The contracting process of projects that were awarded a grant from the Tourism Cooperation call has been finished successfully and almost all projects are up and running. I am quite happy with how most of the contract negotiations went, and despite some difficult issues that were encountered along the way, there was always willingness on both sides to find a quick and simple solution that enabled the negotiations to proceed. This promises well for the implementation of the projects and should the same energy, perseverance and determination be put into the projects in the future, they will certainly all succeed and produce lasting results for the years to come.
I am sure that the contracting process has been a learning experience for everyone. The basic idea of the contracting process from our side is to remove ineligible costs from the budget, as all the successful applicants know by now. I will not repeat the criteria that are used to make an eligibility assessment here – those who are interested can look them up in the Programme Manual and the Guidelines for the Calls for Proposals – but in general most ineligible costs seemed to be related to activities that did not support or advance the objectives of the project at all. However, surprisingly many of these cases turned out to be misunderstandings, mostly because the description of the activity was not sufficiently detailed or the term used for the activity was misleading. While these issues were transient in nature and easy to fix, it does take a lot of time to try to clear up what is really meant by a description or term. This is a valuable lesson for all of us, because such issues needlessly prolong the contracting process and they could easily be avoided by paying more attention on how activities are described in the application.
The Tourism Cooperation projects will have their next seminar in December. It will be interesting to see how the tourism portfolio of our Programme is progressing and what kind of results we can expect from it. Considering the promising atmosphere of cooperation that we had in Joensuu last February, I am sure we all have high hopes and expectations of the tourism projects.
See you all in December!