Supporting the Development of a Transnational Thematic Tourism Strategy for
Rural Regions in Europe
“Travel patterns have dramatically changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism has been both a vector and a victim of the disease.” 

Escape2 is a European Erasmus+ project, involving rural regions from EU countries with a lower level of productivity and employment but rich in landscapes, culture, and heritage. Unfortunately, this potential is not fully exploited especially due to the current economic situation of the rural and mountain areas.


This project responds to the challenges faced: lower level of productivity and employment, marginalised communities, economic and social poverty. It does this by developing a High-Quality Rural Tourism Strategy inclusive of innovation drivers and learning stimuli for tourism start-ups & spin-offs. Recipients will build customised, unique skills and competencies in different spheres of the rural tourism sector which will help them overcome their business and regional challenges. 

Why the ESCAPE2 project? 


The tourism industry has been among the most affected industries during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a high number of stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions implemented by most states (World Health Organization 2020). During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not only difficult for tourists to visit different destinations due to travel restrictions, but many individuals were also concerned for their safety and health (Neuburger and Egger 2020). 


Read more about how the pandemic situation affected rural tourism and how stakeholders should cooperate for obtaining better results on local and national levels.

Project phases

Escape2 is implemented in 3 phases:

  • Developing a European wide mapping and strategy of rural tourism situations with a focus on good practices to improve the existing challenges they face;
  • Developing a curriculum that supports the Implementation of the High-Quality Rural Tourism Development Strategy (HQRTS);
  • Developing a Corresponding Online ‘How To’ HQRTS Course that will enable local regions to improve and distribute the strategy to key target recipients.
An international mapping of rural tourism situation

The first phase of the project has been a research process concluded with a European report that will be available soon, online, for consultation.


"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes in our lives. Not only our everyday decisions were affected but also our vision for spending holidays and our lifestyle in general. More and more people feel the need to spend quality time in nature, exploring rural tourism opportunities and discovering beautiful destinations on a regional or national level.

Even though the COVID-19 crisis is global, the impacts are territorially different. Because of the spread of the virus, many companies encouraged remote working. People were forced to stay at home and tried to do as much as possible from there: working, doing sports at home, cooking and having dinner, “traveling” via virtual city tours for example and many many other activities which they used to do before the pandemic.

A great number of people decided to move to their holiday houses or to buy a house in rural areas, as big cities were literally closed because of the lockdowns."

Rimetea is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Romania, with history, rural architecture, and wonderful landscapes, at the base of Trascau Mountains. The local tale explains the name of the mountain when back in 13 century, the Secui (Hungarian local ethnics) had to flee to the mountains from Tartars occupation, by getting hide in the calcareous massif.

One spectacular phenomenon that is happening in this village is that “the sun is rising twice” during summer due to the massif that keeps shadow over the village during the morning, even if the sun is up, and it gets lighter after it crosses the massif as well. [Read more]
A different and unexpected destination compared to the rest of the region, guardian of an extraordinary variety of colors and emotions: let yourself be seduced by the soft profile of the mountains that blush kissed by the setting sun, enchanted by the rustle of the leaves moved by the wind or by the song of the fresh streams protected by luxuriant woods.

The Monti Dauni are characterized by the presence of medieval villages, whose skylines are often dominated by the profiles of castles and churches, where the squares can be reached by crossing cobbled streets where the hooves of the steeds of knights and pilgrims still resonate. [Read more]
Tourism is both a vehicle for and a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of the virus by tourists was among the reasons for recent travel restrictions and for raising geopolitical anxieties among local people in European countries, and particularly in Italy.
Travel restrictions on the tourism industry were applied to 75% of destinations in the world as of May 2020: a 72% decline was registered in worldwide international tourist arrivals between January and October 2020. […] The “new mobilities paradigm” bridges several disciplines within the social sciences: anthropology, cultural studies, geography, migration studies, science and technology studies, tourism and transport studies, and sociology. Its multi- and interdisciplinary nature holistically addresses spatial displacement as a culturally, socially, and politically imbued act and not simply as a transfer of objects or individuals in space. 
Tourist and Viral Mobilities Intertwined: Clustering COVID-19-Driven Travel Behaviour of Rural Tourists, October 2021
This website has been accomplished during the project "Escape2 - Supporting the Development of Transnational Thematic Tourism Strategy", Grant Agreement no. 2020-1-ES01-KA202-082418, implemented with financial support of the European Commission by the Erasmus+ Programme. 

This publication reflects the views only of the author,  therefore the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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Asociatia European Association for Social Innovation | Calea Mosilor, Bucharest, Romania

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