International Conference of the SMARTiMONY Project

The two-day International Conference of the SMARTiMONY Project, entitled “Smart Tourism and Creative Cultural Industries: Driving Innovation and Collaboration for Sustainable Growth in Epirus and Gjirokastra Regions” concluded successfully on July 20th, 2023. The conference took place at the Hotel “Cajupi” in the picturesque city of Gjirokastra.

The International Conference commenced with the warm welcome speeches delivered by Mr. Odise Kote, the Prefect of Gjirokastra Region, and Mrs. Raimonda Bedo, the Executive Director of RCDC Albania. Among the first speakers was Mr. Ioannis Lolos, the Mayor of the Municipality of Igoumenitsa. The proceedings then continued with a comprehensive presentation by Prof. Chrysostomos Stylios, scientific director of the SMARTiMONY Project, who provided an insightful overview of the Project.   

Dr. Gentian Ruspi from the Dept. of Tourism, University ‘’AleksanderMoisiu’’ at Durres presented his study on ten significant geolocations in Gjirokastra City (Cerciz Topulli House, Bazaar Mosque, Zekate House, Skendulaj House, Kadare House, Babameto House, Ethnographic Museum of Gjirokastra, Gjirokastra’s Bazaar, Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior, and Gjirokastra Fortress). The study covered landscape elements, historical details, and related historical personages, events, and legends, offering valuable insights into the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Mrs. Mary Styliou, representative of LP-University of Ioannina, presented innovative ICT tools for promoting the cultural heritage of the Project Area, encompassing Arta and Igoumenitsa in Greece, and Gjirokastra city and suburbs in Albania.  These tools featured a unique storytelling method, effectively transmitting cultural content through 40 captivating stories created for the 40 geolocations. Additionally, the ICT tools included interviews with tourism and heritage experts from the Project Areas, four interactive e-Books with digitized cultural content about highlighted monuments, and Heritage Games designed to engage younger audiences. 3D models of the significant monuments, and a user-friendly navigation mobile app with points of interest listed from all four Project areas, providing detailed information about each monument, including contact details, websites, videos, opening hours, and nearby attractions, cafes, restaurants, and accommodation were presented.  Furthermore, Mrs. Styliou showcased an interactive map, which offers information about the most characteristic CCI’s sectors in the Project areas.

Mr. Konstantinos Foteinis, representative of LP-University of Ioannina, showcased the cultural experience designed and implemented for Arta City in Epirus, Greece. This experience encompasses both the tangible and intangible heritage of the city, including its monuments, captivating stories, legends, and historical significance from ancient to contemporary history of the city. Moreover, it delves into the city’s cultural values, customs, traditions, and diverse tourism experiences such as cultural, adventure, nature, culinary, and educational activities that visitors can enjoy during their stay in Arta. 

Mrs. Matilda Naco, a Tourism Expert and representative of RCDC, presented innovative strategies to empower the Suburban Areas of Gjirokastra. She presented ways to foster economic development, sustainability, and social welfare by incorporating cutting-edge products and creating cognitive-emotional experiences in tourism and Creative Cultural Industries (CCI) operations. This approach aims to unlock the untapped potential of the region, enhancing its appeal and offering tourists meaningful experiences that leave a lasting impact.

On the second day of the Conference, Mrs. Lindita Komani, cultural heritage expert, introduced her captivating stories about the geolocations in Gjirokastra city and its suburbs, showcasing the innovative use of storytelling to raise awareness for tourist sites. This engaging presentation was followed by the representative of the Municipality of Igoumenitsa, who shared the SMARTiMONY Audiovisual Production.

Next on the agenda was Assoc. Prof. Klodian Muco from the University ‘Zoja e Keshillit te Mire’ in Tirana, who presented the development plan for 10 geolocations in Gjirokastra. Mr. Stefan Arseni, representing the NGO ‘Miqesia,’ then demonstrated the process of creating ten videos and photos of museum objects, adding a visual dimension to the experience.

The highlight of the second day was the screening of ‘Pirro and Antigona,’ an enthralling short historical film based on the legend of Antigone, skillfully implemented by the Regional Cooperation and Development Center (RCDC Albania).

The SMARTiMONY Project is implemented within the framework of the Cross-Border Cooperation Program “Greece – Albania 2014-2020”. Lead Beneficiary of the Project is the Laboratory of Knowledge and Intelligent Computing (Kic-Lab) of the Department of Informatics & Telecommunications of the University of Ioannina, and the partners are the Municipality of Igoumenitsa, the Institution of Prefecture of Gjirokastra Region and the Regional Center for Development and Cooperation.

 For further information about the Project, please feel free to contact the Laboratory of Knowledge and Intelligent Computing at or call +302681050234.