The central idea of the proposed project is the valorization of the mines and quarries of the cross-border area of Greece – Bulgaria and their transformation from places of traditional crafts and professional activity, to attractive and operational visiting places, for the local population as well as for visitors. There is arguably an overall trend on the European and global level, of a more sophisticated touristic demand, with visitors increasingly seeking an interactive experience of the local history, culture, and state of life, which become alive through tourism.

The project was developed by the Municipalities of Madan in Bulgaria and Pilea-Hortiatis in Greece, which recognized the re-exploitation of mines and quarries as a significant challenge and opportunity. For this reason, they contacted partners with expertise in the field of Mines & Quarries and tourism since the partnership required knowledge and expertise in these fields. For this reason, they contacted with partners with expertise in the field of Mines & Quarries and tourism since the partnership required knowledge and expertise in these fields.

All parties acknowledged as common challenge the re-vitalization of the old mines and quarries and their designation as important assets of the local cultural and social capital. The operation of mining and quarrying activities in the two locations has not only been having a major impact on the geographical and natural scenery of the area, but they have also been shaping a significant part of the local economic, social and cultural context. Some of the main communication channels and relations with the surrounding inland and on the cross-border level were based on the mining and quarrying industries. As a result, the economic prosperity of the two areas is associated with the growth in the two industries, in parallel with the historical boom in the related sectors, such as construction and heavy manufacturing. However, the inevitable techno-economic maturity of these industries, in combination with the ongoing economic recession in the area, has significantly undermined the condition of the old premises. Moreover, the concerning consequences of intensified industrial activity on the local natural environment have been impeding the development of tourism-related investments for the valorization of these assets for touristic purposes.

In addressing the above challenges, the project’s approach aims to valorize the idle mines and quarries by transforming them into spaces where the local history, culture, and tradition becomes alive, offering a unique interactive visiting experience. The project’s approach is innovative in two manners: (a) it integrates the local historical and cultural heritage in a unique touristic product (product innovation) and (b) it is targeting a specialized demand, leveraging the most significant economic activities already present in the area forming a new niche market (market innovation). This way, through the proposed activities, the areas of the old mines and quarries will function as a starting point for a thematic experience exploring the real identity of the cross-border area.

Great weight is given to safety and the identification of potential of each area and especially to the opportunity to create a new cross border pole of tourism and development more generally.