A European initiative, the designation of cities in European Capitals of Culture (hereinafter referred to as the ECoC), was launched in 1985, with a view to highlight the diversity of Europe’s cultures, to strengthen ties between European countries through the cultural common that share and empower the sense of “belonging” in Europe. The ECoC thus have the opportunity to create cultural infrastructure, to improve their image, to turn into international cultural centers, to strengthen tourism and to develop their economy through an annual programme of events. (European Comission)
In this context, Matera, a city in southern Italy, was found in 2019 to be one of the ECoC. The region’s cultural consumption until her candidacy was one of the lowest in the country. Under the slogan Open future, Matera decides to open socially, culturally and geographically as a European Capital of Culture. One of the actions implemented by the city will be analyzed below as a case study for the development of its cultural tourism.
The initiative was related to those intending to visit the area of Matera. Taking a passport of the temporary citizen (Matera 2019 European Capital of Culture), they became part of the great plan of Matera 2019. This unique passport gained access to all events, exhibitions, productions intended to take place during the year. The cost of the passport was 19€ for tourists and offered free pass with the public transportation system in Matera, increasing its attractiveness to the future visitors to the city. Following a decalogue, temporary citizens became an active part of Matera’s regeneration.
It was the first time that something similar was applied in an ECoC by offering the greatest possible exposure to cultural consumption. (Matera 2019 European Capital of Culture) This policy turned the tourist into a member of the Matera community with cultural citizenship and responsibility towards the city, the natural landscape and the rest of the inhabitants, temporary and non. Matera 2019 invested in this sustainable solution to increase the visitors in the region, against the mass tourism that’s plaguing Italy, the results of which are becoming apparent through the participants in this long-term project, taking into account that ECoC are planning their programme to be continued and established.
Based on the published data, the cultural residents who became temporary citizens of Matera 2019 reached 75,000. Of the passports sold, about half (40%) concerned tourists. 59% of the public at ECoC events were temporary citizens, meaning tourists and people residing outside Matera. Through the passport of the temporary citizen, participation and attendance at events with a ticket were increased from people who would probably not choose to attend them. In the survey conducted in 2020, it became apparent that 68.1% of respondents were encouraged to play a more active role in cultural events through the passport. (Matera 2019 European Capital of Culture)
The idea behind the European Capital of Culture is the implementation of cultural diplomacy in the areas that each city can offer and where it can reach. The passport of the temporary citizen is an example of a successful diplomatic practice of cultural tourism.
European Commission. Retrieved October 30, 2022, από European Capitals of Culture: https://culture.ec.europa.eu/policies/culture-in-cities-and-regions/european-capitals-of-culture
Hellenic Institute of Cultural Diplomacy. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from Cultural tourism: https://helleniculturaldiplomacy.com/%cf%80%ce%bf%ce%bb%ce%b9%cf%84%ce%b9%cf%83%cf%84%ce%b9%ce%ba%cf%8c%cf%82-%cf%84%ce%bf%cf%85%cf%81%ce%b9%cf%83%ce%bc%cf%8c%cf%82/
Matera 2019: European Capital of Culture. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from Matera 2019 Bid Book: https://www.matera-basilicata2019.it/en/matera-2019/bid-book.html
Matera 2019: European Capital of Culture. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from Temporary Citizen: https://www.matera-basilicata2019.it/en/processes/temporary-citizen.html
Matera 2019: European Capital of Culture. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from Matera is a producer of culture: Monitoring report of Matera European Capital of Culture 2019: https://www.matera-basilicata2019.it/en/report-2019/in-matera-we-produce-culture.html