STARLIGHT Summer school in Razlog

Traveling for a Passion and Finding a Universe of Friends (Michele Di Francesco, Starlight participant)

From 25th to 29th of September the first Summer school within the Starlight project took place in Razlog, Bulgaria.
The summer school was hosted by the National Business Development Network which is the Bulgarian partner in the project. 14 participants from Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy and Spain took part in the school. During the 5 days of the school the participants learned about entrepreneurship, customer care and the possibilities for development of Astrotourism in Bulgaria and Europe as a whole with the aim of supporting them to build their own career.

The school participants and the Starlight mentors together after defining the team groups

The participants were divided into 3 teams and each team had to develop its own business model of embedding dark skies observations for tourism purposes. Experienced tutors from the University of Economics Varna, the Astronomy Institute to the Bulgarian Academy of science and the National Astronomy Observatory in Rozhen helped them along the way.
On the 28th of September a Multiplier event was held in Razlog, at which the Starlight project was presented to different stakeholders and where the 3 teams presented their business models.

Starlight participants are working hard on their business models!
Wainting for stargazing activity at night
More night activities…. related to local culture!

Travel to the stars: Astrotourism

European group of experts visits the German Rhön star park

You don’t have to be a millionaire to travel to the stars, because star parks all over the world invite you to visit the stars and offer a nocturnal natural phenomenon that can be experienced particularly beautifully in the Rhön. Reason enough for a group of experts of the European project STARLIGHT to visit the Rhön within the framework of a professional excursion from August 28 – 30, 2023 and to exchange ideas with local experts. Central questions: How can stargazing be better used as a tourist trend to draw attention to the consequences of light pollution on the environment and biodiversity? What new career opportunities arise from astrotourism?

The starry sky has fascinated and influenced mankind throughout the ages, but in many urban regions this experience of nature is hardly possible anymore. Nocturnal light sources such as streetlights, building lighting, spotlights and billboards not only deny a view of the celestial bodies, but also have a negative impact on animals, plants and human health. Therefore, in order to experience a starry sky in all its glory, more and more people are visiting places that provide an unobstructed view of the celestial bodies and the Milky Way. Astrotourism is in the process of establishing itself as a trendy tourist topic. 

The European STARLIGHT team with Rhön Tourism Manager Silvia Hillenbrand (third from right)

STARLIGHT aims to raise awareness of the night sky

The European STARLIGHT project is dedicated to raising awareness about light pollution and providing information about the beauty of the night sky. In STARLIGHT, 92 thematically structured training units have been developed to qualify those interested in stargazing to develop tourist offers. This also includes qualification for astronomical guided tours and respectful interaction with nature. “The STARLIGHT program combines science-based education about the effects of light pollution with the acquisition of skills for tourist offers in the trendy topic of astrotourism,” says project manager Dr. Karin Drda-Kühn. She is the managing director of the non-profit institution “Kultur und Arbeit e.V.”, which was the only German partner to invite the European consortium to the Rhön. “There are already experiences in the Rhön that are exemplary throughout Europe,” says Drda-Kühn. In the exchange with tourism expert Silvia Hillenbrand from Rhön Tourism, the focus was on strategies in star tourism, target groups for tourism offers and the involvement of locals.  Star Park coordinator Sabine Frank inspired the European team of experts with a storybook tour of information and empathetic persuasion for the topic.

Attractive product presentation in the tourist info in Wildflecken-Oberbach
Pleasant meeting of the STARLIGHT team in the “Sonnentau” – hotel in Fladungen

STARLIGHT project keeps growing

Partnership met in Pino Torinese on 4 and 5 October. The project gets into full swing with Call for participants and first public event in February: next meeting in Slovenia.

The STARLIGHT project, co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme, focuses on the promotion of dark skies as a form of sustainable and experiential tourism. The partners gathered in Pino Torinese, Italy, on 4 and 5 October 2022, hosted by the INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Torino.

One of the main topics covered during the meeting was the Toolkit. Its contents are aimed at imparting knowledge related to three main thematic areas: Cultural Heritage, Biodiversity, Human Wellbeing and Health, and Astronomy and Stargazing. The Toolkit has been conceived to be easy-to-use for those unfamiliar with the topic and related terminology. The content will be available in English and the website will have an intuitive and attractive layout.

Furthermore, the project is now getting into full swing with the Call for participants. During the meeting, it was decided to adopt an open approach, in order to involve as many participants as possible. Requirements and costs for participation were also discussed.

In February, the first public STARLIGHT event will be held in Slovenia, with the participation of project stakeholders. Partners will also engage in defining the content and organization of Webinars.

STARLIGHT project launched!

The Kick-Off meeting was held 7-8 June 2022 in Innsbruck, Austria

STARLIGHT (Skills for Tourism And Recognition of the importance of dark skies) is a project funded by the Erasmus+ EU program.

STARLIGHT project aims at increasing job opportunities for young Europeans (18-30) with an education/training background in tourism and upskilling for already active touristic operators, identifying innovative sectors in line with market trends and specifically the promotion of dark skies as a competitive asset for sustainable and experiential tourism.

Despite Europe remains the n°1 tourism destination in the world, European tourism is confronted with many challenges, starting with the need to constantly innovate and improve quality. The sector must quickly adapt to the digital revolution and develop new attractive products in a sustainable manner for local communities and the environment. New skills, competences and knowledge will be needed, both for young professionals and for experienced operators.

STARLIGHT will involve 60 young participants to learn scientific notions on astronomy, biodiversity, history and culture, light pollution. They will be trained to create an innovative business, build experience boxes to be offered to tourists and finally learn how to tell the story of our skies and transform this into a job opportunity.

The partnership covers six European countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Spain) and encompasses various competences such as astronomy, nature preservation, cultural heritage, local development and sustainable tourism.

The partners met in Innsbruck, Austria from 7th to 8th of June for the Kick-Off, hosted by the Tyrolean Environmental Ombudsoffice. The event laid the foundation for the development and implementation of training opportunities on “Dark Skies” over the next 2,5 years. “The inter-disciplinary expertise of our partnership is the key for creating well-balanced educational tools on this broad topic” the host is convinced.

Side events, such as a tour through the Alpine Zoo and a pulse by the Innsbrucker Kommunalbetriebe AG allowed glimpses into nocturnal wild life and efforts for diligent use of artificial light in cities. 

In the next months the partnership will work on Project Result 1, the training material Toolkit that will set up a comprehensive knowledge base to be used as learning material.