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STEPS are taken!

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 STEP project is already more than halfway. Results of the STEP actions are becoming visible, as shown below. Curious about our next STEP? Check the calendar on the STEP website in English (click here) or Dutch (click here).

Estuary Trip Competion has ended

Visitors to the STEP website and to each partner's websites could participate in a quiz in which their knowledge of the STEP areas was tested. Almost 400 people particpated in the Estuary Trip Competition. Six people (two in each STEP country) won a trip to a STEP area. All trips will be made in April and May 2012. The experiences of the winners while visiting the STEP areas will be published on the STEP website. The English winners got their price on November 7th in Norwich (see picture). The Belgium and Dutch winners will be contacted shortly.

Sustainable Tourism Workshop in the Broads

Business entrepreneurs from the Netherlands and Belgium joined STEP officers for a workshop in the Broads to discuss sustainable tourism. Representatives of Broads Tourism gave presentations on the recently implemented Green Mark accreditation for hire boats and the annual Green Boat Show. Delegates discussed the challenges of communicating about sustainable tourism including the issue of trying to persuade businesses to use sustainable practices when they are not seen as economically beneficial. The International Steering Group also met during the three day visit, and trips were arranged to Broads tourism attractions which adopt sustainable practices.

Tourism and recreation in the Biesbosch

The economic importance of tourism and recreation in the Biesbosch-region was analysed. The total share of the T&R sector in the Biesbosch-area is 3,4%. Compared to the average in the Netherlands (5,9% in 2009) this is quite low. The possibilities for overnight stay are limited. Also the share of the T&R sector in the economy of the region (along with the number of jobs) is slowly decreasing.

Parkschap Nationaal Park De Biesbosch wants to counter this development by working together with businesses to create a strong and sustainable tourist sector.
You can download the full report (in Dutch) here.

Communication about sustainability

How do European national parks communicate about sustainable issues with their visitors? Research among holders of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism shows that most national parks only use traditional ways of telling people about sustainable issues and of influencing their behaviour (e.g. brochures, wardens). The STEP partners are looking for new ways of communication about this issue. A workshop about the theme will be held in the Biesbosch on February 14, 2012. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at info@step-projects.eu. You can download the report here.

Planning for positive results through participation

The fact that more room has to be given to our rivers, means that the public will be more frequently confronted with water-related questions and challenges. In their turn, people will confront water managers with different needs and ideas concerning water management. This will give the ever-changing water issues a new dimension. Evidently the policymakers need to take this into account when making plans and determining the policy.

Participation is in this case often a key word. On behalf of Waterwegen & Zeekanaal NV, a 'Participation Plan' was developed for the Sigmaplan, of which the Polders of Kruibeke are a part. An organizational schedule was created which aims towards multiple spacial and administrative scales, and takes into account the multidisciplinary character of the Sigmaplan. This causes for involvement with a positive result! This should result in a positive outcome with a high level of involvement! You can find the full report in Dutch on this location.

Timecapsule: the recreational theme for the Polders of Kruibeke

One of the many tasks within the big picture of the Access Plan for the Polders of Kruibeke, is the realisation of a distinctive house style for the tourism/recreation infrastructure. This goes beyond simply designing some furniture. Stefan Schoning of Stefan.schoning.studios dug deep into the history of Kruibeke, gathered the present day wishes of local residents and assemblies and looked at the future plans for the area. He mixed all these things together and came up with a strong concept that gives both structure and meaning to the design.

This 'Timecapsule' captures the past, present and future and puts them together into a single house style, using concrete and wood as its main building materials. Take a look at the first results.

Biesbosch Volunteers visit the Polders of Kruibeke

On Saturday, September 17th 2011, guides and volunteers from the Dutch National Park Biesbosch visited the Polders of Kruibeke for their annual excursion. Together with experts and guides from the Belgian side of the border, they exchanged ideas and techniques on how to improve future tourism for tidal parks. Today, these volunteers have already proven themselves to be real ambassadors for the area.


First Green Mark for boats awarded on the Broads

A Broads boat hire company was the first business in the UK to be awarded a new "eco accreditation" for boats as part of a groundbreaking initiative for hire boat operators.

Norfolk Broads Direct of Wroxham received the grading when the Green Tourism Business Scheme launched its Green Mark for holiday cruisers in partnership with the Broads Authority and Broads Tourism.

The award, which has been funded through the STEP programme, is based on 25 criteria specially developed for boats including eco-friendly design, energy efficiency, waste management and providing "green? information for hirers.

Fair Sovereign, the diesel electric hybrid cruiser which won the award, has a low wash hull and its engine meets the current EU Stage 3 emissions requirements. Water is heated as a byproduct of the engine cooling and the majority of lighting is provided by LED bulbs.

Broads Authority is re-awarded European Charter

The Broads Authority has been awarded the prestigious European Charter for Sustainable Tourism for the second time.

The Broads was the first member of the family of English national parks to receive the Charter five years ago and a great deal of work has gone into assuring its renewal.

The Broads Authority came in for special praise for its work in sustainable tourism and for its communication including promoting the new brand for the Broads Britain's Magical Waterland.

Main strengths listed were the Green Tourism Business Scheme, including the new Green Mark initiative for assessing environmentally friendly hire boats, the Broads Quality Charter for restaurants and pubs, quality development of moorings, access for disabled people, conservation management, the cycle and canoe hire network and promoting training in traditional crafts.

Most sustainable visitor centre in Europe

In June 2011 an expert meeting took place in the Biesbosch to develop a set of conditions and requirements for the most sustainable visitor centre in Europe. Remarkable conclusion: this visitor centre is not a building but a framework of sustainability, set in motion by the partners cooperating in the Biesbosch. Therefore you will not find an overview of square meters, use of space, numbers of visitors etc. in the vision book that has been made. With inspiration images focus is on content, innovation, interaction, layout and identity. This book is one of the basis elements for making the existing and new to develope entrances to the Biesbosch more sustainable. You can download an English summary of the vision book here.

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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