VTA hosts workshops on visitor information and cycling for tourists
The thematic workshop on good practices related to ‘visitor information’ and ‘cycling for tourists’ refers to study visits at five tourism information centres that took place on 9 - 10 September 2013, in Vidzeme region, Latvia, hosted by the project partner Vidzeme Tourism Association, Latvia. 37 participants came together in order to exchange experiences on these topics related to good practices particularly on tourism destinations among project partners.
The first workshop day on Monday 9th September, was dedicated to ‘visitor information’. It started with Mr. Armands Slokenbergs welcome – Director of Latvian Tourism Development Agency, Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia, Mr.Raitis Sijats - Chairman of Vidzeme Tourism Association (VTA) and Mr.Kostas Papamarkakis - Chairman of Municipal Council of South Pelion, Greece (project lead partner). After the welcome addresses, the representatives of the Vidzeme region municipalities - members of Vidzeme Tourism Association introduced their counties and cultural assets.
The Project Coordinator Mr. Manos Vougioukas, introduced to the CHARTS project participants, the objectives, approach, actions and achievements and results to date, as well as the forthcoming events till the project’s completion in 2014. (Presentation available here!)
On behalf of CHARTS Management and Coordination Unit (MCU), Ms. Ieva Treija – project Communication Manager and VTA Public Relation Specialist of project introduced the ‘visitor information’ within the project framework from a theoretical point of view. (Presentation available here!)
Mrs. Inese Sirava, representative of Latvian Tourism Development Agency, demonstrated collaboration models in the field of information with the regions, associations and tourism information centres (TIC) at national and regional level with statistical data on visitor journeys. She outlined that the main sources visitors get information about tourism opportunities in Latvia are the internet, recommendations from friends / word of mouth, previous visits and guide books. (Presentation available here!)
R.Sijats introduced cooperation models in the field of information at regional level with local authorities, including TICs and demonstrated experience on information dissemination to visitors through local seminars, local and international tourism exhibition, printed materials, multimedia, new media as well as using latest technologies – including mobile applications. (Presentation available here!)
Mrs. Ilze Millere – Director of Limbazi TIC and Ms.Venta Pastare, representative of Carnikava TIC outlined the daily duties at TIC in Vidzeme and EU projects by collaboration with VTA. They demonstrated Vidzeme Coastal Cluster – a mutual agreement for tourism development between five coastal Municipalities of Vidzeme region (Aloja, Carnikava, Limbazi, Salacgriva and Saulkrasti municipalities) and the Environmental Protection Authority for tourism development. (Presentation available here!)
Mrs. Aiva Rozenberga – Head of European Cultural Capital ‘Foundation Riga 2014’ was invited particularly for this event. She shared experience and outlined challenges on information dissemination on the cultural activities related to the cultural programme in the framework of „European Cultural Capital: Riga 2014”. (Presentation available here!)
Vastra Gotaland Region Authority (Sweden) demonstrated experiences on Visitor information with Västarvet, the largest organisation for natural and cultural heritage in Sweden and West Sweden Tourist Board, owned by the West Swedish Region. She outlined that this collaboration is based on common strategy: continously product development, coordinated advertising, press strategy and effective media relations, brand development and brand book, efficient and optimized websites and focus on strategic partners. (Presentation available here!)
Mallorca Council (Spain) presented experiences on visitor information by ‘Dry Stone Route (GR-221) and expressed their needs on promotion of information dissemination. (Presentation available here!)
Greek National Tourism Organisation (Greece) demonstrated ‘Visit Greece’ approaches on visitor information in the digital era. The representative outlined traditional content marketing and traditional visitor information “tools” and demonstrated how new technologies are changing visitor`s information by web content marketing including applications, e-newsletters, social media and blogs. (Presentation available here!)
A.Slokenbergs demonstrated a mobile application ‘Latvia.Travel’ which was set-up to provide travellers with up-to-date information on Visitor Information Centres, attractions, activities, accommodation and catering facilities in the light way of the development of modern technology. (Presentation available here!)
ECTN gave a point of view from an expert’s side on visitor information centre as a model of the 20th Century and the ideal 21st century visitor information centre. Mrs. C.Boersma outlined that drivers of information centres changes are technology, plural and instant sources of information, quality and trends, demand for experiences, 24/7 access, falling public sector budgets, reducing number of full-service TICs and reducing market demand. (Presentation available here!)
Mrs. Marija Markule, Student of Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences demonstrated virtual ’Vidzeme Cultural Game’ as a good example of information dissemination to tourists in order to inform visitors about cultural tourism destinations and cultural objects in it. She stressed that this interactive game can be used as an example to develop similar games for Europe or different regions and coutries providing sustainability. The game is based on 11 different stages including its counties representative cultural features in every stage. The game consists of a puzzle, Q&A, memory, finding object, drag & drop tasks, crossword and photo recognation. (Presentation available here!)
The workshop was closed with an open discussion on mobile information and information centres in groups, followed by conclusions of discussions and closing remarks.
The next day, Tuesday 10 September, was dedicated to ‘cycling for tourists’ for destinations as sustainable and environmental friendly tourism by cycling schemes and roads including objects of cultural tourism and leisure facilities (horse riding, hiking, etc.).
It started with VTA exchange of experience on cycling in EU, Latvia and Vidzeme region by R.Sijats. He gave the brief history on development of cycling routs in Vidzeme region and detailed the implementation of cycling routes at national, regional and local level. He outlined routes, within the framework of the established cycling schemes and their infrastructure, the evaluation criteria and benefits of the Project Tour de LatEst (2009-2010) and Iron Curtain Trail 13 (North section) 2011- 2012 for promotion of cycling tourism in the European Union as means of sustainable tourism development. (Presentation available here!)
The workshop continued with the experience of Sigulda Tourism Development Agency (Latvia). Mrs. Dana Spulle presented cycling at Gauja National Park and Sigulda city and outlined opportunities and threats. (Presentation available here!)
The Seminar closed with an open discussion on cycling tourism in partner regions, needs and requrements from representatives of Pafos region in order to develop sustainabe and enviromentaly friendly tourism through cycling.
The rest of the last day was devoted to study visits on ‘visitor information’ and ‘cycling for tourists’.
The eight guided Study visits were: Cesis TIC, Sigulda TIC, Turaida TIC, Saulkrasti TIC, Limbazi TIC, Turaida Museum Reserve, Cycling museum in Saulkrasti and Silver Museum in Limbazi. Participants had the opportunity to take a cycling tour in Saulkrasti city and participated in the medieval programme at the Castle in Cesis.
The partners renewed their appointment for the next project event to be held in Pafos, Cyprus on good practice ‘place marketing’ for cultural tourism destinations on 24 – 26 October. The event will be followed by the International Conference ‘Cultural Tourism in the Experience Economy’ on 25th October in Pafos.
In total, nine project partners were represented: Municipality of South Pelion - Greece, Consell de Mallorca - Spain, Pafos Regional Board of Tourism – Cyprus, Greek National Tourism Organisation – Greece, Vastra Gotaland Region – Sweden, Welsh Government CADW – UK, European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) – Belgium, National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism (NIRDT) - Romania together with Vidzeme Tourism Association – Latvia.
Information prepared by
project CHARTS PR specialist