In the rural regions of Europe the rural entrepreneurs are trying to deal with the changing situation in the rural areas and they are trying to keep the countryside alive. Besides tourism activities they focus on producing and selling of local/regional and home made products. But the old vision of creating new tourist products does not work. There is necessity to create all kind of innovation in all new. Therefore the key objective of our project was to create and develop a new innovative method of creation of tourist product in combination of non-traditional way of bicycling and walking with exploring countryside products in EDEN destination Kuldiga including original event management. The same time it was a difficult objective, because Kuldiga is a small rural tourist destination with historical and cultural traditions, it has a large number of heritage sites and is included in the National tentative list of UNESCO. We started with the new vision of sustainable development of the EDEN destination Kuldiga, Marketing and Branding plan, following with the large number of activities and EU funded projects.
THE REASON FOR ACTION
In many periphery areas of Europe, in rural destinations, the regional products have great economic potential, especially when they are produced in harmony with the nature and environment and a regional or local identity. The challenge was because there is a trend that (the big cities) consumers are more and more interested in good an healthy tourism possibilities and food which is produced in a sustainable way. They often want to buy it straight from the producer and they want to see were the food is produced and experience country life. Developing and implementing all these activities gives an extra dimension because Western and Eastern European regions did not have close contacts for decades can co-operate together. This gives not only possibilities to exchange knowledge and experience how to develop the production of regional products. Moreover it gives excellent challenges and opportunities to exchange ideas of the best practice and develop the potential new and innovative products but also traditional product, new and traditional food processing methods, homemade products, recipes and other specialities. Often there are a lot of local ideas but what fails is a good local or regional structure co-operation and strategy for production and marketing. Many farmers do not have the selling skills to make their regional product production really profitable and involve it in local network and creative industries.
According the aims of the overall project the main activities were targeted to analyse, identify, develop and implement the potentials of local tourist products and specialities (food and non food) in order to strengthen and diversify the rural economies in the EDEN destination Kuldiga (and Kurzeme Region).
Setting up a research, education and training programme the knowledge and skill on the following subjects:
- Tourism and image research of Kuldiga destination and tourism offer;
- Local food tourism product research of Kuldiga and West Latvia, including historical top-products, traditions, recipes, etc.
- New trends and methods of innovative tourism and marketing
Setting up a team of creators and innovators producing original and non-traditional ideas and projects for sustainable tourism and local development:
- Create a new non-traditional cycling tourism routes, events and festivals, e.g. Kuldiga Cycling festival Day & Night, which must become the most popular in Latvia as well as in Baltic States;
- Create a new innovative tourism actions to attract more sustainable tourists, e.g. National Geo-caching festival, tourist counters, web-cams, wine and alive history tours, local producer fairs, etc.
- Create a new walking tourist routes included audio-guides and the mobile phone applications, etc.
- Create a new tourist attraction sites and areas in Kuldiga, based on sustainable tourism and heritage protection
Developing a marketing activities and material for a number of potential profitable local products in each participating area;
Setting up an exchange programme for a group of local rural entrepreneurs to theother EDEN destinations in Europe on the following subjects:
- innovations in tourism and marketing;
- most popular sustainable tourism products;
- cycling and walking tourism products
- developing new regional products (regional brands) and bringing traditional products back to life;
- new and traditional food processing methods, recipes, regional specialities and making home made products;
The output as a result of the activities of this huge project is depending on the actual situation in each participating area. Project outputs are:
Created a new non-traditional cycling tourism route system, cyclist friendly hotels and cafes, cycling trails, new cycling signs, cycling digital and printed maps, roll-ups, exhibition stands, etc.
Created the new creative tourist events and festivals:
- Kuldiga Cycling festival Day & Night, which is the most popular Cycling event in Latvia as well as in Baltic States
- the Duke Jacobs Fair attracting farmers from all Latvia
- the Flying Fish Art festival;
- the International Summer School of Photography (the most popular Professional Photography workshop in Baltic States)
- Romantic Wine Tour to Kuldiga, which is the first kind of Wine-Route in Baltic States
Created the new innovative tourism actions, e.g. National Geo-caching festival, tourist laser counters, web-cams, etc.
Created a new walking tourist routes, e.g.”Get away, the train’s coming”, “Historical Water Pump Route” and also audio-guides and the mobile phone application, etc.
Created a new tourist sites and attractions:
- Kuldiga Town Garden Park with fountains;
- the Promenade of Aleksupite river;
- Tourist Panoramic Tower over the bridge
Reconstructed Historical attractions in the new face:
- the Wine Cellar of old Kuldiga Castle (A.D.1242)
- the Old Town Square with fountains (A.D.1610)
- the Old red brick bridge of Kuldiga (A.D.1874);
- the Old Town Hall (A.D.1894);
- the Art House Gallery (A.D.1875)
- the Kuldiga History Museum (A.D.1900)
Created the set of a new traditional and local products or specialities with a high economic potential
- the historical Carrot-cake production workshop and tours
- Dip-Dap Runway-bike production Workshop, the only in Latvia;
- the historical pottery (e.g. Branch Jug) production for souvenirs, first in Latvia;
- the implementation of historical meals in Kuldiga Restaurants (e.g. Biguzis, etc.)
Created the new Creative Workshops:
- the Creative Photography White Studio and Professional Photography B&W Lab;
- the Creative Pottery Workshop
- the Artist Studio
- the Glassmaking Studio
- Kuldiga participation in International Tourism Fairs and Exhibitions Vakantiebeurs (Netherlands), ITB(Germany) TUR (Sweden), Matka (Finland), MITT (Moscow), Tourest (Estonia), Adventur (Lithuania), Balttur Latvia)
- International Journalist, Tour-operator and Photographer Famtrips and Tours to Kuldiga (from Japan, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Poland, UK, etc.)
- Creating the new tourist websites and social media networks, tourism movies, etc.
Exchange visits to the 12 following EDEN destinations in Europe:
(Zuid-Limburg(NL), Durbuy(BE), Grotte di Castellana (IT) Corinaldo (IT), Írottkő (HU), Őrség (HU), Soča Valley(SL), Colpa River(SL), Sveti Martin na Muri(HR), Pustara Višnjica (HR), Viljandi (EST) Jurmala (Latvia) andnumber of training sessions in each region or combined sessions/ workshops/ seminars/visits during exchanges.
Since 2007, we started targeted development of Sustainable tourism , the town of Kuldiga was selected as one of the TOP-10 Tourist Destinations of Latvia. The town of Kuldiga, located in the middle of the Baltic States could be a bridge between tourists from Europe and Russia/Scandinavia could contribute for the creation of new tourism network in this Baltic Sea region.
- Framework and Best Practices may be applied to other tourism experiences;
- Successful Integration is all about Community Champions & Cooperation;
- Exchange and network can discover hidden resources & opportunities
- Strategic Planning requires a comprehensive, collective vision and joint actions
Impossible is possible, just do it!