CEnTOUR – Circular Economy in Tourism – is a project financed by the COSME programme, has a three-year duration (September 2020 – September 2023) and a total budget of 1,329,000 euro.

The Chamber of Commerce of Marche is the lead partner within a partnership made of 10 partners from 7 different countries (Italy, Spain, Greece, Moldova, North Macedonia, Belgium and Cyprus) two of which are outside the European Union.

The main objective of the project is to foster the diffusion and adoption of circular economy practices in tourism SMEs of 5 countries, supporting 68 enterprises of 5  European regions that could be considered as peripheral from the point of view of tourism development, through new skills, specific training and financial resources.


1) Strengthen skills and knowledge transfer through:

The development of a framework for capacity building and with specific resources, adapting and making the best use of existing ones.

The development of an SME support structure operating at the level of the country or focus region (in the 5 implementation countries where the SME support scheme will be put into practice). The support structure is made up of Facilitators in the field of circular economy, trained specifically for the project and preferably coming from the partners themselves.

The dissemination of a knowledge transfer between companies with different stages of awareness and activities in the field of circularity. These activities were also facilitated by the study of the most interesting success cases.

Training process: virtual or direct interaction, a study visit in Amsterdam, exchange of experiences between participants and technical support from the Facilitators.


2) Carry out technical support activities for the incubation, acceleration and growth of tourism SMEs in order to:

– promote a brainstorming phase and the identification of innovative solutions (through an approach based on design thinking), creating a community among companies and encouraging cooperation between different sectors along the supply chain. The attention was directed above all to the search for more circular and sustainable solutions along the supply chain at the local level, paying particular attention to some issues identified as particularly interesting in the design phase or in comparison with the participating companies themselves.

– solicit the adoption of certification schemes (Ecolabel) in a significant group of companies (the target was at least 10% of the total) by adopting marketing strategies designed specifically for circular solutions.


3) Create a stable network of institutions that can collaborate on circularity support schemes for tourism SMEs.

4) Promote the exchange of good practices and results at European level within a network of stakeholders and develop the conditions to replicate the CenTOUR experience also in other fields.


The big challenge that CEnTOUR has adopted since the beginning was the engagement of a relevant number of tourism SMEs located in some peripheral regions (in terms of tourist attraction) in a process that could lead to the adoption of circular practices.

This process has been built on the following road map:

  • Development of capacity building tools;
  • Training of the CE Facilitators (CEF);
  • Selection process of the 68 SMES;
  • Training modules for SMEs at national level (or international for specific topics);
  • Face to face actions led by the CEF using the Third parties financial support;
  • Networking, cross-sectoral strategies,  best practices sharing.

The process of selection of the SMEs

Target: 68 SMEs (18 from Italy; 14 from Spain, 12 from Greece, Moldova and North Macedonia).

Results: 66 SMEs selected (4 less than the target from Spain and 2 more from Moldova).

Some withdrawals during the action period.

The group of candidates was narrow but made of owners/managers engaged and aware of the opportunity given by the CE in terms of communication and marketing also to small companies.

Weaknesses of the selecting process.


  1. Create a common background in terms of skills and knowledge concerning the Circular Economy Approach;
  2. Enhance the awareness of the opportunities linked to the CE in 5 regions that have been chosen for their low touristic current attractiveness (Marche, Cantabria, Xanthi, Tetovo and Orhei);
  3. Sometimes the Capacity building process has faced obstacles due to the fact that the group of companies is made of really small companies;
  4. The high seasonality of the sector made difficult to manage a regular flow of the activities , especially from May to October.
  5. Regional or cross-sectoral strategies are useful but not easy to define and to apply.


  1. More than 60 SMEs (almost all among the selected group) have been part of the project from the beginning till now, have followed the training section, worked with the facilitators, thought an action plan and used the financial support given by EIMSEA.
  2. Italian and Greek SMEs decided to use the financial support to think in a different way their energy consumption approach; the water consumption reduction has been a second major objective.
  3. Moldovan and North Macedonian companies have adopted action plans where the food waste and energy consumption reduction were the main reason to use the financial support given by EISMEA.


  1. The strategy chosen by our SMEs (supported by the CEFs) is often made of a blend of different aspects: energy or water saving, less plastic or food waste, a new communicative approach, new marketing drivers. It depends on the previous experiences, on the market niche and also on the type/dimension of the company itself.
  2. Tour operators have different needs but they can be part of the strategy: they can invest on a specific communication strategy focus on the circular economy or they can invest on their network through a process of selection of destinations, accommodations and structures that are sustainable.
  3. There is a market for this approach! Small but growing (at least in the 5 regions of CEnTOUR).


  1. CEnTOUR might be considered by each member of the partnership as a starting point for a bigger engagement in terms of circular economy or sustainability oriented activities (as for CCIAAM);
  2. Thanks to CEnTOUR each partner has a method, specific and innovative tools, knowledge and skill and thanks to the facilitators, a recognised role among the companies: the experience can be repeated, also in different economic sectors.
  3. The selected companies may be a sort of “elite” in their territories in those situation where the awareness about these topics requires a significant increase;
  4. Often the companies which have been part of the CEnTOUR programme have learnt how to move through the financial support mechanism linked to the public funds, becoming able to discover and catch further funds.



EU Projects Officer – CCIAA Marche


Tel. +39 0715898218