On 10-11 May 25 representatives from the municipalities, tourism information centers and national and regional parks of Lithuania took part in a two-days experience exhange visit in Kurzeme.

On the first day the participants visited the Liepāja Society of the Blind, which chairman Māris Ceirulis told the participants about the functions of the Society, services provided and activities carried out so far for the improvement of the accesibility at the city, particularly for the blind. Guided by Māris Ceirulis, the participants visited the city, by analysing the adaptations made – road surface guidelines installed, information stands in Braille script, tactile maps, stop lights, marking, the work carried out on the adaptation of public transport, educational institutions, resting areas etc. The participants also visited the rehabilitation center “Soul Refreshment Garden” (Dvēseles veldzes dārzs) in Ziemupe, established by the Society, to learn about how it is operating, it’s financing sources, rehabilitation services provided and the three nature trails constructed in the territory of the center specifically for the blind. Guided by the representative of the Pāvilosta Tourism Information Center Anta Lībiete, the participants visited the beach trail in Pāvilosta, that is available for people with disabilities with an assistant.

On the second day the participants met with the Roja Tourism Information Center representatives and, guided by it’s head Kristīne Voldemāre, visited the newly built wooden trail on Roja beach, which has been constructed under the UniGreen project. The participants acknowledged the quality of the trail and it’s accessibility to people in wheelchairs, together with the resting areas and the toilets along the trail, all accessible to people in wheelchairs. In addition, the participants acknowledged the tactile information stand installed on the trail, which provides information also in the Braille script for the blind and allows to feel the beach trail directions on the map. During the visit to Laumu nature park, the participants met with the owner of the park Roberts Riekstiņš, who shared his experience in creating and the maintanance of the park from an entrepreneur’s point of view. The representative of Talsi Tourism Information Center Līva Dāvidsone acquainted the participants with the products and services created by the tourism center for the development of tourism in Talsi county. “Talsi VAU” brand was acknowledged as a particularly innovative product, which not only associates oneself with the dog language, but also the English interjection “wow”. The aim of the brand “Talsi VAU”  was to promote the Talsi county as a dog-friendly and their owners’ friendly destination. The visit finished with visiting the Ciecere nature trail in Saldus, where participants had the opportunity to reassure themselves on how important is not just to construct an accessible trail, but also to work and foresee the resources for the maintanance of the trails, as in spite of the fact that Ciecere nature trail had initially been built as accessible, it has become only partly acessible to people with disabilities over the time.

The participants stated that the visit was indeed useful, since it gave an opportunity to hold discussions with accessibility experts, representatives of the business sector and tourism information centers, as well as experience themselves the work carried out in Kurzeme on the accessibility of nature tourism.
The experience exchange visit has been organised with the support of the Interreg Latvia – Lithuania Programme.

Information prepared by:
Alise Lūse
UniGreen Project Manager
Kurzeme Planning Region
Tel.: + 371 26567874, alise.luse@kurzemesregions.lv