INTERREG Greece-Italy - Long Term mission of the AI SMART Project


Autumn 2020

Setting tourist routes towards a greener horizon


The maritime tourism sector is a driving force for regional development, especially in the Adriatic–Ionian regions. Tourist ports represent important attractive gates to the regions, and they are often characterized by high aesthetic, natural and historical value. Their economic benefi ts are based on the scenery of the surrounding coastal area, on their environmental quality and on the capacity of the ports to create green routes to satisfy a "sustainable" and "inclusive" tourism demand.

In the small port network the AI SMART Project is a strategic proposal financed by the Interreg V-AGreece–Italy Programme 2014-2020. AI SMART aims to implement a common port network in the Adriatic Ionian area that connects, through an ICT Platform, all touristic ports of the Apulia Region in Italy and those operating alongside three Greek regions: the Ionian Island region, the Region of Western Greece and the Epirus region. The ports will share in common their facilities and their services in a transnational network based on the concept of smart, green and sustainable ports, exploiting the short-sea routes as an alternative to the cruise routes, to promote sustainable tourism. The AI SMART ports, through efficient connections with rail and inland transport networks, will act as key-hubs from which, access to inland territories, can be facilitated to discover their natural and cultural heritage The Project is led by the Department of Mobility, Urban Quality, Public Works, Ecology and Landscape of the Apulia Region. The idea behind this project – said the Head of Department, Eng. Barbara Valenzano - is that our territories deserve the development and setting up of short-sea routes towards a greener horizon: the Apulia Region has more than 400 km of coastline and more than 100 ports operate along the Adriatic coast. From the Gargano to the Salento, many ports and resorts have been awarded the Blue Flag certifi cation in recognition of the beauty of their coastline, their clean water, and the large assortment of services they offer to tourists. Our idea is to develop the AI SMART network as part of an integrated and sustainable transport system that can boost some of the TEN-T Corridors, getting through southern European territories, such as Apulia Region in southern Italy, Albania, Montenegro and Greece, as is the case in the Corridor VIII.

The project will create an ICT platform that can become the "virtual common environment" for increasing the capacity of local authorities and decision-makers to identify, manage and provide prompt solutions to day-to-day problems faced by small ports, starting from the identifi cation of resources (human and financial) for infrastructural and noninfrastructural interventions, to the continuous monitoring of the impact of environmental stressors as required by Environmental Management System – declared the Project Manager, Dr. Matilda Mali.

The collection of this data will be the fi rst step for defining a transnational governing tool and to promote a continuous and quite automatic updating of the Port Environmental Policy – said prof. Umberto Fratino of Polytechnic University of Bari, one of the research body involved in AI SMART Monitoring Activities.

In a similar context - Eng. Valenzano added - we also focus on other projects, which the Apulia Region is leading together with an international partnership financed by different Cross-border Cooperation Programs, i.e the ALMONIT project within Italy- Montenegro-Albania Program, the MARLESS Project and the CASCADE Project within the Italy-Croatia Program.