Silkroadia - Activities of AUTh. Memo of Assoc. Prof. Stella Kostopoulou, Director, Master in Tourism and Local Development/President, European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Center of AUTh

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki on the Silk Road
Memo for WEBZINE SUN, 26 November 2018

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) actively participates in the Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative, an ambitious tourism project cofounded in 2016 by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the European Union (EU), Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG Grow). The UNWTO/EU Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative aims to strengthen and diversify the tourism offer of Western Silk Road destinations, as well as enhance regional cooperation and cross-border partnerships, by revitalizing the Silk Road heritage located throughout the European section of the historic Silk Road routes, from the Caspian Sea, around the Black Sea and along parts of the Mediterranean basin.

The World Tourism Organization and the European Union, in October 2016 addressed an invitation to universities among 29 countries, to participate in the research on the Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative;. In Greece, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the School of Economics was selected to participate. The National Study entitled The Western Silk Road in Greece, prepared by the School of Economics, is available at
http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/aristotleuniversity-natio...">http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/aristotleuniversity-natio...

On Monday 24 April 2017, a workshop on the Silk Road and Tourism Development Perspectives was co-organized by Aristotle University, the Region of Central Macedonia and Thessaloniki Tourism Organization, at the University premises (Aristotle University Research Dissemination Center). The keynote speech New Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism Development along the Silk Road was addressed by Mrs Alla Peressolova, Head of Silk Road Programme, UNWTO. Mr Nikolaos Gkolfinopoulos, Tourism Intelligence Officer, Silk Road Programme, UNWTO, gave a presentation on The Western Silk Road Tourism Development and its potential and Dr. Stella Kostopoulou, Associate Professor of Regional and Tourism Development, School of Economics, AUTh gave a presentation on the Western Silk Road and tourism development in the Region of Central Macedonia. A round-table discussion was then organized, where AUTh Professors from the Schools of Forestry and Natural Environment, Architecture, Archaeology, Theology, Spatial Planning and Development,  gave an interdisciplinary approach into tourism development on the Silk Road, namely:

Thekla K. Tsitsoni, Professor, School of Forestry and Natural Environment, AUTh, President of Parnassos National Park Management Body:Green Corridors of the Silk Road and Sustainable Tourism Development in Greece
Matoula Scaltsa, Professor of History of Art and Museology, AUTh, Director of the Interuniversity Masters Program Museology-Cultural Mangement’, Panos Tzonos, Emeritus Professor of Architecture, AUTh:Connecting Cultures/ Connected Roads:xhibition GREECE 希腊CHINA 中国CHINA 中国 GREECE 希腊. Cultural Roads: Greece, Europe, China. Activity From Local To Global: Interpreting Global Culture through Thessaloniki Monuments (video), as part of One Belt, One Road Silk Road Initiatives
Kostas Kotsakis, Professor, School of Archeology, AUTh, Eleftheria Theodoroudi, MSc in Archaeology in Museology, PhD Candidate, School of Archaeology, AUTh: Archaeological signposts in the Silk Road: The case of the invisible monuments of Thessaloniki
Christos Tsironis, Assistant Professor of Social Theory of Contemporary Culture and Christianity, School of Theology, AUTh: Religious heritage and polymorphic touristic development: The Silk Roads case
Eleni Papadopoulou, Associate Professor, School of Spatial Planning and Development, AUTh, Academic Coordinator of the Global Study Program, AUTh Chiba University: Interdisciplinarity - Transnationality in Tourism Development Education: The case of Global Study Program  Greece-Japan 2014-18
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki also participated in the Scientific Workshop Encounters on the Silk Road, an event organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture during the 14th Thessaloniki International Book Fair, 11-14 May 2017 TIF HELEXPO, Thessaloniki, Greece. The event was part of the celebrations for the Cultural Year Greece-China 2017, aiming at promoting the similarities of the past and the need for strengthening the cultural relations between the two countries through cooperation and exchange.
Aristotle University has also actively participated in the 1st and 2nd International Western Silk Road Workshops, held in Alexandroupolis,Greece, 26-27 April 2017 and Sofia, Bulgaria, 27-28 June 2017. The workshops were the first practical steps of the initiative developed by UNWTO in cooperation with the European Commission as part of the Enhancing the Understanding of European Tourism Project.
http://silkroad.unwto.org/event/1st-international-western-silk-road-work...">http://silkroad.unwto.org/event/1st-international-western-silk-road-work...
http://silkroad.unwto.org/event/2nd-international-western-silk-road-work...">http://silkroad.unwto.org/event/2nd-international-western-silk-road-work...
1st International Western Silk Road Workshop,
26-27 April 2017, Alexandroupolis, Greece

2nd International Western Silk Road Workshop,
27-28 June 2017, Sofia, Bulgaria

Aristotle University also joined the Western Silk Road Work Group and the Western Silk Road Tourism Academic Network, established by the UNWTO Silk Road Programme for guaranteeing a coordinated approach.
The involvement of Aristotle University in the World Tourism Organization Silk Road activities was actually the stimulus for the creation of the “European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre, that was established in August 2017, by a unanimous decision of the Senate of the University. The establishment of the European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre(hereafter called Centre”), has been supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Ministry of Tourism of Greece.
http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/europeaninterdisciplinary...">http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/europeaninterdisciplinary...
The overall aim of the “European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre is to promote international synergies and regional cooperation perspectives, encourage interdisciplinary research on how to enhance prospects for tourism development initiatives and cross-border collaboration, as well as cultural exchanges among countries on the Silk Road, based upon scientific documentation and analysis of the Silk Road cultural heritage.
The Centre aims at:
- Providing systematic study and databases interpretation, sharing and distributing information about identifying, documenting, mapping and promoting the tangible and intangible cultural heritage and tourism potential of the Silk Road
- The publishing of Silk Road scientific studies and academic research findings
- The creation of a network of Universities along the Silk Road countries, to develop curricula on sustainable tourism initiatives based on the Silk Road cultural footprint and support the development of further educational and cultural links among EU Universities and Universities on the Asian Silk Road countries.

The establishment of the European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre is in line with AUTh holistic internationalization strategy. Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the largest University in Greece, covers a wide array of academic disciplines from medicine to fine arts, and has a long tradition of implementing large scale research projects. As such, AUTh is extremely well qualified to undertake the scientific responsibility to apply an interdisciplinary and in-depth approach into tourism research on the Silk Road. Furthermore, Thessaloniki and the broader Central Macedonia region, historically at the crossroads of civilizations and trade exchanges, have a strategic location for the revival of the Silk Road and the development of regional economic cooperation.
The interdisciplinary character of the European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre is also reflected on the synthesis of the_Hlk530997526">Board of Directors
Stella Kostopoulou, Ass.Professor, School of Economics, President
Thekla Tsitsoni, Professor, School of Forestry and Natural Environment, Vice-President
Christos Tsironis, Assistant Professor, School of Theology, Gen. Secretary
Eleni Papadopoulou, Professor, School of Spatial Planning and Development, Treasurer
Malamati Scaltsa, Professor Emeritus, School of Architecture, Member
Kostas Kotsakis, Professor Emerirus, School of History and Archaeology, Member
Giorgos Doganis, Professor, School of Physical Education and Sports Science, Member
European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre,
Professor Pericles Mitkas, Rector, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Board of Directors.

The first goal of the Centre was to host the 8thInternational Meeting on Silk Road Tourism in Thessaloniki, and therefore the Centre submitted the initial proposal to UNWTO and actively participated to the preparation of the Proposal submitted by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Region of Central Macedonia and Thessaloniki Convention Bureau. The proposal has been successful for the selection of Thessaloniki to host the 8th International meeting on Silk Road Tourism 10-12 October 2018, the biggest biennial event on Silk Road Tourism.
http://silkroad.unwto.org/event/8th-unwto-international-meeting-silk-roa...">http://silkroad.unwto.org/event/8th-unwto-international-meeting-silk-roa...
16 countries from the Silk Road region, in addition to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Bank and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) convened for a Silk Road Ministerial Roundtable, moderated by CNN Greece, focused on the overarching role and relevance of the Silk Road within a globalized tourism framework.
Also attended by many representatives from the private tourism sector and academia, the two-day event additionally featured specialized panel sessions on transnational cooperation, tourism intelligence and destination management, a networking breakfast and a joint UNWTO / PATA session focused on digitalization and tourism storytelling.
UNWTO 8th International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism 10-12 October 2018, Thessaloniki
Ministerial Meeting

During the first day of the event, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between UNWTO and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki aimed at fomenting cooperation and tourism research, especially about Silk Road heritage available throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO
Professor, Pericles Mitkas, Rector, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
The Centre has also actively participated in the 2ndInternational Congress on World Civilizations and Historic Routes, 15-16 November 2018, Sofia, Bulgaria, where  the President of the  Centre, Dr. Stella Kostopoulou, Associate Professor of Regional and Tourism Development, School of Economics, AUTh, was invited by UNWTO.
http://europe.unwto.org/event/2nd-international-congress-world-civilizat...">http://europe.unwto.org/event/2nd-international-congress-world-civilizat...
International Congress on World Civilizations and Historic Routes,
15-16 November 2018, Sofia, Bulgaria

In mid-November 2018, a joint EU Project of the Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme 2014-2020, entitled Silk Road Local Culture SILC has been launched by the European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre. Aristotle University is now leading a consortium consisting of partners from Armenia (Russian-Armenian University), Georgia (International Centre for Social Research and Policy Analysis-ICSRPA), Bulgaria (University of Varna), and Romania (National Association for Rural, Ecological and Cultural Tourism). The SILC project aims at:
identifying, documenting, mapping and promoting the cultural footprint and tourism potential of Silk Road along the project partner countries
establishing a Silk Road Virtual Observatory aiming at monitoring the untapped cultural heritage, introducing a new means of information for travelers and local authorities.
establishing an Interregional Entrepreneurial Network for supporting Silk Road culture and tourism development and
developing and promoting a quality assurance model, the Silk Road Entrepreneurship Label, to certify quality affiliates of the project
As for educational activities, an International Summer School is scheduled at Aristotle University camping site, on Sustainable Tourism Development and Silk Road Cultural Heritage, co-organized by the European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre in collaboration with the Master Program Tourism and Local Development, consisting of six Aristotle University Schools (Economics, Law, Forestry and Natural Environment, Agriculture, Theology, Spatial Planning and Development), and 60 University Professors.
The next goal of the Centre is the creation of a EuroMediterAsian Silk Road Tourism Intelligence Digital Platform for the Cooperation between Academia and the Tourism Industry on the Silk Road, so as to capitalize the knowledge and digital innovation experience gained by the participation of Aristotle University to the European PhD Hub, an Earsmus+ Knoweldge Alliance project, introducing a European Digital Platform for the cooperation between the University (PhD holders/ candidates) and the Industry.
http://uni-foundation.eu/european-university-foundation/projects/europea...">http://uni-foundation.eu/european-university-foundation/projects/europea...

Best regards

Stella Kostopoulou
Associate Professor
Director, Master in Tourism and Local Development
President, European Interdisciplinary Silk Road Tourism Centre
Institutional Coordinator for the Agreement AUTh-CASS (Beijing)
Departmental ECTS/Erasmus Coordinator
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh)
Department of Economics
Thessaloniki 541 24, Greece
Tel: +30 2310 996423, 6932236366
Fax: +30 2310 996456
E-mail: kostos@econ.auth.gr