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Food, crafts and tourism. Training for small and micro enterprises in coastal and rural areas.

Raising the awareness of the connections between typical products, internationalisation and tourism with a specific focus on the role and potential of small and micro enterprises in coastal and rural areas: this is the aim of a training project scheme funded by Regione Liguria set up by CNA Liguria, the regional branch of the National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Sized businesses.

The scenario

Tourism contributes significantly to the growth of the GDP of several countries. According to the World Tourism Organisation, in 2015 international tourist arrivals reached a  record 1.2 billion. However, to win the challenges of this hyper fast and competitive market, abundance of resources (natural, cultural...) and reputation are not enough anymore. Without effective targeting, communication and training the battle is lost. In this light, Liguria, a coastal region located in North Western Italy, stands as a paradigm of the country's strengths and weaknesses. Though it boasts a 100-year experience in hosting national and international guests, the Italian Riviera is in fact going through the declining phase of its product lifecycle, the reason lying in the decline of the “sea, sand, sun” formula. Urged to re-design their offer, stakeholders of both coastal and rural areas are trying to shape a new tourism identity and positioning on the market and focus on active vacations, enogastronomy, handicraft and culture.  

The challenges

As demand (both domestic and international) is calling for special interest offers/experiences, the agriculture/food/crafts sectors are thus starting to explore the opportunities linked to tourism development - a gateway towards internationalisation for micro- and small sized enterprises, which represent the region's economic backbone (Liguria stands again as a paradigm...). 

Yet, do the entrepreneurs’ skills and know-hows suit the requirements of this new challenge? How could competence gaps be filled? How could training be delivered? What kind of related support services do MSMEs need from business organisations? How could the awareness of the links between typical products, internationalisation and tourism be further raised?

The pilot initiative

In order to answer these questions, in 2013 CNA Liguria, the regional branch of the National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Sized businesses, started extensive business needs analysis, carried out through both desk and field investigation. The survey has highlighted a set of training priorities regarding (micro)entrepreneurs’ effectiveness in terms of storytelling (products and traditions), market orientation (domestic and international targets), networking, public speaking (TV shows, fairs…), cross-cultural mindset, ability to exploit the opportunities linked to tourism development.

These are the issues addressed by the “Liguria in-formazione” initiative, funded by Regione Liguria and designed for CNA Liguria by tourism marketing& training experts Luisa Puppo and Umberto Curti (Ligucibario®) as the driver of a 360° innovation process. The project generated a multitude of outputs and training materials:

  • 24 videos promoting the main agrofood excellences of Liguria (4 with English subtitles)
  • The “Scegli Artigiano Youtube channel”
  • “Lungo le vie artigiane” (Along the crafts routes), 12 itineraries of craft/food tours designed with a view to promoting Liguria and Made in Italy
  • “A Tavola con CNA” (Dining with CNA), an operational format to organize the entrepreneurs’ participation in TV cooking shows and events
  • “L’artigiano in tv” (Artisan entrepreneurs and TV), a (self)training dossier to optimize the entrepreneurs’ public speaking performances on occasion of tv and radio shows, press interviews, fairs, public events etc.
  • A set of 12 operation handbooks and thematic best practices surveys for entrepreneurial and staff (self)training.

The outputs are free and available on line for registered members of CNA Liguria. SMEs and micro enterprises can select contents according either to their specific learning pace and needs, or choosing from then menu of the User Guide. 


The developments

Following the lead of the “Liguria in Formazione” scheme a partnership agreement for the promotion of traineeships and the implementation of research and training projects was signed by CNA Liguria and the University of Genoa. Starting from the academic year 2016/2017, the Department of Economics – Tourism Sciences programme is to deliver two pilot courses (3University Credits) related to the “Crafts, development and tourism” theme.

Similar partnership agreements are being developed at both national and European level in order to foster exchange of best practices and networking opportunities.


Further information - Contact details

Dr Luisa Puppo

Project coordinator

Skype: luisa.puppo

Twitter: @luisapuppo



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Luisa Puppo
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