The Regions of Gastronomy celebrated their 10th partner meeting on Rhodes island in the South Aegean region of Greece on 26 and 27 January 2017. The meeting gathered representatives of ten European regions that have committed to the principles of working in a Platform, organised by IGCAT to support sustainable development. The meeting took place following Aarhus-Central Denmark Region, Riga-Gauja region and East Lombardy launching their programmes as 2017 European Regions of Gastronomy and the South Aegean and Sibiu being awarded the title for 2019 in Athens.
New official guidelines for applying for the European Region of Gastronomy Award were agreed at the meeting having been revised in light of lessons learned during 2016, when Catalonia and Minho experimented with the title. The guidelines make it an obligation for regions to build a regional stakeholder group across sectors and to employ full time coordinators to manage stakeholder meetings as well as guide the candidature. They also include more specific communication and marketing tools that are aimed at improving credibility and visibility to the projects.
Members were nominated to take part in evaluation visits to Catalonia and Minho, 2016 European Regions of Gastronomy, and partner regions were asked to agree on the jury composition for visits to 2020 bidding regions.
Reports from Platform members on monitoring and current situation highlighted major strengths and challenges faced by regions, with a special focus on opportunities for other regions to learn from their experience. The intention to work in the framework of 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism and further joint promotional strategies was also agreed. For example, a joint tourism promotion with the European Commission and the European Travel Commission was proposed, especially focused on the Europe-China year. Members of the Platform were invited to put forward a proposal for collaboration to give wider visibility to the Regions of Gastronomy project. Further collaboration with the European Travel Commission was envisaged to give Regions of Gastronomy visibility on the Tasting Europe portal.
Thanking regions for their commitment to the successful 2016 edition of the European Young Chef Award held on 14 November in Sant Pol de Mar (Catalonia), IGCAT’s President, Dr. Diane Dodd highlighted the importance of collaboration projects among Platform partners. Opportunities for cross-collaboration among hospitality schools were stressed when referring to 2017 edition of the Award.
A pilot Innovative Souvenir Award project was also presented and discussed as a model to be used by regions to promote innovation in food products, packaging, and kitchenware at a regional level. Opportunities for a cross-border Regions of Gastronomy merchandise related to innovative souvenirs were explored as well.
About the European Region of Gastronomy
The Regions of Gastronomy Platform and the European Region of Gastronomy Award aim to contribute to better quality of life in European regions, by highlighting distinctive food cultures, educating for better health and sustainability and stimulating gastronomic innovation. Candidate regions are invited to join a knowledge-exchange platform of European regions in order to further cross-border collaborations and develop shared initiatives.
IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) organises the award with the support of European institutions and is an international network of experts that aim to guide, facilitate and support leaders in cities, regions and cultural projects to understand the potential of their distinct food, culture, arts and sustainable tourism assets.