The Concept of Political Tourism
Europe's Founding Fathers' Houses Network started the idea of a new way to travel called “political tourism”, a sort of European political pilgrimage. Interested visitors will be invited to the places where the history of Europe began. In proposing a set up of an information program and consistent route between the four sites, the project aims to give the public a knowledge that allows them to better understand the influence that the Founding Fathers had on the construction of Europe and the spiritual heritage that they passed down to us, to know the respect of others, and the desire for peace, liberty, and law. Our experience in the matter proves to us that this is all possible through visiting different memorial sites that played major roles in the process of the construction of Europe.
The initial path links the four houses together in France, Germany, and Italy. In passing the places where Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman, and Jean Monnet lived, visitors will discover the history of the great men who laid the first stones of the European construction. This journey will progressively be enlarged to other sites from the first map (such as the first community institutions) or those that strongly influenced the creation of the European area.
Being aware of the importance of tourism in the regional economic development, the Network predicts to set up a collaboration with actors of the world of tourism. Thanks to partnerships with cultural tourism agencies, proposing quality offers and corresponding to the needs of the diverse public, it will be possible to encourage potential visitors to make this voyage. The Network will recommend the cooperation with local businesses: important actors in the development of the local economy.
It is necessary to understand the word “politic” in the concept of “political tourism” as a reference to the Greek noun “polis”- the town, a community composed of free and independent men. It refers to the notion of democracy, one of the founding principles of the European Union. In ancient Greece, the city only existed because it was created by the citizens. We can without a doubt find this concept in the European Union - it can only build itself and function soundly with the active participation of citizens in political life. The Network therefore is the objective, to sensitize the European citizens to their common past so as to give them every possible chance to influence the future. This objective is becoming essential today, during a time when we see a big disinterest among citizens towards European political life. This disinterest, following the example of the increase in Euroscepticism, found itself largely in the incomprehension of workings of European institutions and the ignorance of the cultural diversity that makes up the European area. Therefore, it is essential to show more of an interest in the European plan, going through a more profound knowledge of the European Union and its history.
Political tourism in no way means political agitation or a militant path. The network, inspired by the Founding Fathers’ universal plan, didn’t intend to show any one political color, except for maybe blue and yellow, the colors of the European flag. It has a willingness to unite citizens around a common plan regardless of their diverse political tendencies.
The official announcement of the concept launch took place at a press conference in Brussels on 5 May 2009, just in time for the 60th anniversary of the Schuman-Monnet Plan.