MEPS from Italy, France, Greece, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Croatia or Portugal, among others, attended last 15th September a meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg where the European Historic Thermal Towns (EHTTA) had the opportunity to present its work as a Cultural Route certified by the Council of Europe. The international non-profit association introduced its latest project, the Thermal Atlas; a ambitious initiative on the study of European thermal culture developed by EHTTA Scientific Committee. EHTTA President, Giuseppe Bellandi, said: “The Atlas can become the the best available database about European thermal heritage and a prime source of information, easily available for the general public”.
The event was hosted by the MEP Francisco Millán Mon , co-President of the European Parliament Intergroup “European Tourism Development, Cultural Heritage, Ways of St. James and other European Cultural Routes”, and MEP Silvia Costa, President of the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education. The Council of Europe was also represented through the Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes, Mr. Stefano Dominioni.
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MEP Millán Mon opened the session highlighting how necessary is “both for the European Parliament and European Commission to be familiar with the European Cultural Routes programme and the associations behind them, reaching a vast majority of European population” and the important role they are playing for the development of an sustainable and healthy European tourist destination. He also praised the example of EHTTA “where culture and tourist interests meets other crucial topics such as health and well being, but also history and tradition”.
On the other hand, MEP Silvia Costa, said: “It’s not possible to speak about an European cultural identity and shared memory without mentioning places like Baden-Baden, Vichy, Budapest, Karlovy Vary and others cities of this network” all of them important examples of spa towns which were at the forefront of the tourism industry and can lead the development of European cultural tourism in the future. She reminded that the work of these associations within the framework of the European Cultural Routes shall be taking into consideration in the programme to be developed for the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018.
Finally, the Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes, Stefano Dominioni, underlined how the example of the EHTTA network “shows the world that the European Cultural Programme is a reality, with the grassroots of Europe proposing the themes of the routes – the Cultural Routes Programme is not a top-down idea, it comes from local communities” . Talking about EHTTA it is clear that this association was born under the impetus of a groups of spa towns willing to expand an idea into a concrete reality.
Speaking after the event, EHTTA President, Giuseppe Bellandi, said. “We are very pleased with the event today. Step by step we are making a real progress raising our profile at an European level and developing actions our members truly benefit from.
The Atlas project was presented by EHTTA Scientific Committee Vice-chairman, Mario Crecente, who explained that “ at the moment we have very little concrete data, that allows us to understand a complex phenomenon like the evolution of thermalism in Europe. The atlas will be able to collect and present this data in a standardized form”. Using a geographic information system (GIS) the Atlas will capture up to 15 categories of data, including tangible and intangible items, landscape, services, industry, events, springs, facilities, etc., and offer a friendly digital mechanism through which to consult this compendium on thermal heritage.
This new tool, as explained, will also help to raise awareness about abandoned heritage in whole Europe. The prototype study has been developed initially for the cities of Bath (United Kingdom) and Mondariz (Spain)