1. INTRODUCTION – BACKGROUND
The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, hereafter referred to as "EASME", acting under the powers delegated by the European Commission (also referred as "the Commission"), is launching a call for proposals with a view to concluding grant agreements to develop and promote transnational touristic thematic routes and transnational thematic tourism products in the fields of nautical tourism and water sports tourism.
1.1. Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
This call is launched in accordance with the 2016 Work Programme for the Implementation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)1 (section 18.104.22.168. of the annex) on the basis of the objectives set out in the Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund2, and in particular Article 82(c).
1.2. General information concerning the call for proposals
The action covered by this call for proposals forms part of the EMFF Work Programme, whose implementation is delegated to EASME.
According to the Act of Delegation, grant agreements will be signed by EASME.
The Lisbon Treaty provides a new framework which allows the Commission to undertake measures in order to complement the action of the Member States in the tourism sector, in particular by:
a) Encouraging the creation of a favourable environment for the development of undertakings in this sector;
b) Promoting cooperation between the Member States, particularly by the exchange of good practice.
Within this context, in its 2014 Communication on "A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism"3, the Commission highlighted the importance of diversifying the coastal and maritime tourism offer as a way to increase the competitiveness of the sector and tackle seasonality. It further underlined the value of innovative tourism products, as transnational thematic routes, as a fundamental tool for the touristic promotion of our coastal regions and as a means to increase the competitiveness of the coastal and maritime tourism sector in Europe4.
As competition in tourism is now worldwide, the EU has to develop innovative and competitive products to attract tourists who are no longer only looking for the "sea and sun" option. Thus, the Strategy for Coastal and Maritime Tourism encourages EU Member States, local and regional authorities and the tourism sector to develop more targeted products, offering unique experiences to customers. The EU maritime heritage offers a competitive advantage in comparison to the rest of the world. Unfolding the potential of our natural and cultural heritage as a touristic attraction requires us to first and foremost ensure its protection for the future generations. In particular, with regard to nautical tourism, sailors, boaters and water sports practitioners are increasingly looking for a more diversified tourism offer to complement their holiday programs. Synergies with other maritime and coastal activities should thus be encouraged.
Transnational thematic tourism products and services are an important niche market with a large growth potential (e.g. cultural routes crossing several countries, industrial heritage sites in various Member States). Whilst recognising the important role Member States play in developing and implementing strategies for tourism at national and regional level, the Union should help the development and promotion of transnational tourism products which embody common European shared values and heritage and promote Europe as a "unique tourism destination".
These considerations have already led to the launch of calls for proposals5 as well as EU flagship initiatives such as the European Heritage Days6 and the European Heritage Label7. It is the intention of the Commission to capitalise on those initiatives and look for synergies with similar or complementary initiatives undertaken by other International and European Organisations, such as the "Cultural Routes" program of the Council of Europe (CoE)8 and the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Changing demand requires attractive and sustainable products that provide unique and customised experiences. Yet, potentially interesting sites or items are often not presented and promoted attractively or not well linked with other coastal or maritime tourism offers. The sector should develop new products promoting attractiveness and accessibility of nautical tourism, water sports, coastal and marine archaeology, maritime heritage, underwater tourism, eno-gastronomic activities etc.
Growing public interest in water-based sports, such as recreational fishing, boating, wind surfing and diving, creates potential and can help address seasonality because these activities do not depend on peak seasons.
This action will support the implementation of sea basin strategies and regional approaches, notably in the Atlantic (Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic Area10), the Baltic Sea (EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region11), the Adriatic-Ionian Seas (EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region12), the Black Sea Synergy and the Mediterranean (BLUEMED13). For example, maritime and coastal tourism is included as a specific objective in the Atlantic Action Plan and under the BLUEMED initiative.
2. OBJECTIVES – ACTIVITIES – GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE - OUTPUTS/IMPACTS
The main objective of this call for proposals is to support the development of transnational thematic tourism products and their promotion through the creation of transnational touristic thematic routes in coastal regions in the areas of nautical tourism and water sports tourism at sea.
The tourism products developed should aim at promoting at least one of the following segments: nautical tourism and water sports tourism at sea. Applicants are encouraged to create and enhance synergies with other relevant tourism segments such as food and wine tourism, culture tourism, health and wellbeing tourism and cruise tourism.
The routes created by the projects must be innovative in the sense that they result in a diversification of the coastal and maritime tourism offer in Europe.This action will involve the conception, development, establishment and promotion of transnational touristic thematic routes in European coastal areas.
DEFINITIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS CALL FOR PROPOSALS
- Nautical routes: transnational touristic itineraries with a minimum of 2 geographical sites in the coastal areas of two eligible countries15, designed to target the nautical tourism and/or water sports tourism at sea sectors by promoting tourism products for practitioners of nautical and/or water sports tourism.
Nautical tourism and/or water sports tourism at sea should be understood in a broad sense as including segments and sectors such as boating, yachting, diving, recreational fishing, surfing, activities linked to marinas and various water sports at sea. Nautical routes can comprise synergies with other tourist segments as a way to diversify the tourism offer for nautical and water sports tourists.
Therefore, a nautical route is a transnational touristic itinerary that comprises:
- tourism activities in the areas of nautical tourism and/or water sports at sea as a core component of the nautical route;
- additional touristic activities that can be added on and included in the nautical route, for example, in the areas of cultural (heritage) tourism, ecotourism, city tourism, agrotourism, winter tourism, food and wine tourism, health and wellbeing tourism, cruise tourism, nature tours, beach tourism, etc.
- Tourism product: for the purpose of this call, a “tourism product” represents a combination of different aspects (characteristics of the places visited, modes of transport, types of accommodation, specific activities at destination, etc.) around a specific centre of interest. This notion of “tourism product” is used by professionals in the tourism business to market specific packages or destinations. It is then possible to speak of specific types of “tourism products”, such as cultural heritage tourism, ecotourism, city tourism, agro-tourism, health and wellbeing tourism, winter tourism and nautical tourism, etc.
- Product Development: process that includes all activities needed to provide a set of tourism services to meet tourist needs, excluding the launching of the product into the market.
This call aims at realising the following specific objectives:
− Encourage diversification of the supply of European nautical tourism related products and services by the development of sustainable transnational nautical routes and associated tourism products;
− Foster synergies between tourism related activities on the coast and increase the benefits for the local economy and people;
− Foster transnational cooperation among various actors along the tourism value chain with regard to nautical tourism, water sports tourism at sea and related tourism segments;
− Reinforce market uptake and visibility of sustainable European transnational nautical routes and encourage their promotion to the public, encourage partnerships between different tourism segments and encourage synergies between different destinations.
Projects must undertake at least the following activities as part of the project implementation:
− Design and create a new transnational nautical route linking tourist attractions in the coastal areas of two eligible countries and offering at least one transnational tourism product tailored to the nautical route;
− Develop a long term16 strategy for the establishment and exploitation of the nautical route, including a communication and marketing strategy of the nautical route and associated products;
− Consult and validate with relevant stakeholders the design, creation, exploitation and sustainability of the new nautical route and associated tourism products;
− Develop the necessary tools and materials to promote the new nautical route and associated tourism products in line with the communication and marketing strategy developed;
− Establish a mechanism to support a solid and sustainable cooperation among the different actors of the tourism value chain.
Projects may propose other activities complementary to the core activities set out above.
Such complementary activities should contribute to realise the project objectives and be in line with the objectives of this call for proposals. Complementary activities could comprise for instance training activities, measures to seek complementarities and synergies with relevant projects funded under other EU programmes as well as with other relevant initiatives or policies (e.g. sea-basin and macro-regional strategies),
Networking with other projects
During the lifetime of the projects financed under this action, a number of meetings will be organised at EU level for the grant beneficiaries to facilitate the exchange of experience and good practices across sea basins, to foster mutual learning and to enhance the European dimension of the transnational tourism products and related nautical routes.
Project beneficiaries are expected to participate in these meetings, which will be held in Brussels or other relevant locations.
2.3. Geographical scope
The geographic area covered by the action includes European coastal areas and sea basins involving EU Member States and third countries17 participating in the respective cooperation frameworks (e.g. Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic area18, EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, Black Sea Synergy, BLUEMED), excluding volatile regions.
2.4. Expected outputs/impacts:
Projects under this action must achieve the following concrete outputs within the project duration:
− a new transnational nautical route on the theme of nautical tourism and/or water sports tourism at sea including at least one transnational tourism product associated to the nautical route linking attractions at different geographical destinations;
− a long term strategy (covering minimum 3 years after the end of the project) for the establishment and exploitation, including a communication and marketing strategy of the nautical route and associated tourism products;
− effective tools and materials to promote the new nautical route and associated tourism products;
− a mechanism ensuring solid and sustainable cooperation among the different actors collaborating on the newly developed nautical route.
Projects must aim to realise one or more of the following impacts:
− increased awareness of Europe as a sustainable, high quality and safe destination;
− diversification and less seasonally dependent tourism products offered in the area of coastal and maritime tourism;
− increased number of visitors to the targeted coastal region(s);
− creation of new jobs and/or increased income in the targeted coastal region(s).
In order to ensure that progress and impact can be measured, a list of relevant output and impact indicators, both qualitative and quantitative, must be included in the proposal.
3.1. Indicative timetable
The indicative timetable for this call for proposals is:
a) Publication of the call November 2016
b) Deadline for submitting applications 15 March 2017 (in case of hand-delivery by 16:00, Brussels time)
c) Evaluation period April-August 2017
d) Information to applicants September 2017
e) Preparation and signature of the grant agreement September-November 2017
f) Starting date of the project December 2017 – January 2018
3.2. Implementation period
Projects should not exceed the duration of 24 months.
The project duration shall start on the first day of the month following when the last of
both parties signs the grant agreement or at the date specified in the grant agreement.
4. BUDGET AVAILABLE
The total budget earmarked for this action is EUR 1,500,000.
This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.
It is estimated that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 250,000 and EUR 300,000 would allow the objectives of this call for proposals to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
EASME expects to fund 5 to 6 proposals.
EASME reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
• Applications must be sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications
referred to in section 3.
• Applications must be submitted in writing (see section 15), using the application
form provided in annex to this Call for Proposals.
• Applications must be drafted in one the EU official languages. Submission in English
is strongly encouraged and will facilitate the evaluation process.
Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1. Geographical eligibility
A/ Applicants from all EU Member States25 are eligible.
B/ Applicants from third countries are eligible:
− if a project activity is carried out outside the territory of the Union
− if the involvement of those applicants from non-EU countries is necessary in view of the nature of the action and in order to achieve its objectives.
For the purpose of the present call, the eligible third countries bordering the North
Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean sea basins and
participating in the respective cooperation frameworks (e.g. Union for the
Mediterranean, EU Atlantic Strategy, EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian region,
Black Sea Synergy, etc.), excluding volatile regions26 are as follows:
− Participating in the EU Atlantic Sea Strategy: Canada and United States of
− Participating in the EU Baltic Sea Strategy: Belarus, Norway and Russia
− Participating in the Adriatic-Ionian Macro-regional Strategy: Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia
− Participating in the Union for the Mediterranean: Algeria, Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro,
Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Turkey
− Participating in the Black Sea Synergy: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova,
Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.
C/ To be eligible, the proposal must include a transnational partnership for the creation of
a transnational nautical route with sites geographically located in at least 2 different
eligible countries, of which at least one must be an EU Member State.
6.2. Eligible applicants
1. Applicants must be legal entities. They can be public or private bodies. In the event
of private bodies, they must be properly constituted and registered under national
law. In the event of international organisations27, they must be constituted under
To be considered a public entity, the body in question must fulfil all of the following
• The body has been created by a public authority or is governed by private law
with a public service mission;
• The public interest of the body must be explicitly mentioned in the relevant
legal or administrative act(s);
• The body is financed totally or to a large extent (more than 50%) by public
• In the event that the entity stops its activities, all rights and obligations
including financial rights and obligations will be transferred to a public
For bodies to be considered as public entity, proof of compliance with the above
criteria should be provided together with the proposal.
2. Natural persons are not eligible as applicant for the purpose of the present call.
3. Applicants, both public and private entities, must be active in the following fields:
tourism and/or maritime affairs.
Where necessary for the development of a tourism product or the new transnational
nautical route, applicants active principally in another field may be considered
4. Legal entities having a legal or capital link with applicants, which is neither limited
to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation, may take part
in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs as specified in
For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application
form. The affiliated entities will have to comply with the eligibility and exclusion
5. Supporting documents: in order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following
supporting documents are requested for the coordinator and each of the partners:
• Public entity: copy of the resolution/law/decree/decision establishing the entity
OR if not available, any other official document proving the establishment of the
entity by the national authorities;
• Private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association,
extract of trade or association register, VAT registration document;
• Affiliated entities: shall demonstrate their legal/capital link with the applicant.
6.3. Eligibility conditions for consortia
1. Proposals must be submitted by a consortium (partnership) of organisations. One of
these organisations must act as the consortium coordinator, while the others will act as
2. The consortium must consist of a transnational partnership with applicants from at
least two different eligible countries as defined in section 6.1 above, one of which
must be an EU Member State.
3. The consortium coordinator must be established in an EU Member State. The
coordinator may be a public or private entity.
4. All partners of the consortium, including affiliated entities, will provide the
coordinator with a power of attorney in writing through a mandate signed for that
purpose28. The mandate shall fully empower the coordinator to act on the partners'
behalf in the context of the grant agreement.
Entities established in a third country other than those referred to under point 6.1.B/
above may participate in the action. However, these entities shall not be entitled to
receive Union financial support. Moreover, these entities will not be taken into
consideration for determining compliance with the eligibility conditions for consortia set
6.5. Eligible activities
Eligible activities shall be those necessary to carry out the project and to deliver on the
expected outputs and impacts, in accordance with the objectives set in section 2.1 and
including at least the activities required in section 2.2.
7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA
All applicants, including both the consortium coordinator and other partners, must
provide a declaration of honour (see template in the annexed application form), signed
and dated by an authorised representative, stating that they are not in one of the situations
of exclusion listed in that declaration of honour.
EASME reserves the right to verify whether the successful applicants are in any of the
situations of exclusion by requiring the supporting documents listed in the declaration of
8. SELECTION CRITERIA
8.1. Financial capacity
Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the period during which the action is being carried out and to participate in its funding.
The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:
A) Total grant value31 is ≤ EUR 60 000:
• a declaration of honour (to be provided by each of the applicants)
B) Total grant value is > EUR 60 000:
• a declaration of honour (to be provided by each of the applicants), AND
For all applicants except for public bodies and international organisations32, the following additional supporting documents:
• the profit and loss accounts and the balance sheets for the past 2 years for which the accounts were closed;
• the financial capacity table provided for in the application form, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures, in order to calculate the ratios as detailed in the form.
For newly created entities, the business plan might replace the above documents.
C) Total grant value is ≥ EUR 750 000:
• In addition to the supporting documents required under B) above, applicantsshall provide an audit report produced by an approved external auditor certifying the accounts for the last financial year available.
• In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the
above threshold applies by applicant.
If on the basis of the documents submitted, the financial capacity is not considered satisfactory, the EASME may:
• request further information;
• propose a grant agreement with a pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee (see section 11.4 below);
• where applicable, require the joint and several financial liability of all the cobeneficiaries;
• or reject the application.
8.2. Operational capacity
Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed project. In this respect, applicants have to submit a declaration on their honour, and the following supporting documents: