The 4th rurAllure General Meeting took place on 5 – 8 September 2022 and brought together representatives from all 16 partners of the international rurAllure Consortium coming from seven European countries. The meeting, taking place in Slovakia and Hungary, was focused on the project advancement with a particular emphasis on the Pilot “Natural heritage on the ways to Csíksomlyó” along the pilgrimage route of the Way of Mary.
The formal meeting was hosted by the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, managed by the project coordinator Martín López Nores from the University of Vigo, who reported on 20 submitted deliverables, from which 16 have already been approved by the European Commission.
Advancing in the technological platform which unites all the routes involved, the project has an ambitious objective of developing an IT solution to all pilgrimage and cultural routes of Europe, providing them with a tool for preparation of pilgrims’ plans, sharing them among friends and other pilgrims, identifying the most interesting points of interest and heritage sites along the routes and booking accommodations and other services en route.
In parallel, the project is also working on the creation of a network of European pilgrimage and walking routes, which will allow better advocacy and broader outreach of the routes’ needs and objectives to the European institutions.
The meeting also hosted a panel discussion on sustainable tourism with Alessia Mariotti, specialised in sustainable tourism from Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Martín López Nores from Universidade de Vigo, the Catholic priest Marian Gavenda and Eva Kocanova from the Camino de Santiago Slovakia association.
This discussion continued with the Hungarian stakeholders in Budapest on 8 September, where all associations of pilgrimage and cultural routes, such as Mária út, Via Francigena, Romea Strata, Via Romea Germanica, Camino Xacobeo and Saint Olav, presented their work and activities and exchanged ideas with local representatives of public and religious authorities. The participants also discussed the co-existance of religious pilgrimages with new forms of slow tourism, which now welcome young people in their 20es and tourists walking along the paths.
The participants of the meeting had a chance to explore the Way of Mary during a technical visit to the pilgrimage city of Esztergom, where they arrived by boat along the Danube, organised by the KIFU – Hungarian Governmental Agency for IT Development.
The visit continued in Budapest, where the participants learnt about its history and discovered its thermal heritage, part of the cultural routes of the Historic Thermal Towns, the rurAllure associate member.
The projects, such as rurAllure, enhance pilgrimages as an emerging tourism product, which allows sustainable travel, provides opportunities for economic development for local communities and leaves almost zero carbon imprint.