As it was the time for the 3.SC Meeting planned to be hold in Istanbul Turkey, Covid19 pandemic started. Due to strict measures taken by governments, international travelling and physical meeting conditions disappeared. SC of CERTOUR II decided to have an videoconference so as to evaluate and plan the ongoing activities which should be moderated by PP6.
Teleconference started at 09:00 a.m. by inviting the partners into the virtual meeting room, adjusting the image and voice specifications.
Each partner stated the stage reached in the activities performed. The common point of the conversations is all partners are completed or about to complete the key activities namely A.T3.2 and A.T3.3 (Customization of management tools & SMEs peer mentoring II) are all carrying out management-related activities (AM.3 / AM4) Activities have slowed down due to the pandemic, however, all partners have stated that they foresee that they will complete the activities A.T3.2 and A.T3.3 by the end of May or June 2020 in accordance with the project timetable.
Secondly, the financial progress, the stage and expenditure plans and the saving amounts of each partner are discussed. Each partner explained the source and reason of savings which won’t be spent till the end of the project.
As there are 6 remaining months for the completition of the project and travelling internationally forbidden, the international activities such as study visits, expansion of the Certour Network and conference in RO and the local conferences where the project outputs will be shared with the public are discussed.
Regarding that there is no way to hold meetings or travel internationally, the idea of consulting with JTS to modify the existing activities with new online activities such as on line trainings, mentoring sessions with new topics with local target groups. On the contrary, it was emphasized that the Black Sea program is a neighbourhood program and if there is no international sharing, a project that does not meet the main goal of the program.
As a result, in the current months when strict pandemic measures were taken and the activities slowed down or can not be done (like 3. SC meeting in İstanbul), the idea of suspending the project activities for a while and extending the project period to create available time for partners re organize the activities.
In addition to this discussion, when and how long the project will be suspended and how long it will be extended was discussed. The main axis of following discussion is when the conditions will return to normal, the revival in the tourism sector and the weather and the individual status of the partners. As a result, the 5th Progress report of the project will be prepared as of the end of June, where all partners’ customization and mentoring activities will be completed locally, and the report will be submitted as of 10 July (the last 3 months of the project will remain as of July 10, 2020) and then the activities will be suspended for 4 months as of this date and It has been decided to start again as of November 11. It was decided to hold the 3rd SC meeting in Istanbul in November or December, when the activities were restarted.
On the other hand, the activities to be carried out during the remaining project duration of 3 months are; study visits, local conferences, expansion of the CERTOUR II Network and international conferences in Romania. As it will be winter when the activities restarted, it has been decided that it is appropriate to hold both the study visits and the conference in the spring months (conference will be in the first half of April 2021) with a 3-month extension due to the fact that both the weather conditions and most of the tourism SMEs in the Black Sea region are closed. For this reason, it was agreed that the project period should be extended for 3 months.
The partners requested from LP to provide official instructions, guides etc. to be sent by the MA / JTS, as they do not have enough information about how to stop the project, what to do with staff, activities and financial issues.
After the 15-minute coffee break, the meeting was held upon transferring the savings to new budget lines. Although it was discussed to carry out new activities in line with the needs of the target group SMEs, which appeared primarily in mentoring negotiations, this was not supported because the program only allowed to transfer savings to existing budget lines to increase the impact of existing activities. İn addition, it was decided that each partner should make a plan in accordance with its individual conditions, since the amount of savings in the partners’ budgets are different. It is decided that, each partner immediately has to send a notification letter to LP based on its own status and transfer the current saved amount and which budget line to be transferred. And just after that, LP will prepare an addendum covering the transfer of savings (after consulting JTS), suspension and extension requests.
As a summary, the decisions taken as a result of the meeting are as follows;
İt is decided that;
- As of the end of June, all partners have to complete on going implementation activities and the project will be suspended for 4 months by 11 July.
- 4. Progress report will be prepared and submitted on 10 July 2020 just before the suspension period.
- LP will provide official guidance from JTS / MA, so that all partners can take the necessary measures, regarding the suspension process.
- Activities will be restarted on November 11, and will be extended for another 3 months considering the weather conditions and status of tourism sector.
- The 3rd SC meeting will be held in Istanbul in November or December when the activities will be restarted.
- The international conference will be held in the first half of April 2021.
- Each partner immediately rearrange the budget savings to increase the impact of existing activities and prepare a notification letter and submit to LP.
- Leader partner will prepare the addendum letter which includes transfer of savings, suspension and extension of the activates and submit the letter to JTS/MA