Conference and Marketplace of ideas
"Sustainable tourism for rural development"

15-17 february 2017. Bergamo, Italy

Rural Tourism is already an important part of the European tourism sector. But many assets and resources for recreation in rural areas are yet not used, or remain undetected. This conference is a step to broaden the view and unleash the full rural potential for leisure through a holistic approach that includes hospitality, food, gastronomy, culture, active tourism, and any other relevant aspects.


It is a first-ever event that brings together stakeholders from two of the most relevant sectors for the European economy to set common ground for practical cooperation and synergies:

  • Tourism represents around  10% of European GDP, and is one of the most resilient sectors of EU economy with excellent perspectives of growth.
  • 92% of EU territory is rural or peri-urban, providing a wide scope of resources and public goods for 743 million habitants in Europe.


In plenary and workgroups, open and dynamic discussion will take place around four topics:

  • VITALITY for Smart and competitive rural areas.
  • VALUE CHAINS and how to manage them in benefit of rural areas


On Thursday 16th, each of the above is discussed in a moderated panel of experts and best practice cases from Europe and Italy. Further 40-50 examples will be presented in a Marketplace of Ideas in the foyer, where participants shall vote for the three most inspiring cases. On Friday 17th, the four topics are discussed in smaller work groups , while a fifth group will deal with possible joint projects. The results are presented at the closure session where also the winners of the contest from the Marketplace of Ideas shall be announced.


The formal programme is complemented by social events and visit to the Cittá Alta of Bergamo. Participants at the Marketplace of Ideas have the opportunity to present their experience to the general public over the weekend at the AgroTravel & SlowTravel Exhibition .


The organisation is shared between EuroGites-European Federation of Rural Tourism and   MER-Mouvement Européen de Ruralité, in the context of the UNWTO “2017 Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” and the implementation of the Cork 2.0 Declaration . It counts with support of the UNWTO-World Tourism Organisation, ENRD-European Network of Rural Development, COPA-COGECA, EDEN Network, Regione Lombardia, and Ente Fiera Promoberg, amongst others.

Languages:  simultaneous translation between Italian and English.
French can be spoken only.



Raise awareness about the actual and future potential for sustainable tourism and recreation in rural areas and initiate practical steps to put them into practice by:

  • Highlighting the wide range of rural resources that can be put into value through recreation and tourism
  • Presenting innovative, inspirational, “out-of-the-box”, or even disruptive ideas
  • Detecting new potentials for profitable business around them
  • Discussing different views and perspectives
  • Exchanging views and practical experience across Europe and worldwide
  • Establishing new professional and business contacts in the field
  • Setting up partnerships and consortia for future joint projects


  • Decision makers at local, regional, and national levels from the private and public sector
  • Rural entrepreneurs with interest in opening new fields and markets for their activity
  • Research and training institutions
  • Organisations and companies looking for partners to launch new projects or businesses
  • …. and in general, anybody involved and committed with lively and vital rural areas in Europe and elsewhere in the world



 Wednesday, 15-feb     Afternoon:  set-up of panels for the Marketplace of Ideas at venue

                                              Evening:         reception of participants of the Conference


Thursday, 16-feb         Full day:        plenary sessions

                                                                    See details below

Friday, 17-feb               Morning:       plenary sessions

                                                                     parallel workgroups (5)

                                                                 See details below

           Noon:             Results of workgroups, contest, conclusions, closur

                                             Afternoon:    individual meetings on arrangement


REGISTRATION FEES for international participants

With registration until 25th-January-2017:

* Members of EuroGites, MER, and practice cases
with poster display at the Marketplace of Ideas
                              150 EUR

* Members of organisations related with tourism
and rural development                                                                          195 EUR

* Other participants in general                                                            250 EUR

* Education and Research Institutions                                           on request

Registration after the 25th-January-2017 will bear a surcharge of   50 EUR

This fee includes the local transfers, congress participation, documentation, full social program and meals from Wednesday evening to Friday afternoon, guided tour to Bergamo Città Alta.

Accommodation is on account of participants, alternative options will be suggested at preferential rates at two levels (2- and 4-star-hotels) in due course. Rates start at 40 EUR/sgl room incl breakfast



Registered participants have free access to the fair “AgriTravel & SlowTravel Expo” that begins right after the end of our conference. This includes various opportunities for professional exchange (seminars, workshops, etc.) and business contacts B2B and B2C through a special match-making service of the fair.


Special conditions for participants at the conference apply for individual exhibition space at this fair, as follows:

  • Space with individual exhibition panel for posters,          150 EUR

shared desk, chair

  • Proper individual stand 3 x 3 mts with desks,                  350 EUR
  •  chairs, electricity, and at least 5 panels for decoration


For more details, you can download the offer here


ENRD -European Network for Rural Development-
EuroGites –European Federation of Rural Tourism-
MER –European Countryside Movement-

Networking, animation

Valorisation of local assets and social dynamics: how can recreation and tourism support the generation of new economies and opportunities that benefit rural areas as a whole. We look not only at rural economy, but the full set of sustainability including social, cultural, and environmental aspects such as
• food production
• human capital, infrastructure, image
• cultural and natural assets (Natura 2000 network etc.)
• gender opportunities
• innovation

Include guided tour to the posters or cases at the Marketplace of Ideas related with topic 1

Value chains combining rural resources, tourism, and circular economy: how to optimize the effects of external visitors to rural areas. This includes local cooperation, branding, post-visit sales, or promotion - but also the management of potentially negative impacts such as resource consumption or waste. Core terms are:
• Rural-urban linkages
• Sales channels
• Cooperation of structures: CLLD/Leader, DMO, professional organisations, etc.
• Circular economy

Guided tour to the posters or cases at the Marketplace of Ideas related with topic 2+3, networking, animation...

The concept of image, expectations and experience: what does a visitor expect from a visit to the countryside? - how can we know these expectations, define segments, and then address and communicate with the actual and potential customer?
• demand patterns, trends, segments
• cultural identity and heritage
• gastronomy and food – from the field to the table
• active tourism (equestrian, outdoor sports, … )

Guided tour to the posters or cases related with topic 3. If you already made up your mind about your favourite idea at the Marketplace, this is the moment to vote.


Digitalization is changing the concepts and channels for communication between providers and clients. It also offers new opportunities for long-term sales connections for local produce. How to make best use of this for organisation, management, development, and marketing of rural areas based on tourism and recreation?
• Consumer based product design and feedback
• Sharing Economy
• Communication: Social Media, Blogs, Web 3.0
• Direct sales and supply of farm produce to urban consumers
• Knowledge transfer - E-Learning in rural areas

The last opportunity to vote for the three most challenging and inspiring cases amongst the Marketplace of Ideas (poster displays) in the foyer

Work groups shall deal in more detail with core strategic aspects of sustainable tourism and rural development. Results should build on the discussions of the previous day, and focus on practical action to be implemented in the future. Each of them will be moderated by representatives from the partner organisations with most experience in the topic.
Group 1 Vitality - Moderation: tbd
Group 2: Value - Moderation: COPA-COCEGA
Group 3: The Rural Experience - Moderation: EuroGites
Group 4: Digitalization - Moderation: tbd
Group 5: Find a partner for projects

Italian authorities (national and regional)
Partner organisations
Patronage entities


 The full conference documentation will be made available to participants after the event online (with password) and on USB pendrive (tbc).

No printed version is planned, but the full set of electronic documentation will be ISBN registered as electronic publication (tbc).


Meet our most valued speakers


Designer @ Winstagram

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CTO @ Finterest

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VP Product @ Flopbox

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Evangelist @ Doogle

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Graphic Designer

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Project Manager

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  • The “Marketplace of Ideas” is an opportunity for innovative, out-of-the-box, or challenging initiatives on sustainable tourism in rural areas from Italy, Europe, and the rest of the world to showcase their experience. We look for consolidated examples that work in reality, but do not exclude ongoing projects if they open new perspectives. Introduce your case online HERE or use the WORD template – we will contact you for technical details.


  • Cases exposed at this Marketplace of Ideas enjoy a reduced Conference Fee. They shall present their experience in the foyer of the conference with a 1×2 mts poster displays free of cost. These displays will also be placed at the following B2C Fair “AgroTravel & SlowTravel Expo” over the week-end, generating direct impact and possible clients in the future.


  • A contest to be voted by the conference participants will select three cases that they consider most inspiring. The winners will be presented during the Conclusions of the conference, and receive refund of their participation cost (maximum 500 EUR).


  • Selection by the Programme Committee of two comprehensive cases in each area (one from Italy, one from Europe) for plenary sessions on Thursday 16 . These selected cases will be invited “all cost paid”, but can NOT participate in the contest.


  • Electronic-only presentation (i.e. without participation at the Marketplace of Ideas) is possible, following a standard template (PowerPoint or PDF) that assures a common structure, and thus allows for comparing all cases along the same criteria. These cases will be included in the conference documentation, but cannot participate in the contest.
  • 25th-January-2017   for cases to be selected for presentation in plenary
  • 8th-February-2017 for the rest (poster displays, or only electronic)



for the four sessions in plenary will be invited on private notice. However, if you have an innovative, out-of-the-box, or disruptive view on recreation in rural areas and would like to be part of a panel, we invite to propose yourself at



Additional to the practical cases, we welcome more comprehensive studies, essays, or articles. They will not be presented in the plenary sessions, but may be used in the WorkGroups on Friday morning, and will be also included in the conference documentation.

Such papers can be sent directly to   They should comply with the usual requirements for scientific publications. In case of doubts, please contact the Programme Committee for more detailed technical specifications.


Travel Information

Bergamo   is a city of about 120.000 habitants, situated in centre of the region of Lombardia in the north of Italy. It is set at the foothills of the Alps that begin immediately north of the town. Due to its rich historic and cultural heritage, especially in the UpperTown (“Cittá Alta”) that is still surrounded by Venetian walls, it is the second-most visited city in Lombardia after Milan, which is only 40 kms away.

A guided tour to Bergamo “Città Alta” is included in the registration fee.


For AIR TRAVEL we recommend the following options:

  • Bergamo “Il Caravaggio” (BGY) airport (4 kms)       is the third-busiest airport in Italy and served by many low-cost airlines from all across Europe: RyanAir, Wizz Air, and BlueAir are the most important.
  • Milan Malpensa       (MXP) is served by all international regular airlines.   Direct coach connection several times a day to Bergamo city centre (see here).
  • Milan Linate (LIN) is closer to Milan city centre, but no direct public transport to Bergamo is available (only via Milano Centrale railway station).


Transfer from and to Bergamo airport will be arranged for all registered participants free of charge.   One free transfer from Milano Malpensa will also be organised in the later afternoon of Wednesday 15th-February.   The exact schedules will be defined depending on arrival times of participants.


For arrival by CAR, you find the exact location of the venue “Fiera Promoberg” at the bottom of the website


Can be organised in three alternatives:

  • Own arrangement of participants.  We suggest to use  or  AirBnb
  • Apartment or 1/2 – Star – guesthouses and hotels   (starting at 40 EUR/person/night)
  • Hotels at 3-4 star level   (starting at 60 EUR/person/night)

NOTA:  preferential rates including accommodation and breakfast for conference participants at selected hotels will be offered in due course

FREE bus shuttle from the city centre (Piazza Giacomo Matteotti  and Railway Station) to the venue at Fiera Bergamo will be available for registered participants at set times.


  • Ente Fiera Promoberg
  • 15-17 february 2017

Contact Form

Organized by
In connection with
Regione Lombardia
Ente Fiera Promoberg