism plan, examined here (Burighel et al. 2015, p . 4-5).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Veneto Region - Tourism Department is the body that financed the project and promoted it together with Veneto Promotion, a joint-stock consortium company set up by the Region and Unioncamere del Veneto in 2011 (Burighel et al., 2015, p. 4 ). The Tourism Department oversees the financing and draws up the Plan, Veneto Promotion takes care of the advertising material, the printing of brochures, while Etifor SrL, a spin-off of the 'University of Padua, Department of Territory and Agro-forestry Systems (TESAF); the latter had already conducted a participatory research from 2009 to 2010, carried out for the purposes of the construction of the Strategic Plan of cycle tourism and its main achievements, consisting of 2 sub-projects approved from 2012 to 2013 (see History).
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participants in the first part of the survey using the Delphi method are 35 out of 44 experts in the sector (private tour operators, managers of public bodies, association representatives) contacted and invited to fill in the questionnaires (the Delphi method consists in filling in several questionnaires in different times) by the curators of Etifor. The selection of the sample on a reasoned basis was carried out on the basis of the topics concerning the expected responses and quantified on the basis of the sub-category to which the tourism sector belongs (large tour operators, small tour operators, hoteliers, product clubs, bike renters, public piste managers, IAT Offices (Tourist Information and Reception Offices), FIAB (Italian Federation of Friends of the Bicycle) as well as on territorial coverage (Burighel et al. 2015, pp. 15-16). how the contact lists were drawn up.
Among the participants in the provincial focus groups, representatives of associations and committees for the landscape and mobility are lacking, in fact the objectives are much more oriented to the creation of a tourist destination product, therefore to a response in terms of growth of the sector than to local cycling mobility. In this way, opportunities can be lost to build integrated policies and optimize the multiple functions of the infrastructures.
Methods and Tools Used
"The Delphi technique is a structured process for the collection of knowledge in order to reach the convergence of opinions and to achieve a consensus among a group of experts, heterogeneous within them, through a series of questionnaires that evolve based on the answers obtained in the Previous "rounds." Developed at the beginning of the Cold War with the aim of predicting the impact of technology in war, the method was conceived and developed by the Study and Research Office of the Rand Corporation in 1959, by several scholars among which Olaf Helmer, Norman Dalkey, and Nicholas Rescher. Experts are invited to give their opinion on certain issues, both in qualitative and quantitative terms, in a first questionnaire. The answers are collected anonymously and reworked in a second questionnaire that is again administered to the panel of experts. This process is repeated several times until a consensus of opinions is reached. incipal of this technique is based on the fact that the experts never interact with each other directly, but by reading the aggregate answers of the other interviewees they manage to do so indirectly, modifying their opinions where they do not coincide with the group average "(Burighel et al., pp. 14-15).
The focus group method allows you to bring together a group of people and start a discussion with them around a desired theme, thanks to the leadership of a facilitator who is called to stimulate the discussion through questions and verify that everyone can express their opinion. Through this methodology it is possible to collect different opinions, stimulate a comparison and explore different points of view.To facilitate the discussion, post-its can be used, which allow those who are not comfortable speaking in public to express their opinions and those who have difficulty in synthesis to reflect on what is the fundamental concept they want to express (Ib., p. 17).
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The cycling tourism policy in Veneto has been set with a view to a continuous process with an indefinite term. The actions described here come after several years of launch, after planning and implementation, commitments aimed at coordinating the entire regional territory.
In the case of the cycling tourism survey, the research questions focused mainly on 3 points (Burighel et al., P. 15):
1. Define the profile of the cyclist in the Veneto Region, both in terms of slow biking and road and mountain biking 2. Understand what are the strengths and shortcomings of the Veneto region in order to meet the needs of tourists and operators operating in the sector 3. Know the characteristics of the flows of users of the main itineraries and excursions identified by the Veneto Region.
The survey campaign was aimed at involving experts from the tourism sector (including managers of boat transport services, as indicated by the difficulties encountered in the EU CHART project) and cycling with the Delphi method. The questionnaire was sent by e-mail following an individual telephone notice. Although only 29 answered (plus another 6 unspecified), it was still possible to cover all categories (Ib.). The phases of the development - used in this case - are summarized in the following points: - Definition of the problems to be investigated;
- Selection of the panel of experts, making sure that they are representative of the opinions of the population - Drafting of the questionnaire for the "first round"; transmission of the same to the panel of experts by mail or post, after a telephone call; - Collection of answers and analysis; If consent is reached, the process ends; conversely, the questions with greater divergence are reworked and submitted in a "second round": the last two steps are repeated in several "rounds" until the variability of the answers decreases significantly (Ib.). With the first Delphi survey, after only two 'rounds' of questionnaires, a quick consensus of the experts was obtained; the result made it possible to have a profile of cyclists, a feedback on the knowledge of cycling routes, an order of priority with respect to the most attractive current and future itineraries. Furthermore, for all four itineraries and for the three excursions, the strengths and weaknesses and priorities for their improvement have been identified (Ib.).
The second part of the survey was attended by 248 operators who were invited to meetings held in the provincial capitals and were conducted by adapting the focus group method.
The invitations were addressed always taking into account the representativeness of the participant with respect to the following professional categories: Managers or technicians of the Province, hospitality operators, local DMO (Destination Management Organization), tourist guides, tour operators, service companies, LAGs (Groups of 'Local Action for Rural Development), park managers or technicians, Associations (eg FIAB), municipal staff, (Burighel et al., 2015, p. 15-16).
It is not clear from the documentation whether there were foreign tour operators among the experts and operators involved and in any case it is not explained how some cycling tourists, in particular those coming from abroad, were not involved with questionnaires or interviews.
In the case in question, more in detail, "we proceeded by dividing the participants in the meetings into two or three groups, on the basis of different criteria depending on the type of participants present at each provincial meeting, in order to make the groups as homogeneous as possible. possible within them (with respect to territorial origin, interest in the itineraries proposed by the Region, interest in slow / mountain / road tourism products). Each group was managed by a facilitator who, depending on the size of the groups formed, proceeded to a 'possible further division into subgroups to facilitate discussion "(Ib.). Participants were then invited to reflect and discuss some essential elements of the tourism product by analyzing the limits, strengths and potentials to be developed and reporting the results in separate post-its, to facilitate the expression of the ideas of all participants. During the discussion the facilitator used a procedural logic diagram that was hung on a flip chart to guide the discussion: on it were illustrated boxes with the name of the category to be analyzed. The discussion started with the analysis of the local territorial system, that is the components and relationships that make up the territories crossed by the routes and their tourism organization system. In the infrastructure category, the cycle path was taken into consideration and in particular the quality of the road network, the paving, safety and signage. In the hospitality category, the number and quality of service provided by companies offering accommodation and catering was assessed. The services for cycle tourism analyzed were tourist information, accompaniment, rental and intermodal transport. In conclusion, the tourism product was taken into consideration to assess the degree of maturity and demand from the market and its communication and promotion, mentioning the most suitable tools for marketing the product (Ib., P. 17).
The meetings in the provinces each produced a report which highlights the shortcomings to be corrected in the cycle network (eg lack of maintenance, poor coordination between entities), in the organization of reception, services and training; moreover, the report constitutes a first knowledge base and contacts from which to start to structure the network of operators. In fact, an opportunity for the network could be to organize the birth of product clubs, groupings of companies on projects or joint communication programs, of which good results have been seen in some provinces (Ib., Pp. 39 - 53).
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The research was published at the end of 2015 but there are no particular updates on the Region's web page, dedicated to cycling tourism (in fact the last one took place on 23/12/2015) that follow up the results of the process. Overall, however, the documents and regional strategies appear to be consistent with the reports produced by the consultants of the Department of Territory and Agro-Forestry Systems of the University of Padua, first, and then by Etifor. This can be confirmed by how there is harmony in the description of the Veneto cycle tourism strategy, its advances, among the various studies and products made, the result of the deliberations of the regional council and the work of the researchers of Padua (Burighel et al., Pp. 9 - 13).
As already happened with the TESAF, it is to be thought that there is an almost immediate coherence between the consultants' products and the regional resolutions.
In light of the above [editor's note is meant as produced by the collaboration with consultants] and at the conclusion of the collaboration activity started with TESAF pursuant to resolution no. 2262/2009, it is therefore considered appropriate to adopt the Veneto cycle tourism enhancement plan referred to in Annex A) an integral part of this provision, which shows two types of cycling routes: itineraries and excursions, maps, characteristics and the tourist potential of the same and the criticalities of the individual routes (Del. GR 1807/2010, cit., p. 2).
From the FIAB newsletter (of 22/2/2016) there are complaints about the delay in the adaptation of railway trains for the transport of bicycles as missed opportunities: just when new trains are delivered by Trenitalia to the Veneto Region for the regional network, the wagons used for loading bikes have only 4 seats (FIAB, 22/2/16).
Among the participants in the provincial focus groups, representatives of associations and committees for the landscape and mobility are lacking, in fact the objectives are much more oriented to the creation of a tourist destination product, therefore to a response in terms of growth of the sector than to local cycling mobility. However, opportunities can be lost to build integrated policies and thus entrust more functions to cycle paths.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
It is a process halfway between empirical market research and a participatory consultative process, in which the overall strategy for the development of cycling tourism is assessed and the physical, organizational and communicative infrastructures that have been put in place, as well as the priorities and possible future strategies. However, from a communicative and political ritual point of view, he is not invested with any kind of commitment with respect to the outcomes of the path. The lack of information on the website of the Veneto Region, with respect to the specific theme, but also with respect to the production of administrative documents in general, is very lacking. It therefore appears as a closed policy network, not very communicative with the general public, very oriented to the economic result, to the creation of the image of the "tourist destination" product and little to the Veneto area, its landscape, real infrastructures (maintenance, inter- modalities with public services) and social (training, coordination of actors). It is part of a multi-year policy, which began many years ago (at least since 2005) and which continues today but which seems to us too focused and not very integrated with other policies to constitute a landscape redevelopment and improvement of the quality of the overall life. The curators of the survey appear to be trusted consultants (since at least 2009) of the political leaders as well as their relationships seem decisive in the development of cycling policy, but further checks on more recent data are needed to confirm this.
Burighel L., Da Re R., Gallo D. Veneto by bicycle. Opportunities for tour operators. ETIFOR Srl - Spin-off of the University of Padua, 2015 www.regione.veneto.it/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=636091c2-05f0-4ce ...
Veneto Region, INTERREG IVC project CHARTS Good Practice Guide „Cycling for Tourists”, June 2014 www.etifor.com/upload/pagine/editor/2014-07-29_CHARTSdef.pdf
Resolutions of the Public Administration
Resolution of the Regional Council (Veneto) n ° 1807 of 13/07/2010 www.regione.veneto.it/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=da7ce255-2170-4fd ...
Veneto Region - Tourism - Cycle tourism and tourist signs for the Venetian hiking network www.regione.veneto.it/web/turismo/cicloturismo-segnaletica
FIAB - Italian Federation of Friends of the Bicycle - “Train + bike ... just make the prawns!”, Newsletter of 22 Feb 2016 www.fiab-onlus.it/bici/blog/item/1390-trenobici-veneto-swing.html