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March 29, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

European inland waterways acting as drivers for innovation and growth

To read the full text – REVALORISE: Multifunctional Waterways

European inland waterways are acting as drivers for innovation encouraging the development of SMEs particularly in sectors with potential for economic growth.  Inland waterways – canals, rivers and lakes are bringing together businesses on a cross-sectoral basis.

Tourism at a European level –

  • Directly generates 5% of Europe’s GDP
  • Supports 1.8m enterprises (mainly SMEs) and 9.7m jobs.
  • When related industries dependent on tourism are taken into account, these rise to 10% GDP and 12% of labour force.

Sustainable tourism – focused on developing the cultural and natural heritage of waterways is highlighted in several of the “good practices” identified by Waterways Forward partners’ and developed and illustrated by Landscape Interface Studio, Kingston University.

Brzeg Dolny, Poland is a good example of development of water tourism in a new member state.  The Municipality of Brzeg Dolny, partner in the Waterways Forward project, is learning from the knowledge exchange and identification of good practices amongst the 17 project partners to develop its regional action plan for the Odra River.

“The local strategy is to improve the living standard of our inhabit­ants. Aiming future development – of industry, tourism, agriculture, trade and services – towards the Odra River the will enable the mu­nicipality to revive and revalue this sector. We have a great op­portunity to boost water tourism if we can build upon the cultural and architectural heritage that already exists along the river. Furthermore we want the Odra to be classed IV navigable to connect with the Danube and the Elbe to increase tourism. Our main priority is to complete the construction of the Malczyce barrage that will greatly affect development of inland water­way transport in the region.”

Source: Monika Kaplon, Head of EU Funds Units, Municipality of Brzeg Dolny

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2 Comments

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  1. Claudio Repossi / Mar 29 2012 12:54 pm

    I think that the potential of tourism along inland waterways, is still largely under estimated in various part of Europe. Enhancing aspects of the connection between the waterway and the neighboring territories, promoting cultural heritage, landscape, naturalistic areas and spotrs on open air is one of the “keys” in supporting local growth.
    The important numbers, reported in the article, about the tourism in Europe, in my opinion, can be improved by strengthening the connection between the tourist services of waterways and the offers of the territories also through the improvement of intermodality.
    Moreover, the adoption of policies to support tourism in general and domestic tourism in particular, often meets the expectations of local stakeholders… who, of course, expect to be involved, but above all, they want to see improved their standard quality of life (as Monika Kaplon said)

  2. Andrew Stumpf / Apr 3 2012 10:14 am

    The final point is particularly important. Tourism supports many facilities that are equally important to the local community. For example in Britain in rural areas canal tourism – both day visitors and those staying longer – support pubs and shops that form community hubs encouraging people to socialise. The need to attract tourists also promotes people to understand, appreciate and then want to protect their cultural heritage. It is a virtuous circle; if local people take pride in their place they will be more likely to “sell” it to visitors; if visitors take an interest in their place then local people are more likely to take pride in it.

    Our built and natural heritage create the character and distinctiveness that sets places apart creating their unique selling point. Birmingham in England used canals as their unique selling point to great effect transforming people’s perceptions of the “Black Country”. Here in Wales Cadw has been undertaking characterisation studies to develop and understanding of the way towns developed, their grain, and their architectural nuances, the patina. In parralel Wales has sustainable development as its central organisaing principle which means seeing the natural environment as underpinning the economic and social health of the nation. We see our natural and built heritage as Wales’ greatest asset and the canals are an importnat part of that with internationally significant built, social and natural heritage in their own right and paths that create easy access to such more of the landscape.

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