Shaping the vision, the identity and the cultural image of European places
European regions and cities have been, especially during the last twenty years, characterized by a plurality of efforts to define their vision, to construct their identity and to shape their images, in order to become more attractive and, consequently, competitive, and also to increase their market share in a globalized economy. Following this option, places have been elaborating and implementing particular competitive policies and strategic plans in order to attract the potential target markets (new investments, tourists, new residents etc). Shaping the vision concerns the identification of the sustainable development objectives that each place sets up in a long-term horizon. Furthermore, the vision is the first step of strategic planning implementation that a place has to follow in order to construct its identity and to produce its image as a ‘final provided good’. This paper investigates the relationship between vision, local identity and image, focusing on culture and tourism. The international bibliography shows several cases, mainly of European places, that support their competitiveness through cultural and tourism development. In addition, the majority of the implemented place marketing policies relate with culture and tourism. The primary aim of the paper is to present the ways with which the cultural image of a place as a ‘final provided good’, could be produced, supported and promoted effectively to the external environment. The secondary aim is to show under what conditions the promotion of this image could induce anticipated profits for a place in a long-term base. The data for this paper are provided by the INTERREG IIIc CultMark project (Cultural Heritage, Local Identity and Place Marketing for Sustainable Development, an project) that has been in operation in five European places during the last year: Nea Ionia/Magnesia/Greece, Paphos/Cyprus, Chester/UK, Rostock-Wismar/Germany and Kainuu/Finland – it has to be noted that the last four places relate directly with water. The main aim of the project is to create a final successful image for each place and for the study area as a whole. The paper presents a structural analysis of the project methodology and uses the available data in order to produce the ‘final provided good’ of each place.
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