The projects gave fresh impetus for the development of cross-border tourism in the three neighboring regions of Vitebsk, Latgale and Aukštaitija. Thousands of tourists can now discover new tourist routes around major architectural, historical and natural sights of these regions.
“Cathedrals, castles, lush forests, and huge boulders scattered around – all these attractions make up Bella Dvina region around the Daugava River, also known as the Western Dvina. Also, this region includes hundreds of lakes in Vitebsk region and in the marvelous Baltic Country of Lakes that spans through Latgale and Aukštaitija. The region has the potential for attracting tourists from all over Europe through creating facilities for their comfortable holidays,” – Ivan Shchadranok, Project Coordinator in Belarus, Head of Interakcia Foundation.
IMPORTANCE OF THE PROJECT
Historical interconnectedness and common traditions – from culinary to architectural ones – make the scenic region around the Daugava River an enticing travel destination shared by Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Nevertheless, before the launch of Bella Dvina project these neighboring countries had not put serious efforts into creating and promoting common travel products. Furthermore, the border regions of the three countries had not developed an infrastructure indispensable for a good vacation, such as new tourist centers, diverse tourist routes, well-equipped beaches along the rivers and lakes.
The EURODISTRICT PAMINA on the French-German border became a source of inspiration for the first “chapter” of Bella Dvina. Since the 1960s, this region has been demonstrating an important European example of trans-border cooperation in a range of fields, including tourism, and of mutual trust. Not surprisingly, the experts working in the EURODISTRICT PAMINA were invited to take part in the preparation of Bella Dvina project: they provided counseling at that stage of project.
Initially, the creation of common tourist routes only in Belarus and Latvia, along the banks of Daugava River and the adjacent lakes, was at stake. Therefore, the project was named Bella Dvina where Bella is made from the first syllables of Belarus and Latvia.
“As a person working in the tourism industry, I can now offer to our clients new ways they can enjoy natural beauties in Latvia, Lithuania, and, of course, Belarus. Most importantly, thanks to the very diverse tourist routes developed during Bella Dvina and Bella Dvina 2 projects, our clients can choose between more relaxed, familial ways to spend their holidays, such as living in a farmstead on riverbanks, and more extreme adventures, such as kayaking along the Western Dvina. As a result, we have been observing the rising numbers of tourists who wish to visit Bella Dvina region”, – Oksana Kozel, Head of the travel agency 7 Dorog (lit. 7 Ways).
The success of the first part of Bella Dvina made it possible to continue the project in 2012. This time, Lithuania joined the initiative, specifically, the region of Aukštaitija, which borders Belarus and Latvia.
PARTNERS IN THE PROJECTS
Bella Dvina 2
Latvian partners: Latgale Planning Region (lead partner), Latgale Region Development Agency; Lithuanian partners: Anyksciai district municipality administration, Utena tourism information center, Zarasai district municipality administration; Belarusian partners: Polotsk City Executive Committee, Braslav District Executive Committee, Miory District Executive Committee, Verkhnedvinsk District Executive Committee, Rossony District Executive Committee, Interakcia Foundation (coordinated the project in Belarus).
Latvian partner – Latgale Region Development Agency (lead partner); Belarusian partners: Vitebsk Center for Regional Research and Development, Verkhnedvinsk District Executive Committee, Rossony District Executive Committee, Beshenkovichi District Executive Committee, Miory District Executive Committee, Sharkovschina District Executive Committee, Vitebsk District Executive Committee, Gorodok District Executive Committee, Interakcia Foundation (coordinated the project in Belarus).
Overall objective: To create the tourism region of Bella Dvina and increase its attractiveness to potential guests.
About the EU Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013
Priority 1: Promoting sustainable economic and social development
Measures: 1.1. Promotion of socio-economic development and encouragement of business and entrepreneurship; 1.2. Enhancement of local and regional strategic development and planning; 1.3. Improvement of cross border accessibility through the development of transport and communication networks and related services; 1.4. Preservation and promotion of cultural and historical heritage, promotion of cross border tourism; 1.5. Strengthening of social-cultural networking and community development.
Priority 2: Addressing common challenges
Measures: 2.1. Protection and sustainable development of environmental and natural resources; 2.2. Enhancement of education, health and social sphere development; 2.3. Improvement of infrastructure and equipment related to the border crossing points; 2.4. Improvement of border management operations and customs procedures.
CONTACTS AND MORE INFORMATION
Ivan Shchadranok, Project Coordinator in Belarus, Head of Interakcia Foundation
+ 375 29 632 48 72 (mobile); + 375 17 237 48 40; firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Razhentsova, PR Manager
+ 375 44 758 88 15, + 375 29 509 28 48 (mobile); + 375 17 334 24 76 (tel.); email@example.com