Project-based learning for heritage tourism

Pro-Youth participants at event in Stuttgart. Image: Pro-Youth


Is project-based-learning the missing link for thriving heritage tourism professionals? Pro-Youth offers some insight.

The Erasmus+ project, Pro-Youth – Strategic cooperation for more efficient international work-based learning schemes in the field of heritage tourism, is in its final stage. Partner organisations from Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy and Romania, led by the German-based European Foundation for Education, are showcasing the project results through national conferences in March.

Since 2018, the Pro-Youth team has been working to offer a solution for both the unemployment of the young, and the lack of qualified personnel in the field of cultural tourism. Research, that was conducted at the beginning of the project, showed that micro companies in this field hesitate to employ young people for their lack of experience and necessary skills. Potential employers don’t have the resources they would require to fill in the gaps in the applicants’ formal education.

Project-based learning under mentorship in various institutions, following a structured methodology and based on the Pro-Youth manual and training, was tested with a positive outcome. All of the participants have gained new skills depending on the need of their own projects, and learned what it takes to manage a project from scratch.

By empowering the young and helping them gain the necessary skills to work in heritage tourism, Pro-Youth methodology can be a cogwheel for the heritage tourism mechanism to reach its full potential. That’s why the project team did not only focus on project management, but also included lessons of respectful and careful heritage management and presentation as an important guideline for potential users.
Several Croatian team members and participants of the project also happen to be members of Interpret Europe. In fact, some of us, including the Pro-Youth team leader for Croatia, Dunja Vuković, met on an IE Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) training course organised by Elizabeta Milanović Glavica, IE’s former Tourism Coordinator and the Manager of Central Podravina Tourism Board and Interpret Europe’s Tourism Coordinator. It doesn’t come as a surprise that such a team bonded over common values and insisted on making meaningful heritage presentation a part of the Pro-Youth training.

We conducted the first Pro-Youth training at the end of 2020 and, despite the obstacles due to a strict lockdown and even a strong earthquake in Croatia that has destroyed the offices of some of our participants, the enthusiasm endured. The training resulted in creative projects inspired by local heritage that have been carried out from an idea to a complete project.

Although the mentorship and the training have shown amazing results, the Pro-Youth workbook is envisioned as a self-guiding tool that can help people without any experience in cultural tourism understand the field and its possibilities, and even manage a project singlehandedly. It is easy to read and follow, with intuitive worksheets to help the creative process.

Through Pro-Youth, we have found an ‘ACE up the sleeve’ of heritage tourism – an acronym of three important and easy-to-understand elements of a quality heritage-tourism product: Authenticity – Creativity – Engagement. The Croatian Pro-Youth team is currently finishing the national policy recommendations and will include the three elements as crucial in any educational activities or projects related to heritage.

For more information about Pro-Youth in Croatia and the learning materials, contact: Zaklada Znanje na djelu / Foundation Knowledge at Work, www.znanjenadjelu.hr, dunja.vukovic@znanjenadjelu.hr.

Iva Silla is one of the educators for the Pro-Youth project. She is also the author of Secret Zagreb tours (www.secret-zagreb.com) and the Croatia Underrated blog (www.croatiaunderrated.com), and is an experienced Interpret Europe Certified Interpretive Trainer. Contact her at: iva@secret-zagreb.com.

To cite this article: Silla, Iva (2021) ‘Project-based learning for heritage tourism’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2021, 22-23.

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Newsletter-Spring-2021.pdf

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