Greenways and tourism: EU funding opportunities - Senior tourism - Greenways Product Project -  News from members from France, Ireland, Spain, UK -
MAY 2014

Pedro Ortún addresses the Greenways Product workshop in Madrid

The EU funds many tourism and greenway
projects in Europe

Tourism Director of the European Commission supports European Greenways

EU funding for tourism and greenways

In January, the European Commission Director of Tourism, Pedro Ortún, opened and closed a workshop entitled “Greenways: New clients, new business” held in Madrid to further the aims of the EU-funded project, Greenways Product.

Ortún expressed his enthusiastic support for “Greenways” as an important EU initiative in the push for sustainable tourism. He showed his appreciation for the work of The European Greenways Association (EGWA) and encouraged the organisation to continue with its promotion of greenways and drive to bring new partners on board from more countries.

The workshop was organised by EGWA and the Spanish Railways Foundation (FFE) to coincide with FITUR International Tourism Fair. As well as FFE, the co-ordinator of the project, various members of EGWA (such as Fundación Via Verde de la Sierra, Vidzeme Tourism Association, CIM Dao Lafoes, and Associaçao Portuguesa de Corredores Verdes) are partners in the Greenways Product initiative, the overall aim of which is to make the transition from greenways as a “resource” to greenways as a “product” to drive economic development in regions where such routes exist.

The workshop attracted some 60 participants from 9 countries. The presentations were followed by a lively and productive debate and are available on the EGWA website (click here)  

In March, EGWA participated in an Information Day in Brussels promoting the different EU funding opportunities applicable to tourism projects in the period 2014-2020.

The conference was very interesting and featured expert speakers from the main directorates of the European Commission in charge of the main EU Funds who presented the opportunities for EU funding of tourism.

There are many opportunities offered for EU funding of tourism and greenways. European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), Rural Development Funds (EAFRD), European Social /Cohesion Funds (ESF) and European Maritime and Fisheries Funds (EMFF) are especially relevant.

Most of the funds will be managed by EU member states. Tourism has not been included among the 11 investment priorities for the future Cohesion Policy, as it constitutes a means or a sector (rather than an objective). Tourism must be included in the different thematic objectives (TOs) as a priority to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and employment.

It is very important to be aware that the actions relating to tourism (and greenways) must be included in the Regional Strategies and Operational Programmes in order to be subsequently financed by European funds at a later stage (2014-20), otherwise they will not be eligible and not financed. It would also be advisable to include explicitly indicative actions relating to greenways to be financed in those Operational Programmes.

Following on from the event, the Association has prepared a document for greenway stakeholders highlighting the importance of being well prepared to apply for grants. It draws attention to the basic requirements to be eligible for European funding and makes some practical recommendations to tourism and greenway projects wishing to benefit from these funds. It is entitledEU funding for tourism and greenways. Requirements and tips to benefit from European funding in the new period 2014-2020.”

Information Day presentations can be downloaded from the Commission website (click here
They are also streamed in English, French, Spanish, Italian and German here

Senior tourists enjoy all sorts of physical activities and can play an important role in boosting tourism in the medium and low seasons

Greenways represented at the EU expert group for senior tourism

EGWA was invited to work with the expert group which supports the European Commission Tourism Directorate to prepare a new initiative: “Europe, the best destination for senior tourists”. The initiative will help to increase the flow of senior tourists in Europe, particularly during the medium and low seasons.

Greenways are an ideal resource to develop senior active tourism in Europe in the medium and low seasons and can easily compete with other forms of active tourism. EGWA’s contribution was to show that greenways are suitable infrastructures for senior tourism, whilst at the same time to stress the importance of cycle tourism and its intermodality, especially train + bicycle.

The initiative will represent both an opportunity for senior tourists to discover Europe and its great natural spaces by greenway, and for territories where greenways exist. But these regions must take advantage of the asset that greenways represent and develop innovative products to attract new clients during the medium and low seasons. EGWA will work to encourage and support the use of greenways to develop and promote senior tourism and to overcome seasonality. 

The next workshop on “Creating a tourism product in Latvia” will be held in Riga on Wednesday 21 May, 2014

The workshop is being organised by the Vidzeme Tourism Association with the co-operation of EGWA and FFE, in the framework of the Greenways Product project.

The greenway concept, as well as the necessary infrastructure, are still in their infancy in Latvia, but we are looking forward to the upcoming seminar to inform wider audiences, including policy makers at the highest levels, about the benefits and economic impact that greenways can potentially generate in the future.

The workshop will be attended by Members of Parliament, municipality planning experts and tourism experts and entrepreneurs.  We hope that the event will enable participants to establish new contacts concerned with all greenway-related topics and also create new opportunities for international co-operation in the future.

For Programme, registration and practical information 
 click here 

Slow tourism requires good intermodality between rail and bike

A workshop on “Intermodality and slow tourism” will be held in Rovigo, Italy, on 1 and 2 June, 2014 

1 June: "Slow tourism between the Adige and the Po" will be promoted at "Bicitalia Day 2014".
2 June: a workshop will be held entitled “Intermodality and slow tourism", followed by associated technical visits on intermodality in the Po Delta and a bike ride.

The workshop is being organised in the framework of the 
Greenways Product project

Further info:

Greenways help to preserve our railway heritage and stimulate industrial tourism

A workshop on  “Greenways, heritage railway and industrial tourism” is being held at the 3rd Crossroads of Europe conference

The 3rd Crossroads of Europe conference and 5th European Conference of Industrial Tourism will follow the theme “Identity, Industry and Culture”, and will highlight the importance of cultural routes in the development of Europe as a single destination. The spotlight will be on industrial tourism as a new way to attract tourists and to ensure a swift economic turnaround in abandoned industrial areas.

The workshop on “Greenways, heritage railway and industrial tourism” will raise awareness of the importance of greenways in industrial and cultural heritage and of the asset that they represent for sustainable tourism in Europe.

These events will take place between 17 and 20 June 2014, in Ferrol, A Coruña, Spain. The conference is co-organised by the European Commission General Directorate for Enterprise and Industry, the Provincial Council of A Coruña, the French Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Toledo.

Participation is free but prior registration is compulsory.
Further info:   

The Vennbahn: cycle route of the year 2014

After being awarded a special prize in the “Tourism Product” category at the European Greenway Awards in October 2013, the Vennbahn has recently been crowned "Cycle Route of the Year" at the Fiets en Wandelbeurs (“Bike and Hike Fair”) in Amsterdam.

The Vennbahn cycle route has been developed along the old railway line that connected Aachen in Germany and Troisvierges in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg through Monschau and St Vith.  Extending some 125 km, it has become one of the longest “rail trails" in Europe.

17 km of the Vennbahn route runs through Germany and 10 km through Luxembourg, leaving 80% of its course running through Wallonia in Southern Belgium. The Vennbahn utilises RAVel line 48 (Raeren to St Vith) and RAVel line 47 (St Vith to Lengeler) all in the province of Liège. So, in effect, the European awards given to Vennbahn, are awards given to our RAVel project, too, as Wallonia has been the biggest contributor to this great European initiative co-funded under the Interreg programme.

It is worth noting that since the opening of the Vennbahn, hoteliers in the region have seen bookings from cyclists exceed those from hikers - the main visitors until recently. 
Recipients of the award: Isabell Weiykmans, Minister of Tourism of the German Community (centre) and Dany Heck from the East Belgium Agency of Tourism (right)         

Andalucia's greenways will thrive with help from the region's Ministry of Public Works and Housing

Andalucia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing supports the greenway network

Andalucia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing is developing a new initiative to create a platform for the dissemination of information about land in Andalucia and for technical support of the region’s greenways. The project is being developed by the University of Seville and the FFE, and is co-funded from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund.

The project, called “The establishment of a platform for territorial information and technological support to the greenways in Andalusia. Citizen access to the knowledge society" will result in the creation of tools for the development and promotion of Andalusia’s greenways, making particular use of new technologies. Research will be carried out into the 22 existing greenways in Andalusia (which have a total length of 425 km and represent 22% of the state's disused railway lines) and the 1,000 km of railway lines that remain unused. Ultimately, the project seeks to promote sustainable mobility by the public, taking advantage of new technologies.

Keep up to date with the initiative’s progress on Facebook and Twitter:

Murcia’s Northwest Greenway hosts its first night-time marathon!

This exciting 80 km race along the Northwest Greenway will start at Molina de Segura and finish at Caravaca de la Cruz. Up to 1000 runners will take part in the event starting at 21.00 on 7th June with a maximum duration of 18 hours.

The General Director of the Tourism Institute of Murcia, Enrique Ujaldón, said, "This is a special event which aims to boost tourism in Murcia and on the Northwest Greenway, a large artery in the central region."

You may recall that the greenway has a network of hostels and lodgings for "all those who travel to enjoy the attractions of the trail". Collectively called “Alverdes”, in most cases the seven new lodgings reuse old railway station buildings along the route. The project won a European Greenways Award in 2013 in the category of “exemplary initiatives” for transforming the existing buildings and bringing them back into use. 

For further info about the marathon:

For winners of the European Greenways Award 2013 click here 

The mayors of the municipalities through which the Greenway runs; Consortium Managing Director, Juan Soria; The General Director of the Institute of Tourism, Enrique Ujaldón; Director of Physical Activity and Sport, Antonio Penalver; and the President of the Murcia Athletics Federation, Juan Manuel Molina, at the official presentation of the race

A new map of the Plazaola Greenway

For the first time, a single map covering the entire Plazaola Greenway is available to download. Previously, visitors to the greenway had to use two maps: one for the Navarra section and another for the Gipuzkoa stretch as they are located in two different regions. 

The map is the result of collaboration between the local authorities that manage each section, and we congratulate them on the initiative. Hopefully, this example will encourage other greenways running through several provinces or regions to undertake joint initiatives and produce promotional material covering the entire trail, for the benefit of visitors and the promotion and development of the greenway.

Currently, the Plazaola trail is about 45 km long and traverses areas of great natural beauty. However, the greenway is still growing with a new section from Imotz opening shortly and work starting on another 4 km stretch in Mugiro.

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the first trip made on the old Plazaola railway between Pamplona and San Sebastián, and it is 20 years since the creation of the Plazaola Tourist Consortium, set up to develop and promote tourism in the area and to recover the old railway line.

Download the new map 

Vienna to Nantes cycle tour with accompanying local rides

A bike tour from Vienna to Nantes is being organised by the French Association for the Development of Cycle Routes and Greenways (AF3V), supported by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and Nantes Métropole.

Taking place between 30 May and 14 July 2014, the aim of the ride is to promote the EuroVelo network, particularly EuroVelo 6 (EV6) and Velocity 2015 in Nantes, and also to encourage the creation of new greenways and other initiatives associated with them.

There will be 45 daily stages covering 2222 km - the distance from Vienna to Nantes by bike. To adhere to the concept of a comfortable family trip, enabling participants to enjoy the tourist attractions along the route, the length of each stage will be limited to around 50 km.

The great attraction of EV6, along which the cycle tour will take place, is its potential for intermodality; this will allow cyclists to participate in the main ride for a few days or take part in one of the many feeder rides that will be organised by local cycling associations and communities.
Further info...   

Pie de foto

New map of the greenways and cycle routes of Lorraine, North East France

A new map showing the 42 greenways in Lorraine, extending to some 600 km, has been developed by the Lorraine Association for the Development of Cycle Routes and Greenways (AL3V) with the support of the Regional Tourism Committee of Lorraine. Eighty per cent of this greenway network is tarmaced and twenty per cent has a natural surface; 300 km are part of the national cycle route network.

The map also includes 700 km of regional cycle routes, including Véloroute Moselle-Saône (V50), and Véloroute Meuse, along the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and the Canal de la Sarre (EV5). The map not only indicates the managed sections of cycle route (40% on traffic-free greenways and 40% on quiet on-road routes) but also the possible missing links on busy roads where safety is not guaranteed (20% of the marked routes).

The AL3V hopes that the "missing" sections and signage will soon be in place so cyclists can fully discover Lorraine using long distance bike routes.

Further info : 

Great Southern Trail is featured in the Sunday Times cycling supplement 

The Great Southern Trail (GST), as well as the Great Western Trail, were featured in the cycling supplement of the Sunday Times on 23 March 2014, and would like to express their appreciation for the assistance they received to achieve this prominent national coverage. Both greenways were also recognised with a European Greenways Award in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

The GST team hopes to continue the greenway through the next town of Listowel in the near future. Obtaining funding and convincing some opposition about its importance to the county are key to achieving the continued development of the greenway. 

The Great Southern Trail received great coverage in the Sunday Times

A report on the physical inactivity epidemic was presented to the Prime Minister in April

Sustrans takes active travel to the UK parliament

On 8 April this year, a group of UK parliamentarians representing all the major political parties presented a report on the crisis of physical inactivity to the Prime Minister, at Number Ten Downing Street.

The All Party Commission on Physical Activity called for urgent action – including more investment in walking and cycling – to tackle the inactivity epidemic that threatens our children’s futures.

The Commission was set up in 2013, by Sustrans working with Nike and the British Heart Foundation, and three other partners.  It heard evidence – in the Houses of Parliament – from 50 experts on health, sport, transport and urban planning, and education, and received over 150 submissions of written evidence.

The report calls for all the major political parties to back a National Action Plan to increase physical activity.  It recommends the reallocation of transport investment into active travel, and a ‘health check’ on all developments and infrastructure to prioritise walking, cycling and other forms of physical activity.

Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd, welcoming the report, said, “The most effective way of increasing physical activity is to transform our daily journeys to school, work or leisure into active journeys by walking or cycling.”

Physical inactivity is a global health problem.  5.3 million deaths a year are attributed to physical inactivity globally – as many as smoking – and today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
In the UK, inactivity costs the economy £20bn a year and causes 37,000 premature deaths in England alone.

Sustrans and its partners are now campaigning to help parents be more active with their children, through an online community called Move1 -

To find out more about the work of the Commission please visit

European Greenways Observatory

Do you manage a greenway and want to publicise your project to as many users as possible?  Then your information is of great interest to us and we ask you to send in your contribution to help complete this database.

Please visit  or contact
The main objectives of the Association Européenne des Voies Vertes - European Greenways Association - Asociación Europea de Vías Verdes , founded in 1998, are to make an inventory of, promote and encourage infrastructures referred to as greenways
Copyright © 2014 Association Européenne des Voies Vertes - European Greenways Association - Asociación Europea de Vías Verdes 
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