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FACET: Facilitating the introduction of circular entrepreneurship in the tourism & recreation sector 

The Interreg 2 Seas FACET project wants to encourage entrepreneurs in the tourism sector to apply circular solutions within their company, thereby creating new sustainable revenue models. With a strong consortium of project partners from Belgium, England, France and the Netherlands, experiments are being conducted with circular applications in the fields of accommodation, waste reduction and circular operation management. 

Tourism plays a strong role in the regional economies of the 2 seas area (covering the coastal areas of Belgium, England, France and the Netherlands and connected by the Channel and the North Sea) and according to the UN World Tourism Organisation tourism will increase from 5 to 8% yearly in the 2seas countries. Besides income, tourism also brings mass consumption of resources (estimated global increased consumption is 92% water, 189% land (Tourism Watch)) which could strain the already limited resources of the region where tourism and other sectors compete. Tourists also tend to produce more waste than locals (European Environment Agency in Tourism and the Environment 2018), further increasing the challenge (in particular due to the seasonality) of waste and waste processing. Although demand for sustainable tourism increases, and some entrepreneurs are starting to look for circular solutions, the general approach in tourism remains linear, in part because entrepreneurs lack knowhow on how to switch to the circular approach needed to ensure that tourism continues to be economically beneficial. 

FACET aims at increasing adoption of circular solutions in the tourism sector by supporting entrepreneurs in shifting from linear to circular. This will be done by demonstrating low-threshold solutions and extracting best practices, so that entrepreneurs receive hands-on knowledge and support in changing their business models. By facilitating the formation of a cooperation system for local entrepreneurs, increasing incentives, making recommendations for the removal of regulatory barriers and developing practical tools, FACET will demonstrate that quality and economic sustainability can be reinforced by circular solutions, so that circularity streamlines the entire sector and does not focus on a niche market. FACET will result in an increase of adoption of existing circular solutions among entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and will contribute to understanding among government and business support associations of the incentives and barriers to shifting from linear to circular models. 

Cross-boarder approach

The challenges of tourism in the 2Seas area are shared by all project regions, therefore the only possible way to tackle them efficiently is through a cross-border approach. There is complementarity between the different countries in terms of knowledge and experience that will benefit the project, and FACET will put it to good use through cross-border action development teams that work together in developing and monitoring demonstrations. Sustainable tourism and leisure within the 2Seas area requires the informed participation of all relevant cross-border stakeholders to avoid any competition effect, especially considering that a large part of clientele originates from the member countries themselves, crisscrossing the area. Currently there are lots of locally or nationally driven initiatives, working in silos. FACET will collate best practices and pitfalls into a joint model that can be applied on a much larger cross-border scale.

Several small pilots 

Throughout the 2 Seas area, FACET locally develops various practical, accessible and small-scale pilot and demonstration projects to help entrepreneurs gain practical knowledge and experience to make circular business models. FACET provides expertise and support in setting up these pilots. 

Cooperation groups 

At the same time, local and regional cooperation groups are set up between companies within and outside the tourism sector, suppliers and chain parties. These communities of collaborating parties are strengthened through the involvement of local governments, financiers and end users (i.e. tourists and residents). By involving governments, we look for ways to jointly tackle challenges within existing regulations. Appropriate financing constructions are also being sought for the realisation of circular concepts. This collaboration is a sure way to increase the introduction of circularity. 

Although the end users of the tourism product, i.e. tourists, are not included in the pilot projects, the demonstrations will give them the most benefit and guarantee the quality of their experience and perception of the area.  

Sharing knowledge 

Awareness of companies in the tourism sector about the circular economy, new business models and other forms of cooperation is an important issue within the project. Consequently, best practices gained are shared and exchanged both regionally and internationally. This will build up practical knowledge and support entrepreneurs in changing to a circular business operation / circular revenue model. The FACET project contributes towards stimulating tourist entrepreneurs to develop and utilize circular applications. 


The Netherlands: NV Economische Impuls Zeeland, HZ University of Applied Sciences, Camping and Villapark De Paardekreek 

Belgium: Westtoer, Blue Cluster 

United Kingdom: Greenwich University, Norfolk County Council 

France: Ademe: Agence de la transition écologique 

The project started in January 2020 and will run until March 2023. 

The total size of the project is € 4.215.014,85 euro.  

Interreg 2 Seas 

Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 is a European Territorial Cooperation Programme for England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The Programme is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and has a total budget of EUR 241 million to support projects for the period from 2014 to 2020. The objective is to develop an innovative, knowledge and research-based, sustainable and inclusive 2 Seas area, where natural resources are protected and the green economy is promoted.