Cultural route

Welcome to the November ERIH Newsletter. After a lengthy break, we are returning to offering this information service on a regular basis and will be reporting four times a year on what's new in the ERIH network.

This newsletter focuses on the last annual conference in Berlin. Its topic: "Industrial heritage tourism - it's all in the mix. Successful industrial heritage marketing through connections with other tourism offers". We look back at the conference day with the following questions:

  1. Where is ERIH now?
  2. What kind of inspirations did the lectures provide?
  3. What were the topics discussed in the workshops?
Where is ERIH now?

On 1st October, the third year of the current four-year EU funding period started. The largest part of the annual budget is provided by the Creative Europe Funding Programme for European Networks, the rest is covered by ERIH itself through the contributions of its members. The funds are used for various ERIH projects, the ERIH annual conference, board meetings, national chapter meetings and special events as well as for networking with other organizations, media relations, communication and networt administration.

The funding enables ERIH to implement a large number of projects including

Logo of the European Funding Programme "CREATIVE EUROPE"
● Work-it-Out

The international dance event, which is entering its third year in 2020, is particularly high-profile. This year, 42 locations in 12 countries participated. More than 5,000 dancers - mostly adolescents and children - performed Beethoven's European anthem "Ode to Joy" to the electronic dance sound of the Frankfurt composers Paul & Friends. The associated social media campaign reached 1.8 million people.
project details

The Work-it-Out logo, consisting of the ERIH gear in green with the inscription "WORK it OUT. Day of Industrial Culture"
● Twinning of Sites

The exchange programme allows two thematically related sites to learn from each other through mutual visits and possibly find joint solutions to problems or initiate projects. This year there were two pairs of sites: Henrichshütte Hattingen (Germany) and the blast furnace plant Puerto de Sagunto (Spain) as well as the mining museums in Zabrze (Poland) and Blaenavon (UK). In 2020 ERIH will be supporting two further twinning partners with 1,500 euros per site, each of which can delegate up to three employees. The call for applications will be launched soon.
project details

Logo of the ERIH project TWINNING OF SITES, showing a horizontal eight with two inscribed ERIH logos
● Linking Europe

This special form of exhibition concentrates on a specific exhibit, a characteristic building or even on a story that connects two ERIH sites across national borders. What this connection actually consists of is explained by displays that are installed at both sites bearing the LE logo. The ERIH website presents these "Linking Europe" stories in a virtual exhibition. Thus, ERIH illustrates online and offline the transnational links and interconnections that have shaped Europe's industrial history from its very beginnings. A typical example are the tower-like engine houses of Cornwall's mines, which have spread over many regions of Europe by miners who emigrated from Cornwall and which are particularly numerous in the Linares mining district in Spain.
project details
Virtual Exhibition "Linking Europe"

The LE logo, consisting of the ERIH gear in pink with the inscription "LINKING EUROPE"
● Volunteers' Management

Since most ERIH sites - especially the smaller ones - rely on volunteering, ERIH supports its members in establishing an efficient volunteer management system. In this context, best practice examples will be collected. In addition, it is planned to commission a master thesis in cooperation with the HTW Berlin (Berlin University of Applied Sciences for Engineering and Economics) in order to provide relevant solutions by investigating various approaches and models based on selected European references.

Two grey haired men wearing orange overalls and helmets who are working as volunteers at ERIH Anchor Point Big Pit: National Coal Museum World Heritage Site, Blaenavon, UK

ERIH continues to grow

In total, ERIH currently lists over 1,850 sites in all European countries. Three new Regional Routes - Scotland (UK), Basque Country (E) and Asturias (E) - and a new Theme Route - Communication - add to the route system. This proves once again the enormous growth in the past 20 years - ERIH celebrates its 20th anniversary this year! More than ever, the network is now a pan-European project.

Cake commemorating the 20th anniversary of ERIH, bearing the inscription "European Route of Industrial Heritage 1999-2019" plus logo and internet address

Award: ERIH certified as Cultural Route of the Council of Europe

Since May 2019 ERIH is officially entitled "Cultural Route of the Council of Europe". The European Cultural Routes symbolize the shared cultural heritage from which each of them picks a theme and explores it on the basis of a cross-border route. ERIH represents the European industrial history. The certification as a cultural route of the Council of Europe bestows a seal of quality on the network and provides new opportunities for networking.
What are the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe?

The lectures

90 participants from 19 countries exchanged ideas on how to attract more visitors with cross-marketing strategies. The key question was: To what extent can cooperation with other tourism providers help to raise the profile of an ERIH site and tap new target groups?

Following opening addresses by Prof. Joseph Hoppe, Deputy Director of the ERIH Anchor Point German Technical Museum and the Berlin Centre for Industrial Heritage, both institutions jointly hosting the conference, and ERIH President Prof. Dr. Meinrad Maria Grewenig, the first guest speaker was Dr. Anna Hochreuter from the Berlin Senate Department for Economics. She drew a line from Berlin's historic status as Germany's largest industrial city at the beginning of the 20th century to its current role as a major tourist attraction, with its rich industrial heritage currently being highlighted from a new perspective.

The possibilities in this respect were explained by Bettina Quäschning from visitBerlin, Berlin's official tourism and congress marketing organization. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, for example, visitBerlin designed a "Grand Tour of Berlin Modernism", which makes historical relics of industrial heritage a priority. On the visitBerlin website, industrial heritage will also be playing a more important role in the future. Furthermore, current plans envisage the marketing of the capital as "Berlin - Green City" - a label that could include industrial monuments and museums as well, for instance alongside the city's abundant waterways. the change of approach is based on a new tourism strategy that focuses on quality and seeks to include less centrally located sights. It is mainly aimed at visitors who have been to Berlin before and, by relying on theme routes, look for new aspects of the metropolis. In this context, industrial heritage sites are increasingly taking centre stage in local tourism marketing.

Collage of speakers, showing Prof. Joseph Hoppe, Prof. Dr. Meinrad Maria Grewenig, Dr. Anna Hochreuter, and Dr. Adam Hajduga (from upper left)
Prof. Joseph Hoppe, Prof. Dr. Meinrad Maria Grewenig, Dr. Anna Hochreuter, Dr. Adam Hajduga

The keynote speech on the conference subject was delivered by board member John Rodger. According to his statement, industrial heritage is no longer a niche market, but for large tour operators the topic still has little relevance. That's why additional attractions are needed to draw visitors. As examples, he cited high-profile art exhibitions, as demonstrated by the World Heritage Site Völklingen Ironworks, or the diversification of the product, as seen in New Lanark World Heritage Site with its four-star hotel, restaurant and outdoor activities in the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve.

Further presentations followed-up to provide examples of successful industrial heritage marketing. Harald Spiering from the Regional Association Ruhr and Jochen Schlutius from the Ruhr Tourism Ltd. (RTG) talked about the evolution of the new brand, which attracts a broad audience by connecting cycling tours and industrial monuments. The concept is such a success that an equivalent is now being considered at European level: a EuroVelo cycle route of almost 4,000 kilometres, covering industrial heritage sites across the classic mining districts – from Telford in England, the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, to Katowice in Poland.

Collage of speakers, showing John Rodger, Bettina Quäschning, Harald Spiering and Jochen Schlutius (from upper left)
John Rodger, Bettina Quäschning, Harald Spiering, Jochen Schlutius

Regina Rauch-Krainer, founder of the Austrian tour operator TLS Reisekultur, and Raffaele Caltabiano of the volunteer industrial heritage association Associazione Amideria Chiozza, Italy, shared examples of their fruitful cooperation under the title " Lost industrial places: a new tourism in Central Europe". In collaboration with the University of Udine, they have developed an emotionally stimulating guided tour of the former, usually restricted, Chiozza chemical factory and inspired various travel groups over the last three years.

Collage of speakers, showing Regina Rauch-Krainer and Raffaele Caltabiano
Regina Rauch-Krainer and Raffaele Caltabiano

Cornelia Magnusson from the ERIH Anchor Point World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station, Sweden, demonstrated how visitor numbers can be increased significantly - in this case by 38 percent last year. Her winning formula: think outside the box and combine a variety of activities. As for Grimeton, the marketing mix includes the cooperation with a hop-on hop-off bus, connecting 15 sights within the region, as well as high-profile climbing tours to one of the 127 meter high aerial towers, a crowdfunding campaign and regular briefings for the local population.

Cornelia Magnusson of the ERIH Anchor Point World Heritage Grimeton Radio Station, Sweden, and ERIH UK Co-ordinator Jonathan Lloyd who chaired the conference
Cornelia Magnusson and Jonathan Lloyd

Concluding the lectures, Dr. Peter Wakelin, independent writer and consultant in arts and heritage, reflected on the role of industrial heritage in the context of developing natural environments for tourism. Referring to the Welsh national parks of Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons and the popular Dee Valley, he traced the roots of industrial tourism back to the Romantic period and discussed the extent to which sites of industrial heritage add to natural tourist attractions. They can, for instance, alleviate the impact of overtourism on nature reserves or, in turn, provide an additional source of income for communities with limited tourism potential. This requires exciting experiences, ranging from underground boat trips in Tarnowskie Góry or in the “Queen Louise” Adit to the immense terraced slopes in the Erzberg Adventure open-cast mine and the elegant arch of the Iron Bridge, the first of its kind in history.

All lectures are available for download on the ERIH website.

Dr. Peter Wakelin giving his lecture
Dr. Peter Wakelin
The Workshops

The ERIH Conference workshops have become established as panels for discussion. This year the groups were smaller, thus stimulating the discussions and facilitating an intensified exchange of experience and ideas, which is reflected by the flipchart protocols. The participants could choose from a range of three subjects:

  1. successful tourism products and offers
  2. cooperation with Destination Management Organisations (DMO) and tour operators
  3. tourism marketing for regional networks and routes

Each workshop was provided with a prepared questionnaire as a basis for discussion. The questions covered, among other things, opportunities and challenges of working with tourism stakeholders or asked whether marketing measures are already in use and which target groups they are supposed to address. In addition, each workshop collected suggestions on how ERIH might support individual sites or regional networks. After one hour, participants had the opportunity to change the discussion panel and get involved in one of the other two subjects. Eventually, the workshops produced specific ideas and recommendations that provide valuable input for the further development of the ERIH network.

In particular, two issues were repeatedly raised in the discussions. The first relates to the different perspectives of industrial heritage sites and tourism organizations. Target groups, key topics and USPs often differ from each other. In addition, tour operators usually lack an understanding of the scope and potential of industrial heritage. Their employees focus on mainstream topics and have little or no experience with industrial monuments and museums.

What does this mean for ERIH sites? With this in mind, the workshops developed a whole series of recommendations, such as linking own tourism products to major cultural events or cooperating with other industrial heritage sites to create exciting stories and experiences. Another idea is to increase collaboration between industrial museums and operating companies, because looking behind the scenes of present-day production processes is particularly attractive to visitors.

Another recurring topic of discussion was market research. It is the basis for designing tourism products by investigating and defining relevant target groups and their specific needs. From this, appropriate marketing measures and messages can be derived. At the same time, a consistent approach enhances the prospects for public subsidies and other external funds.

The fact that regional routes are not the only option when it comes to successful tourism marketing for regional networks was an essential finding of the participants of the 3rd workshop. A good example for a new approach is the "Industry Open" conference at Pilsen, which took place for the second time this year. Being a platform for project-based partnerships between industrial heritage sites and local companies and entrepreneurs, it aims to promote the industrial heritage of the Pilsen region and turn it into a visitor attraction. Meanwhile, "Industry Open" has been successfully established as a brand and provides the starting point for the establishment of a regional network. In contrast to the Route of Industrial Heritage in the Ruhr area or the Route of Technical Monuments in the Silesian Voivodeship, the Pilsen regional route evolves from an event and not vice versa. An advantage, according to the discussion, could be that events attract more attention right from the beginning and get more people involved.

How can ERIH support these efforts? There have been many suggestions on this question. The need to promote industrial heritage and the ERIH brand in the travel industry more vigorously was one of the major concerns. ERIH is also sought after in the field of market research, for example by commissioning a research on target groups and their relevance for industrial heritage. A further idea was the development of a pan-European system for the certification of sites in terms of quality of service and visitor experience, e.g. similar to the star rating of hotels. The bucket list also included the transfer of expertise via social media workshops or basic trainings for local guides on industrial heritage. In addition, it was suggested to set up a task force to advise regional routes on networking and events. This led to the idea of offering a workshop exclusively for regional route coordinators at the next ERIH annual conference.

Save the date:
ERIH Annual Conference 2020

Apropos annual conference: Next year, the ERIH family will be meeting from 7 to 9 October at the Museum of Industry in Ghent, Belgium. Many thanks to the colleagues from Ghent for the invitation!

Other events dealing with industrial heritage (tourism)


This year's conference would not have been possible without the generous hospitality of the German Technical Museum and the Berlin Center of Industrial Heritage, who jointly hosted the conference and co-organized it with ERIH! This included the organization of exciting excursions that added to the conference day: a tour of the "Elektropolis" and the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Center in Berlin-Oberschöneweide as new ERIH Anchor Point, an exclusive guided tour of the AEG Turbine Factory as one of the landmarks of the "Elektropolis", and a tour of the former Tempelhof Airport, which has shaped the history of Berlin more than almost any other building. A big thank you for that!