Thanks to nature diversity, landscapes, clean and safe environment, the border regions of Latvia and Lithuania inhere good potential for the development of nature toursim. In order to use it for fostering the development of border regions, including the development of entrepreneurship, this year in May the Kurzeme Planning Region in Latvia in cooperation with seven municipalities from Kurzeme region and Lithuania and three national and regional parks of Lithuania has commenced a project for the development of sustainable tourism in the border regions of Latvia and Lithuania to increase the number of visitors and overnight stays in regions.

Over the 2 years’ project implementation period in Kurzeme and the border regions of Lithuania it is foreseen to build 7 walking trails equipped with various edutainment elements, 2 resting areas, 2 playgrounds and an adventure park for children, 2 watching towers, 2 viewing platforms and 7 pontoon piers, develop more than 40 nature trail maps, a walking trails’ image guide, install audio solutions at 10 nature objects adapted for people with eyesight problems, organise the training of environmental guides in Latvia and Lithuania, as well as carry out other activities for the development of nature tourism and facilitation of the accessibility of nature objects.

The nature tourism, together with enjoying the nature sights, is generally associated with an active lifestyle – walking, climbing, cycling, boating etc. For this purpose the nature trails are being constructed together with carrying out various other teritorial improvement works, which mostly aim at providing an overall access to nature objects for the active travellers, often forgetting of people with disabilities. As a result there is a limited access to nature objects for this part of society. The tourism industry nowadays faces the challange of how to adapt the nature tourism to people with disabilities and how to encourage this part of society to join the nature tourism activities. Thus it has to be highlighted that a significant part of project activities is dedicated to adapt the infrastructure of nature objects and tourism products to people with disabilities and to encourage them to take part in nature tourism activities.

There are two key components foreseen in the project – infrastructure development activities of nature objects (building, reconstruction, improvement) and competence raising and marketing activities (the training of environmental guides and tourism specialists, organisation of seminars and conferences on adapting the infrastructure of nature objects and tourism products to people with disabilities, marketing activities to disseminate information on nature tourism possibilities both, to local and foreign travellers, i.a. people with disabilities).

Under the infrastructure development activities, in Kurzeme, already this year it has been envisaged to reconstruct the walking trail and prolong it along the seaside in Roja county, to build a trail along Usma lake in Ventspils county, a watching tower near Sātiņi ponds in Saldus county, commence the building of the walking trail along Venta river in Skrunda and Kuldīga, as well as start preparations for the improvement of tourism infrastructure near Durbe lake. Under the infrastructure development activities, in Lithuania, this year it has been foreseen to carry out the improvement works at Jaurykla park in Kretinga, start the renovation of the viewing platform near Plateliai lake at Žemaitija National Park, as well as start preparations for the building of pontoon piers at Aukštaitija National Park and improvement of tourism infrastructure to facilitate the accessibility for visitors in Kirkilai karstic lakes at Biržai Regional Park. Most of the infrastructure development activities will be specifically adapted in order to allow the people with disabilities to access the nature objects.

Under the competence raising and marketing  activities, this year it has been envisaged to commence the development of the programme for the training of 25 environmental guides in Latvia (Kurzeme region), organise the experience exchange visit of 25 tourism specialists of Kurzeme region in Lithuania and 30 tourism specialists and project partners of Kurzeme region and Lithuania in Finland, as well as to organise a conference for 50 municipal and nature protected areas tourism specialists, including tourism service providers and infrastructure developers from Latvia and Lithuania, with the aim to launch discussions and attract attention to the challenges of the tourism industry in adapting the infrastructure and services to people with disabilities.

The project No.LLI-010 “Introducing nature tourism for all (UniGreen)” is being carried out with the assistance of the INTERREG Latvia-Lithuania Cooperation Programme 2014-2020. Its overall financing is 1 176 867,14 EUR, i.a. ERAF financing 1 000 337,07 EUR. The project is implemented by Kurzeme Planning Region, six county municipalities in Latvia (Durbe County Municipality, Kuldīga County Municipality, Roja County Municipality, Saldus County Municipality, Skrunda County Municipality and Ventspils County Municipality), one district municipality in Lithuania (the Administration of Kretinga District Municipality) and three national and regional parks in Lithuania (the Directorate of Aukštaitija National Park and Labanoras Regional Park, the Directorate of Biržai Regional Parki and the Directorate of Žemaitija National Park).
More information on the project is available the website of Kurzeme Planning Region: www.kurzemesregions.lv.

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of the description are the sole responsibility of Kurzeme Planning Region and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

The above reflects author’s views and the Managing Authority of Latvia-Lithuania Programme is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained there in.

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