During the Interreg MED Urban Transport community’s workshop in Brussels, Thomas Guillot, NECSTouR project officer, presented our good practices from Rethymno, Hamburg and Barcelona on “Mobility challenges and opportunities for Tourist Destinations”.
NECSTouR was invited on behalf of the partnership of the Sustainable Tourism community, Urban Transport's closest horizontal project, with a long history of collaborations between the two communities. With the ecological transformation needed in the coming years and the steady democratisation of tourism in Europe, it’s easy to see why transport and tourism are always together, even in the European Parliament. Almost two years ago, NECSTouR moderated the first joint webinar between the two communities on Smart and Sustainable Mobility Measures. There was also an online event during the European week of Regions and Cities 2020. A close collaboration culminating with a common learning program in the framework in the Interreg Euro-Med Academy on "Sustainable Tourism and Mobility for the Mediterranean", starting on June 6 (registration is open). UTC final event will be organised in Athens on October 25.
You can read the full report of the event on the Polis network website.
CIVITAS DESTINATIONS and INCIRCLE (Rethymno)
NECSTouR have a working group on Tourism Mobility created after the success of our mission in the project CIVITAS Destinations, funded through Horizon 2020.
In Greece, Rethymno, member of the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project, is the first Greek city to have electric mini-buses. The city aspires to promote electric mobility in combination with Renewable Energy Sources, via a pilot installation of photovoltaic shelters and charging stations for electric cars, bicycles and scooters in two important parking areas of the city.
Those ideas and activities live on in the INCIRCLE project, one of the modular projects in the INTERREG MED Sustainable Tourism community, and will be showcased during the INCIRCLE final event held in Barcelona on June 7th.
The Elbe Cycle Paths (Hamburg)
The week before the workshop, NECSTouR was in the Hamburg Metropole Region for the seminar of Interreg Europe STAR Cities where we discovered part of the Elbe Cycle Route, a 1300km route connecting Hamburg to Czechia to Germany along the river Elbe through Germany. Their joint goal is to improve the infrastructure along the cycle route and attract more cyclists, not only along the river but also to the hinterland.
Currently, the segment of the cycle route along the Elbe is under threat by climate change: The dykes along the Elbe between Hamburg and the North Sea have to be built higher in order to protect the land, mostly lying below sea-level. The cycle route will have to be moved and rebuilt in many places and room for touristic mobility will become even more under pressure than it is now. Luckily, all dams need a small road alongside for the vehicle to access any breach quickly and without other big vehicles on it. So, what the tourism officer asked was not to build roads but just to adapt construction of those dams to couple it with the most extensive network of bike paths in the region.
Like Josep Canals, Secretary-General of MedCities, said at the beginning of the workshop, this is a tangible example on how tourism infrastructure is directly affected but can also contribute to fight climate change.
To identify those good practices of the tourism sector, especially in our regions, NECSTouR is designing its Climate Action Plan, following the signature of The Glasgow Declaration. Our Plan will support and promote the contribution of Europe’s regions to a greener recovery. Stay tuned for our next General Assembly in Denmark (May 31-June 1) where we’ll organise a workshop with our members on the subject.
BLUE WAYS (Barcelona)
Blue Ways, another good practice identified in the framework of Star Cities, this time launched by the Diputacio de Barcelona, the lead partner of our community and a NECSTouR member.
Blue Ways (Vies Blaves in Catalan) is a project aiming to convert almost 300 km for bikers and hikers along the three main rivers of the province of Barcelona. In 2022, They learned the project will be partially financed by Next Generation EU (€4.5 million for infrastructures).
To encourage our regions located on the MED area, NECSTouR and STC will soon release a Handbook on how to funds tourism through EU funds in the MED area, especially through ERDF and the recovery funds. It will be presented during the MED Sustainable Tourism convention in Barcelona, June 8 and 9.
Challenges and Opportunities
Challenges remain the same as before: providing good transport for travellers while maintaining good quality of life for residents. As regional tourism authorities, our members have the responsibility to include mobility in their sustainable tourism strategies.
But opportunities are more diverse now. Mobility is one of the sectors targeted by both the EU Green Deal (“Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility”) and the Digital Age, which identifies transport and mobility among the sectors that will reach carbon-neutrality using digital technologies. Like Piotr Rapacz, Urban Mobility Team Leader at DG MOVE said, “EU Fundings will be better aligned with EU policies”. Fundings are expanding on both tourism and mobility and as devastating as the pandemic was to the sector it also created a lot of new behaviours.