To better understand the STEEP platform, here is a short outline of the Calypso initiative which has been the drive for the creation of the platform.
In December 2008, the European Parliament voted for the adoption of a preparatory action to develop social tourism in Europe. This action, entitled CALYPSO, was launched because many citizens are still excluded from tourism and travel, and Calypso aims at correcting this social inequality, assuring a universal access to holidays. The Calypso initiative helps disadvantaged people go on holiday - while at the same time increasing tourism in the low season. It works by promoting exchanges between different countries/areas. Calypso seeks to support 4 target groups: young adults (18-30 years), families facing financial difficulties, people with disabilities and seniors who cannot afford travel or are daunted by the challenges of organising a journey. For more information, visit the website of the Tourism Unit: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/tourism/social-tourism/index_en.htm
The Social Tourism European Exchange Platform (STEEP) project was launched in April 2012 with the objective to create an informative and transactional platform. The STEEP platform aims at bringing the offer and demand within social tourism in one location which would allow for quick and simple transactions between the two (offer and demand). Furthermore it can also give the opportunity for parallel tourism services providers to find and cooperate with each other. Different service providers can promote their tourism packages completely detailed with prices and attract groups, organisations, operators to purchase and/or promote the offers. Through the STEEP platform, a service provider or social tourism professional can strike accords with hotels, restaurants and other tourism professionals in order to construct a full package offer. This package can be placed onto the platform and bought directly from the platform, which makes the platform an intermediary.
During the project phase of the STEEP platform, different operators may be able to place and promote their products on the platform. They will all also have access to a public section which offers information regarding best practices, partnerships etc. During the period of the project this service is completely free of charge and will only require the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding and the Ethical Charter. When the project comes to an end, any service provider that has been supportive and assisted to build up the platform, will be given privileged treatment once it officially opens for business on 01/07/2013. At the end of the project, it is foreseen that the Platform will be associated to a new non-profit structure with a specific Europena scope.