The European confederation of co-operatives and worker-owned enterprises active in industry and services (Cecop) is designing an innovative itinerary in the field of cultural and industrial tourism that will promote and preserve the co-operative heritage.
Cooproute will include co-operatives that are deeply rooted in the local territory and whose economic activities contribute to preserving the traditional local skills and products.
Elisa Terrasi, Development and Studies Officer at CECOP, explained how the project came about: “The idea of this project came from the need to value the specific contribution of cooperatives to sustainable tourism: co-operatives active in the tourism sector respond to a number of challenges such as the respect and reinforcement of the local community in touristic areas as well as the stronger involvement of citizens, environmental sustainability and accessibility for everyone (regardless of age, health and economic profile.”
Rochdale Pioneers’ Museum, which represents the birthplace of the modern Co-operative Movement, will be one of the tourist attractions included in the route.
Jennifer Mabbott, Museum Manager at Rochdale Pioneers Museum welcomes the initiative to design a European Route of Co-operative Culture. She said: "Cooproute is an exciting project to connect centres of co-operative heritage and culture across Europe. The project specifically aims to provide co-operative experiences for young people to inspire a new generation of co-operators. The Co-operative Heritage Trust, which manages the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and National Co-operative Archive, is delighted to be involved in this project."
As part of the project, Cecop will launch a dedicated website and an online guide with virtual tours of co-operative sites as potential tourist attractions. The initiative is co-financed by the European Commission and supported by 17 European states (Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland, Estonia, Denmark, Malta, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Germany). Representatives from the 17 states met last year to discuss the best methodology to identify the co-operative sites that will be part of the route.
At the meeting they agreed on the selection criteria to identify these co-operative sites. They also tried to determine the best communication strategy to give the project visibility. Representatives from each partner state will distribute a questionnaire to their members to see what destinations should be included on the route.
Due to their strong emphasis on environment and sustainability, co-operatives play an important role in the development of sustainable and responsible tourism in Europe. Worker, social and artisans’ cooperatives help create and maintain jobs within the local communities where they operate.
Photo: Rochdale Pioneers Museum