Pros-Eleusis: A new beginning

Pros-Eleusis (Personalized RouteS in Eleusis) is an innovative approach to the enrichment of the tourist experience. It consists of two elements; an ecomuseum, and the development of a technological tool that will enable us to offer personalized tours of the host area. The selection of Eleusis as the 2021 “European Capital of Culture” is the perfect opportunity for the launch of Pros-Eleusis in the real-world conditions of a location that faces certain challenges but has also numerous inherent possibilities for tourist development.

An ecomuseum in Eleusis

The word ecomuseum was introduced in France in 1971. The French museologist Georges Henri Rivière described an ecomuseum as a “mirror” that allows the local population to discover their own image and comprehend their territory and the preceding generations. This mirror also enables visitors to get to know the local community and its contribution to the common cultural heritage of humanity. Rivière argues that an ecomuseum is also a school, because it requires the active involvement of the community in the study and preservation of the past and the present, in order for its members to gain control of their future.

Eleusis has a rich history whose origins go back to a time of myth. Its connection to the stories and cult of Demeter, Persephone, and the introduction of the cultivation of grain highlights the significance of the natural environment for an understanding of this territory. The rapid industrial development of the 19th and 20th century transformed the town of Eleusis and the ecosystem of the surrounding countryside. The growth of industry generated financial opportunities and attracted immigrants from all over Greece, while the Asia Minor Catastrophe in 1922 resulted in the forced relocation of many refugees in Eleusis. The new residents contributed their personal experiences and traditions to the cultural landscape, creating a new social structure that survives to the present day, despite the painful consequences of de-industrialization and the financial crisis.

Pros-Eleusis and the city

The selection of Eleusis as “European Capital of Culture” generates a new dynamic for refurbishing the city’s cultural profile. The anticipated increase in the number of visitors by 2021 allows us to launch a project to highlight and differentiate Eleusis as a tourist product. The main axis of Pros-Eleusis is the development of experiential tourism through the establishment of an ecomuseum. The use of information and communication technologies will increase the competitiveness and quality of the services provided by local culture and tourism enterprises. Finally, the transfer of valuable know-how from research agencies will enable businesses to promote the city’s cultural wealth and enrich the visitors’ experience.

Pros-Eleusis will enable the municipality of Eleusis to grow as a tourist destination beyond the invaluable (but mostly unknown to the general public) archaeological site of the Sanctuary, to encompass the city’s urban core, the industrial zone, and the countryside. The ecomuseum will include a broad area to publicize the region’s rich cultural heritage through personalised tours with the use of mobile devices. The local community will gain control of its destiny and become a crucial component in the process of shaping the city’s future prosperity.

Key stakeholders

The project’s key stakeholder is the Research and Innovation Center in Information, Communication and Knowledge Technologies “Athena”. It was founded in 2003 to consolidate and expand research and development activities in the fields of information and communication technologies in support of industrial growth and the services sector.

Communications & Information Technologies Experts S.A. (CITE) was founded in 2007. Cite is active in the area of communication and information technologies in order to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions for companies and organizations. It also offers consulting services in the fields of CIT system design and data management. Mentor was founded in 2014 with a vision to utilize cultural heritage through innovative apps of cultural management.

Mentor focuses on Culture and Heritage Management (Mentor in Culture), and academic tourism/study abroad (Mentor in Greece). The company’s mission is dual. On the one hand, highlighting Greece’s tangible and intangible cultural assets and heritage. On the other hand, the research and promotion of ancient and contemporary Greek culture and philosophy abroad, through the design and implementation of experiential faculty-led education programs for students from all over the world, with the option of acquiring academic credits.

At the project’s conclusion, in approximately two years, Eleusis will have an ecomuseum and a digital app that will reinvigorate the local economy. New technologies and digital tools will create innovative products that will allow visitors to explore the cultural heritage and the natural wealth of the West Attica Regional Unit. The benefits of Pros-Eleusis, though, will also have a wider, national impact. The know-how, digital apps and good practices established in the process of creating an ecomuseum will be available for future use by any agencies or groups that wish to promote and take advantage of their cultural reserves.

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