On March 21st, 2019, EUROCITIES, the partner of the GO SUMP project, organised the breakfast debate: “Improving tourist mobility in Mediterranean Cities”. Brussels-based NGOs and representatives of the EU institutions took part in the debate, seizing this occasion to share their current projects and strategies and to seek future collaborations in the field of urban mobility in tourist destination areas.

(Rome, 10 May  2019) The adoption of alternative mobility solutions, as those tested and investigated by the partners of MOBILITAS - an Interreg MED project of the thematic community on Urban Transports, highlighted that a stronger support from the policy makers is needed. As summarised by the GO SUMP project, the adoption of alternative mobility solutions does not only necessitate economic support but - the projects and the initiative that drive those solutions- require a multi-level and multi-stakeholders approach. The adoption of an integrated framework, combining different measures ranging from governance, ICTs, to  sensibilisation and communication would be more than beneficial.

Mr Carlos Sanchez, from Malaga City Council lead partner of the GO SUMP project, kicked off the debate on “Improving tourist mobility in Mediterranean Cities”. Some of the MED Urban Transports Community’s modular projects, that are SUMPORT, LOCATIONS and MOBILITAS took part in this debate. Representatives of the European Cyclist Federation(ECF), partner of the MEDCYLCETOUR project from the MED Sustainable Tourism Community, also joined the talks. The European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transports (DG MOVE), represented by Mr Piotr Rapacz, also participating, confirmed the interest of the EU to fund measures promoting more sustainable mobility in urban contexts.

After the European year promoting intermodal transports (2018), the strategy embraced by the European Union stresses the need to keep applying ICT to transport in order to promote wider access to alternative and more sustainable transportation means. Rapacz emphasized that the relevance of the theme in the wider European strategy for sustainable development is highlighted by the support of the Commission to and via initiatives as CIVITAS or the European Mobility Week, or the platform on SUMPs. This is also the case for  the promotion and participation in thematic conferences, the redaction of guidelines and agenda setting. This statement is confirmed by the economic support that the EU allocated to sustainable mobility in the period 2014-2020 (18.5€ bln) ,  which is currently under negotiation for a bigger share post-2020.

The contribution of Mr Adam Bodor, from the ECF, together with the MOBILITAS project, featured a more targeted approach, specifying how small solutions are required to tackle specific problems, to be integrated, in turn,  in wider strategies. According to Mr Bodor, who challenged the audience by asking if “cycle tourism could not be a solution to be taken in a wider account and reproduced in scale?”, the importance and the positive impact of promoting cycling tourism is more than relevant. Eurovelo8, that in the Euro-Mediterranean region encompasses11 countries and 5900 km with many cultural and natural sites, constitutes an alternative and high quality path to foster a shift towards a more sustainable tourism in Mediterranean cities.

A more structured policy setting is needed, and this has emerged from the different projects’ representatives. Multiple fragmented initiatives weaken the outputs, therefore influencing political support and not helping the projects evolving, stagnating at pilot level. Amidst the shortcomings that, despite the innovative actions proposed, the projects struggle as well in finding the appropriate level of engagement of the relevant stakeholders from citizens and tourists, to the transports providers.

The morning debate,  moderated by Mr Peter Staelens from EUROCITIES, brought to the table the challenges faced specifically by Mediterranean tourist destinations. SUMPORT and LOCATIONS, respectively focusing on promoting intermodal mobility solutions for port cities and alternative solutions for cruise destinations, displayed the outcomes of their testing and research activities over the different cities involved. There is a need of a stronger support from policy makers, as they could have a stronger leverage in shaping the upcoming policies and strategic actions.

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