Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMÜ)

EMÜ has wide expertise in rural & community economic development with many years’ experience in management of EU cross border, national & regional projects in particular with the leadership of the CB Interreg IV A project Comcot, INFACTO & an active involvement across a range of other EU programmes. With this long experience in implementing & leading multi-partner & int’l rural community & tourism development projects EMÜ is ideally placed to take the lead partner role in the project with overall responsibility for management & coordination. EMÜ has also provided strategic guidance & management of the application preparation process as well as in drawing together the EST/LAT/FIN partnership. EMÜ has strong connections with Jap nature tourism org. As an HE knowledge transfer institution, EMÜ specialises in the creation, dissemination & teaching of up-to-date & relevant rural, community & nature tourism technical & business enterprise information through a wide range of channels including lectures, seminars, training, mentoring, demonstration events, social media & other online posts etc. They have a number of successful regional level 3D tourism planning and map design & modelling projects along with skills & expertise in community & nature based tourism development through which they have provided support to a wide network of local communities & tourism entrepreneurs.

Furthermore EMÜ will also contribute regional tourism development inputs for the cluster tourism product development & networking parts of the project. EMÜ staff has worked with ERTO (15 yrs) in developing Estonian RT & were involved in planning the Ecotourism Cluster Development project. EMÜ and ERTO were co partners in the LdV TOI Connect-VET project with Est. Tourism Education Ass & SMEs in designing joint strategies & activity plans. Similarly key EMÜ staff has strong & lengthy working links with Ruralia, LLU & LUMO experts in rural community & economic development.

Contact person: Lea Sudakova

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NGO Estonian Rural Tourism

Estonian Rural Tourism Organisation’s (ERTO) objective is to represent the common interests of rural tourism service providers in order to support the development of countryside tourism in Estonia. ERTO with its 300 members, represents a rural tourism cluster comprising rural tourism entrepreneurs, rural SMEs in agricultural and production sectors, active tourism providers, travel associations, schools teaching tourism and others. ERTO in its 15 years of activity, has participated in many cross-border and national projects concerning product development, branding and promotion of rural tourism, quality assurance etc. and has wide international networking experience. ERTO has been in the role of the lead partner or partner in many EU co-financed projects. During these projects a variety of analyses and research exercises, strategies, marketing materials for end users, manuals and training videos were completed. In close cooperation with EMÜ they jointly researched RT cluster organisations, including SME’s, Tourism Education Association, universities, vocational education institutions & coordinating bodies to define the needs & expectations of SMEs concerning education, advanced training & workforce HRD. Joint strategy and action planning was implemented for RT development & clustering. For the organisation’s members, training courses, seminars, workshops and conferences have been arranged. In addition, the organisation has shared its experience in many international seminars. ERTO is administrating the rural accommodation quality system and eco-label EHE system in Estonia. The organization works closely with the various tourism umbrella organizations and stakeholders. ERTO is also member of EUROGITES (European Federation of Rural Tourism). Japanese market is one of the priorities for ERTO and there are many links with Jap. travel agencies and media, as well as with individual tourists. ERTO has around 300 members Rural Tourism SMEs and project supports their members in marketing, product development, awareness raising of Jap market, customer journey, packaging and quality improvement, cross border cooperation, IT and innovations.

Contact person: Raili Mengel

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Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies

Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU) is the largest research institution in Latvia that implements research in agriculture and rural development including rural entrepreneurship, rural tourism and cultural heritage. In 2006 Latvia University of of Life Sciences and Technologieshas established Technology and Knowledge Transfer centre. The capacity and research experience of the Faculty of Economics and Social Development of LLU will ensure effective participation in all project work packages. The one of main activities for LLU is to provide high standard rural tourism market analysis, customer needs and customer journey gap analysis including surveying and interviewing visitors and service providers.

Understanding the Japanese tourists’ needs and expectation are the first step in order to deliver high quality rural tourism product. LLU will coordinate the preparation of the tourism operator’s manual for entry to the Japanese tourism market which will be distributed to rural tourism SMEs. The manual will focus on understanding the Japanese tourism market and customer needs in order to create products and services suitable for the Japanese market. LLU will engage in Decision makers’ forum providing knowledge in topics regarding to the entrepreneurship and public – private partnership which are essential in order to ensure a coherence of the rural tourism cluster company’s product quality and standards of target client groups.

LLU as high education provider will take an active role in product development work packages’ training program aiming to increase SMes knowledge on Japanese tourism market and other long distance target groups and understanding of methodologies for promoting their products and services to these clients. LLU will be responsible for project Communication work package in order to disseminate the project results to the specific project target groups and general public.

Contact person: Zane Vitolina

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Latvian Country Tourism Association “Lauku celotajs”

Latvian Country Tourism Association has ~300 members within the Latvian Rural Tourism Cluster: entrepreneurs, rural SMEs & NGOs, farms, municipalities etc. Work closely with ALTA, Latvian tour operator and agent association Activities: market analysis, development of RT products/services, training, marketing & promotion (brochures, maps, guides etc. participate in national & international travel shows & fairs). RT product development examples: “Green Holidays” (eco-tourism), “Latvian Heritage” (cultural & historical), “Countryside Bounty” (farm prod’n). Networking, cooperation, packaging & tour products e.g. local food “Culinary route”. Training on specific themes. Close cooperation with the Latvian Tourist Board towards Japanese market, supplying info to the Japanese Embassy on Latvian RT products including an image brochure in Japanese language.. Provide services for rural experience to Japanese visitors. International networking: Eurogites member, a leader or partner in over 40 national & int’l projects under different funding programs. Using their experience above they will be responsible for: Input of existing experience with Japanese market – define marketing channels, establish contacts with tour operators, media, etc.; Cluster product development on the part of Latvia; Cooperation with the Associated partner in

Latvia and integration of its input into project activities; Product development with other partners to achieve homogenous character and quality of the product in the whole region; Input in development of marketing channels, marketing strategy and marketing materials in the framework of the project; Engage in building contacts and establishing continuous cooperation with the travel trade; Contribution to and implementation of other partners’ outputs in the project progress Monitoring of the results to benchmark against project indicators.

Contact person: Asnāte Ziemele

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Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Laurea is a R&D-oriented University of Applied Sciences that focuses on service innovations, which produces high-quality professional competence. The R&D activities of Laurea’s service business focus on the following areas relevant to CAITO activities: 1) Developing service business activities 2) Service design 3) Service innovations 4) Digital services Laurea has a long history of close cooperation with regional stakeholders in

Uusimaa area, including tourism sector. In addition, we are actively involved in several service business networks, such as the Finnish Service Alliance, Service Design Network and European Living Labs.

Laurea’s specific contributions within the project include:

Competence in the area of Service Business

Providing access to different types of end-user communities (e.g. students), public sector actors (e.g. cities and regional council), and industry partners

Co-designing service innovations that are business feasible together with RT SMEs

Contributing with Service Design competences; utilizing e.g. Action Research and Service Design methods, tools and processes (e.g. personas, scenario building, blueprinting, business model canvas etc.) to co-create and validate tourism services in co-operation with companies, end-users, and other stakeholders

Business Development; helping companies to develop global business models while assessing the business feasibility of their products and services by utilizing the Business Model Canvas (customer segmentation, revenue model, required resources, key partners and the initial value proposition)

Contact person: Suvi Siven

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University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute

Ruralia Institute is a widely networked multidisciplinary expert institute at the University of Helsinki. The mission of the institute is to improve the welfare of rural people and develop the sources of livelihood in the rural areas through research, development, education and training. The Institute has expertise for example in developing and promoting small-scale entrepreneurship in the food, rural tourism, wood, and nature-based entrepreneurship (including nature tourism) sectors as well as in reorganizing rural services. In addition, Ruralia’s fields of expertise cover also knowledge in innovation systems, co-operative entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility and social sustainability of the business activities especially in rural areas. More information on Ruralia’s activities:

The description of Ruralia’s recent projects can be found at Contact person: Anne Matilainen

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Lohjan Kaupunki (Visitlohja) 

Visitlohja is a regional tourism office in southern Finland. Visitlohja is run by City of Lohja and co-operating with local tourism entrepreneurs and associations. Their common target is to develop the best possible tourism experience for visitors. Products and services offered include good accommodation in rural atmosphere. A unique part is to make your own food in the forest to high end cuisine in awarded restaurants and activities- from small hikes in pristine nature to glass blowing in the world-renowned Fiskars Village. The region is situated right next to Helsinki and can therefore provide an unrivalled combination of the Finnish lifestyle, culture and nature.

Contact person: Minna Ermala

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Länsi-Uudenmaan Lumo Matkailu Ltd (LUMO) (partner in project 2017-2018)

Lumo is a regional tourism marketing and sales operator owned by the local tourism related companies. Lumo is a public private partnership and is financed by 5 municipalities (Lohja, Inkoo, Siuntio, Raasepori and Hanko) and 27 SME’s. The idea behind is, that together these small companies and municipalities are more able to attract customers rather than everybody doing marketing operations by themselves. This is particularly important, when looking into foreign markets. Lumo has been involved in creating a regional tourism strategy and the regional brand. Lumo has a very strong relationship with the local tourism authorities and other officials a like.

Lumo is also the main contact point for stakeholders outside of the area. A strong relationship with the capital area and other areas as well is prerequisite when it comes to Lumo’s success.

Lumo can bring a strong knowledge from the field. This means, that the goals of the project are originating from the everyday life with the customers. This also means, that the actions taken in the project are implemented directly to the real life. This would not be only a ”nice study”, but a real life business development project owned by the real SME’s.

Contact person: Jukka Punamäki

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Associated partners

Association of Latvian travel agents and tour operators (associated partner)

Contact person: Astrida Trupovniece

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Estonian Travel and Tourism Association

Contact person: Kristen Lahtein

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Society Zemgale tourism association

Contact person: Lienne Rulle

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