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SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IS COMING INTO SHAPE!

The Polders of Kruibeke in Belgium, The Broads in England and The Biesbosch in The Netherlands cooperate in the development of sustainable tourism in their areas. They call their collaboration STEP: Sustainable Tourism in Estuary Parks.

The first results of the STEP project are coming into shape. The project has been extended for half a year and will now end medio 2013. In this newsletter you will find an overview of the actions in the past half year. Curious about our next STEP? Check the calendar on the STEP website in English (click here) or Dutch (click here).

BROADS OUTDOORS FESTIVAL SET TO BE A SUCCESS

The second Broads Outdoors Festival began on 5th May 2012 with more than 100 events over two weeks to encourage people to get out and about enjoying the area on land and water.

The aim of the festival is to further establish the message that the Broads is Britain's Magical Waterland. This brand was established in an exercise involving the Broads Authority and Broads Tourism businesses funded by the STEP programme.

Over the two weeks of the festival there will be opportunities to try canoeing, go sailing on the oldest wherry on the Broads, take a ride on a Victorian steam launch, explore windmills, go on guided walks, cycle rides and canoe trails.

THE WEALTH OF THE SCHELDT ON SHOW

With its motto "Together you can achieve more", the Agency for Nature and Forests gave the starting signal for putting together a communication plan on the Scheldt estuary this spring. The idea is to showcase the whole Scheldt estuary in a positive light during the 2012-2016 period; not on its own, but together with partners, known as the "Scheldespreekbuizen" (Spokespeople for the Scheldt), who are already busy working on the Scheldt. The suggested communication campaigns will raise awareness of the intrinsic value of biodiversity in the Scheldt region and add impetus to sustainable recreation and tourism in the area. Read more

ADVENTUROUS STAY IN THE BIESBOSCH

Last month the first 'Ecolodge' was launched. An overnight stay in an Ecolodge should give Biesbosch visitors the ultimate Biesbosch feeling. The floating building, designed by Marijn Beije, will soon be transported to the Biesbosch, where it will have a temporary place near Biesboschcentrum Dordrecht. Read more

BROADS PLAN FOR VISITOR GIVING

A pilot Visitor Payback scheme is being planned for the Broads to help raise money for conservation projects. The initiative, called Nurture the Broads, will be managed by the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Charitable Trust.

Money will be collected through a range of channels from simple donation boxes to 'opt out' schemes which encourage visitors to make a voluntary contribution on top of their payment for accommodation or a product. The aim is to raise funds for projects which protect the environment, support education about the environment and develop sustainable tourism.

Six Broads businesses have already signed up and it's hoped the project will be extended as it develops, better connecting both businesses and visitors to this unique landscape.

FLEMISH DESIGN - NOW IN MILAN AND SOON ALONG THE SCHELDT

From 17 to 22 April, the annual international 'Salone del Mobile' was held in Milan. It is the global benchmark for the Home Furnishing Sector. It was also the first time that STEP-partner Waterwegen en Zeekanaal plc was represented at the prestigious exhibition. There, the international trade press had an exclusive look at the future outdoor furniture for the Polders of Kruibeke. In the near future, the first prototypes in Flanders will be seen along the Schelde. Read more

SOLAR POWERED FERRY IN THE BIESBOSCH

To improve the connection between the recreation area Hollandse Biesbosch and the other parts of the national park, a solar powered ferry has been built. In the near future it will transport hikers and bikers from the recreation area to the big ferry which crosses the River Nieuwe Merwede. Besides the STEP subsidy, the ferry could be realised with a contribution from the Province of Noord-Brabant.

Until permissons and facilities are ready, the ferry will regularly go between Biesboschcentrum Dordrecht and the Huiswaard. Here you can take a 5 kilometres walk through a varied Biesbosch area. Dates and times on which the ferry will be going will be found on the STEP website from May 25 onwards. There you can also find more information about a competition for a suitable name for the new ferry.

PARK-APP FOR STEP AREAS

STEP-partner Waterwegen en Zeekanaal plc is responsible for the joint action within the theme of "sustainable visitor management". With an eye on alternative sustainable ways to inform and guide visitors, the STEP partners decided to also look towards modern means of communication such as GPS, GSM, downloadable information, etc. In the quest for sustainable management, loads of information signs, heavy infrastructures and a handful of leaflets might not be the best idea. To this end, La Mosca from Ghent (Belgium) - a publisher of city games - was chosen to create a dynamic, interactive and challenging Park-app for the three STEPareas. With this app, visitors will be able to experience and get fully acquainted with the areas and their exceptional nature, heritage, residents, security, etc. in an informative and playful way. Read more

TOURISTIC TRANSFERIUM (TOP) IN BIESBOSCH

In the Hollandse Biesbosch recreation area a TOP was placed in April 2012. Tourists can park their car to start a walking or cycling trail. Panels give information about what to see and do and there is a map of the area.

You will recognize a TOP from the green grass stalk. You can always reach a TOP easily by car and there is sufficient parking space. There is a restaurant nearby too. There are more than 20 TOPs in the Province of Zuid-Holland already. In the Biesbosch there is a discussion going to align information about the Biesbosch TOP with a comparable concept in the province of Noord-Brabant, called nature Gates, of which possibly two will be placed in the Biesbosch-region.

SUSTAINABLE ENTREPRENEURS IN THE BIESBOSCH

December 2011, 7 entrepreneurs gained a Green Key certificate with help from Parkschap Nationaal Park De Biesbosch. The green Key is a European label for sustainability for tourist-recreational businesses. Hotel De Korenbeurs in Made, Hotel De Watertoren in Dordrecht and Biesboschcentrum Dordrecht got a gold award, Hotel Golden Tulip in Zevenbergen and Team Biesbosch in Hank got silver, and Maia Ligfietsen in Dordrecht and Groene Camping in de Polder in Lage Zwaluwe got bronze.

Parkschap Nationaal Park De Biesbosch helps these entrepreneurs in making their businesses more sustainable. It is the first national park in the Netherlands dealing with becoming more sustainable collectively this way. In 2012 five more entrepreneurs hope to get a Green Key award with help from the Parkschap.

ESTUARY TRIP COMPETITION WINNERS VISIT BIESBOSCH

In 2011 there was a quiz on the website of the 3 STEP partners areas. Participants could win a sustainable weekend to the Biesbosch, the Broads, or the Polders of Kruibeke. The questions in the quiz were about the 3 areas in the STEP-project.

Dave Armitage from Norwich, England, and Lena Belhomme from Sint Niklaas, Belgium, had their weekend in the Biesbosch from 20 to 22 April 2012. You can read their reports here, (Dave) en (Lena). If you have not done the quiz yet, you can try here. However, the competition is now closed and no more prizes will be awarded.

WORKSHOP COMMUNICATION ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY

On the 14th of February a workshop on this theme took place in the Biesbosch. Around 40 people from the 3 STEP areas with varied backgrounds (including tourist agencies, employees, volunteers and entrepreneurs) participated. You can find the presentations and reports here. The STEP partners will discuss how to implement the results of the workshop during their meeting in June.

Disclaimer: The document reflects the author's views. The INTERREG IVA 2 Seas Programme Authorities are not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

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