Increasing senior tourism on greenways in the low and medium seasons - 2nd Eurovelo, Greenways and Cycle Tourism conference - Events in France, Poland, St Petersburg - News from members in France, Latvia, the UK, Spain - New EGWA members

Greenways are an excellent resource for active tourism all year round 

EGWA and ECF joint conference represents a great opportunity to promote cycle tourism

Increasing senior tourism in the low and medium seasons

Another successful Eurovelo, Greenways and Cycle Tourism conference

During 2014, EGWA’s Director worked with the expert group supporting the European Commission Tourism Directorate to prepare the report Facilitating cooperation mechanisms to increase senior tourists’ travel within Europe and from non-EU countries in the low and medium seasons and Annex 1 "Demographic change and the rise of senior tourists" that is gathering information on the senior tourism market. Its objective is to provide recommendations for strategic initiatives, identifying the role that different parties might play in their implementation.

The report includes explicit references to greenways, the popularity of cycle tourism, and the necessity of intermodality and accessibility, topics that are all very important for EGWA and emphasized by the Association during the expert group work.
Following the recommendations of the aforementioned report, the Commission will continue working on an Action Plan to develop different initiatives to encourage age-friendly tourism. The general objective is to facilitate cooperation mechanisms to extend the tourism season and to boost economic growth and job creation, particularly for SMEs in the tourism industry. To this end, the Commission envisages initiatives to stimulate low and medium season transnational tourism flows for strategic population segments towards age-friendly tourism, adapting provision to the needs of elderly travellers.
The work to implement this action plan will continue during 2015-16 and EGWA will participate in various working groups to support this. We will provide information and proposals to help achieve the general objectives through the promotion of greenways as excellent resources for all types of users, but emphasizing their suitability for "seniors”, and through the expansion of greenway tourism in the low and medium seasons.
Seasonality does occur on greenways even though they are an ideal resource to be used all year round; moreover senior tourists (+55) are an important market. Thus, extending the season and the number of senior users would help to maintain and generate employment and improve business and the local economy.
We hope that this initiative will have a direct impact on greenways, attracting more visitors to these excellent safe, traffic-free and accessible routes throughout Europe.

In September, over 100 people from 28 countries attended the 2nd Eurovelo, Greenways and Cycle Tourism conference held in Basel, Switzerland. It was jointly organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the European Greenways Association (EGWA) as part of the Outbound Capitalisation conference of the Demarrage – EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Route Project.
The first session focused on how cycle tourism fits into the current EU political and economic agenda, with an overview of the financial opportunities in the new funding period (2014-2020) relating to Tourism (the COSME programme in particular) and Territorial Cooperation projects (INTERREG); in both areas it will be possible to include cycling projects in different ways.
As this was the final conference of the “Demarrage” initiative, there was a presentation on the main and transferable outputs of this successful project. Joint marketing, a joint website in four languages (, corporate design and signposting, as well as strong partnerships and transnational engagement in the service sector, are all positive results of this inspiring project, as is the long term management strategy developed to ensure that the final outputs are sustainable after the EU co-financing comes to an end.
Long term management and financing were the subject of another session that presented practical examples of the benefits of well developed monitoring processes; the message was clear about the necessity of setting up systematic surveys and studies to measure the success of investments as this is key to obtaining further funds to provide continuity in policy and for implementing new projects.  
Under the topic ‘What products and what routes for cyclists?’, successful examples of cycle tourism products were presented from across Europe. This session was a good opportunity to promote examples linked to the EU-funded Greenways Product project which aims to develop tourism products based on greenways in Europe and involve SMEs in order to boost the local economy.
It was clear that the successful cycle tourism products highlighted at the conference are promoted and advertised properly, showing the importance of marketing and the use of new technologies to communicate a greenway’s existence and attractiveness; the importance of knowing the market to which you present your product and tailoring it accordingly to attract clients was also apparent.


Conference delegates enjoy riding through the cycle-friendly city of Basel

The Demarrage: an inspiring cycle
tourism project

The four-year, cross-border Demarrage cycle tourism project has been co-financed by Northwest Europe INTERREG IV B. The outcomes and lessons learnt from it will be of great help to other cycling- and tourism-related projects awaiting EU financial support within the next funding period. And the examples presented at the conference act as excellent reference points to inspire new projects involving EuroVelo, greenways, cycling and tourism in various ways.

This bi-annual EGWA and ECF joint conference represents a great opportunity to promote good practices and to continue developing cycle tourism. The conference was followed by other cycling-related activities during the weekend that allowed participants to test the European Certification Standard (ECS) for long-distance cycle routes along EuroVelo15, and learn about cycling infrastructure in the beautiful and cycle-friendly city of Basel with city authorities.
All the presentations can be downloaded here 

EGWA represented at 18th annual conference of DRC 

In September, EGWA was invited to attend the 18th annual conference of the French Departments and Regions’ Cycling Association (DRC) where it had a stand. 

EGWA’s President and Director participated in the event, seizing the occasion to promote recent EGWA initiatives and the EU-funded project, Greenways Product. The main aim of the latter is to gain recognition for greenways not just as a tourism “resource” but as a “product” to really generate a positive economic impact where these attractive, traffic-free routes exist.
The conference also provided an excellent opportunity to hear about recent cycle route and greenway developments in France, to strengthen co-operation with French advocates of greenways, and to contribute to the exchange of good practices.

Mercedes Muñoz and Gilbert Perrin at the EGWA stand in Lille

The conference in Lublin, Poland, attracted 150 participants eager to hear about best practice in greenway development

Greenway-based tourism product of interest in Poland 

In October, EGWA Director Mercedes Muñoz was key speaker at the international conference on The Development of entrepreneurship in rural areas on the basis of integrated tourism products – Greenways that was held in Lublin, Poland. The conference was attended by some 150 people from local and national government, SMEs and NGOs from around the country.

Mercedes described the greenway concept and the wide network of routes that already exists in Europe. She also explained the existing methodology to create greenway-based tourism packages that has been developed within the framework of the Greenways Product project. She emphasised the need for local involvement: public and private partnerships and the involvement of SMEs to provide the quality and customised services that tourists demand. In summary, she strongly encouraged attendees to promote greenways in Poland and create tourism products around them as they are a most effective tool for attracting tourists and can also be used by local people.

Raitis Sijāts, from the Vidzeme Tourism Association in Latvia, an EGWA member, gave a presentation on the development of greenways in Latvia as an example of good-practice, while Daniel Moureck, from the Nadece Partnership in the Czech Republic, also an EGWA member, described the importance of greenways to Czech tourism. Together they provided a wide overview of key topics and best practices in greenway development that it would be useful to replicate in Poland.
The event was part of current work to develop and promote a greenway network in the Lublin area of Poland and was followed by a site visit. Further fact-finding visits were made to well-known greenways in Spain and the UK after the conference.

Greenways well received at a high-level conference in St Petersburg

In October, EGWA President, Gilbert Perrin, and Director, Mercedes Muñoz, participated in three different round tables at the Green Day Forum in St Petersburg in the Framework of The XIII All-Russian Forum: “Strategic Planning in the Regions and Cities of Russia”. This Forum focuses on promoting values for sustainable development and brings together Nordic and Russian partners as well as OECD representatives and other strategic partners.

The event was an opportunity for EGWA to present greenways as excellent tools for sustainable mobility and rural development, since these accessible and safe traffic-free routes facilitate everyday travel (to work, school, shops) and leisure journeys on foot and by bike. Furthermore, they are an excellent tool for sustainable tourism, rural development and local employment creation. This is why greenways are being widely developed in Europe and why EGWA’s presentations were very well received by other partners at the table such as OECD officials and participants from public administrations and NGOs.
In addition, EGWA Director, Mercedes Muñoz, and Raitis Sijas, Chairman of the new Latvian Greenways Association, gave a presentation on greenways at the closing conference of the Hanseatic Route project, a successful EU-funded initiative through an Estonia-Latvia-Russia Cross Border Cooperation Programme within the Neighborhood and Partnership Programme.
Greenways were very well received at events to establish partnerships and discuss greenway project ideas in the Baltic Sea area for the new EU funding period. With promising ideas and real interest from stakeholders, we envisage some fruitful partnerships to develop greenways in the Baltic Sea area in the coming financial period.

EGWA participation in the St Petersburg events provided a great opportunity to promote greenways in Baltic countries

First national study on bike use in France 

In November, the French Departments and Regions’ Cycling Association (DRC), facilitator of cycling mobility, unveiled the first national study of usage on major French cycling routes. This publication is the starting point for monitoring bike use at a national level. The results confirm strong usage for leisure and tourism purposes in peri-urban, rural and coastal environments and variable use for utility and recreational or tourism purposes in urban environments.

The main results:
  • Strong seasonal usage at national level: 53% of journeys take place in summer; 21% are on Sunday; a sharp increase in trips is recorded during the holidays and public holidays. This indicates the strong representation of leisure and tourism trips among the recorded journeys (page 12-13 of the report).
  • The location of the counter is correlated with the type of practice: Peri-urban and rural counters are more affected by season and the day of the week than urban counters; utility usage is greater in urban than suburban and rural areas. Analysis of the hourly distribution of trips related to the environment particularly illustrates this fact (see page 19 of the report).  
  • The route analysis confirmed the specificity of the coastal environment: EuroVelo 1/Vélodyssée displays strong particularities compared to the other analysed routes: it’s highly seasonal with a particularly significant usage peak in August.  The profiles of the timetable analysis of the route confirm the specificity of the coastal environment (see page 23 of the report).  
Download the DRC Report : “Analyse des données de fréquentation 2013” 

MEP visits Latvia’s Mazirbe to Sīkrags Greenway

In August, Michael Cramer, the newly-elected Chair of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism committee, made a five-day visit to Latvia during which he cycled the new Mazirbe to Sīkrags Greenway in the west of the country. At a meeting with the Mayor of Mazirbe and local inhabitants, he emphasised the role and long-term economic benefits of cycle tourism which were received with great interest.

The Mazirbe to Sīkrags Greenway is the first one to be built in Latvia as a part of the EU Green Belt project which aims to build on the extraordinary habitat protection afforded by the former Iron Curtain and promote trans-boundary co-operation to create a pan-European ecological network. The greenway has also been included on the new Latvian Greenways map which will be available in print for the upcoming tourism trade fair season.

Video including Mr Cramer on the Mazirbe to Sikrags Greenway  
Latvian Greenways map

Michael Cramer visits the new Mazirbe to Sīkrags Greenway

Cyclists enjoy the new greenway at the official opening  

Latvia’s Limbaži to Katvari Greenway is completed

On World Tourism Day in September, the new Limbaži to Katvari Greenway was officially opened. The seven-km route connects the Hanseatic town of Limbaži with beautiful Lake Katvari nearby. The greenway was developed thanks to EU funding, and the work involved removing railway sleepers and improving the surface of the route to make it suitable for cyclists, hikers and also skiers in winter. The new greenway connects with existing trail sections previously improved through local initiatives.

The opening event was included in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) listings of celebrations for World Tourism Day, and the greenway has been added to the latest Latvian Greenways map.
There are plans to extend the Limbaži to Katvari route further and develop another greenway from Limbaži to Skulte, in the direction of Saulkrasti. This would involve upgrading around 32 km of disused track as about 10 km can already be used.

A spectacular new route opens around Devon’s Exe Estuary

The Exe Estuary Trail, one of Devon’s flagship cycle routes, has recently been completed after many years of work by Devon County Council. The predominantly traffic-free, 16-mile network now links Exmouth to Dawlish Warren, via Topsham and Exeter, giving stunning views of the Exe Estuary.

The remaining £1.6 million section of the trail from Turf Lock to Powderham was finished this autumn, meaning this exciting extension to National Route 2 can be enjoyed in its entirety for the first time. As a result of the latest work, trail users are taken on a three metre-wide greenway and newly constructed bridge near Powderham.

The completion of the Exe Estuary Trail allows walkers and cyclists to better appreciate the diverse wildlife and internationally important habitats to be found in the area and pass through some beautiful riverside towns and villages steeped in maritime history.

EGWA member, Sustrans, has worked in collaboration with Devon County Council on the development of the National Cycle Network (NCN) over many years, and long supported its efforts to complete the Exe Estuary Trail. It has worked directly with the council on parts of the trail such as the bridge at Topsham, and is currently helping with improvements for cyclists around Exmouth Station.

Martyn Brunt, Sustrans NCN Development Manager, said, “It’s absolutely fantastic to see Devon County Council complete this really wonderful trail.” 

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said, “The opening of the full route of the Exe Estuary Trail is great news and a fantastic achievement. It has been an ambitious project but well worth it. The route provides a spectacular showcase of the excellent cycling opportunities on offer in Devon, and it is one of the best ways to take in the Exe Estuary.“

The new walking and cycling bridge at Powderham on the Exe Estuary Trail 

Greenways strengthen the local economy

The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment unveils "Study on the economic and social impacts associated with the Natural Ways" programme in Spain 

In September, The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Isabel García Tejerina, presented the conclusions of the "Study on the economic and social impacts associated with the Natural Ways" programme during a workshop held at the Ministry.

She recalled that, since 1993, the Environment Ministry has developed more than 8,700 km of nature trails under the “Natural Ways” programme, of which 1,200 km are greenways as they have been built over former  railway lines. This constitutes 57% of the total Spanish greenways network that currently extends to 2,100 km, distributed between 108 greenways throughout Spain.

In this study (available online from the Ministry website), it is estimated these Natural Ways receive about 30 million visits annually, representing almost 20% of total visits generated by hiking and recreational rural cycling in the whole of Spain.

Spain’s Plazaola Greenway welcomes Polish visitors 

More than 30 people from the Lublin region in eastern Poland visited the Plazaola Greenway on a fact-finding trip. The visitors included representatives from local action groups, visitor centres, local authorities, the Ministry of Agriculture and state media.

Members of the Plazaola Consortium received their Polish guests at their headquarters at Lekunberri Plazaola station where the team presented their work on the greenway over the last 20 years and showed the services on offer in the immediate vicinity: the tourist office, the craft store, the Plazaola exhibition, adapted bikes, the children’s fun learning centre in a restored railway wagon, Kantina (a traditional coffee shop) and bike rental.

Later they visited other places of interest near the greenway such as the Mendukilo caves, a natural tourist attraction, the artisan cheese factory, Bikain, the cosy Hotel Ayestarán where they ate and finally the traditional country-house B&B, Azpikoetxea de Etxarri Larraun.

The Polish team is developing a similar project in the Lublin region called the "Heritage of the East" greenway. In the framework of this project, they recently organized an international greenway conference (see article above) as well as visits to some very well established greenways such as this example in Navarra. EGWA helped to put the two parties in contact and make the visit possible.

The Polish visitors were keen to hear about the development and promotion of the Plazaola Greenway

Enlarging EGWA's membership to promote greenways all round Europe

New EGWA members

We would like to extend the warmest welcome to new EGWA members:

- Asociatia pentru Dezvolarea Turismului de Sanatate si Social (Association for the Development of Social & Wellness Tourism), from Romania, and 

- Rogaland fylkeskommune (Rogaland County Council), from Norway

New President for the AF3V 

Francis Mons Brive-la-Gaillarde, President of the "The Limousin by bike” Association, is the new President of The French Association for the Promotion of Cycle Routes and Greenways (AF3V), an EGWA member. He follows Eric Brouwer who has become Secretary. Damien Chapon, as Treasurer, completes the three-member steering committee which is supported by eleven directors, seven of whom are in charge of a delegation.

AF3V priorities in 2015 include: user input ito the development of cycle routes and greenways, the rallying of the network of 80 associations, the description of cycle routes and greenways on the website and the reissue of a guide. A method of grading these routes is being developed.

Congratulations and best wishes to the new president and steering committee of the AF3V and good luck with your work.
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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