Vidzeme's Action Plan implemented during Phase 2 in 2019, with great results in obtaining Council of Europe certfication for the 'Iron Curtain Trail' Cultural Route
Vidzeme Tourism association in cooperation with the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences and European Cyclists' Federation worked for the Euro Velo 13 “Iron Curtain trail” certification procedure. The application for the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme was made in September 2018. During 16 – 17 February the certification committee from the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe programme had the site visits at the nature for checking the Iron Curtain train if it is applicable and meets the criteria for being certified as the official Culture Route in Europe.
During 2019 Vidzeme Tourism association worked actively for promoting the Culture routes in Latvia and the good practises from the Cult-RInG project partners regions. During this period Vidzeme Tourism association worked closely together with the Ministry of Culture and Latvian Investment and Development agency Tourism department for creating common understanding about the importance of the Culture routes in Europe and how it can be beneficiary for the SMEs at the regions.
Due to the Vidzeme Tourism associations projects Cult-RInG activities Latvia (Ministry of the Culture) became as the 33rd member state of The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.
On a regular basis Vidzeme Tourism Association communicates with the members and involved stakeholders. During these meetings stakeholders informed about their needs and plans for this year. Each meeting VTA is reporting about the plans for the coming three months if it was possible and applicable. There are established goals and milestones for involved parties to know where to participate and actively take part.
During each of the Vidzeme Tourism associations internal meeting (board and members meeting) the stakeholders are informed about the activities and planned works and meetings. During the phase 2 VTA was engaging the stakeholders to participate at the events and send in their good practises to international and regional competitions, as example ECTN; EuropaNostra; Necstour; ETC joint award, EDEN (national award), LIAA Tourism development Agency organised competitions etc. The participation at these competitions are very important as then it is possible to evaluate the works done. Moreover, participation at the international awards gives the opportunity to be evaluated by the international and competent critics.
1) During the 1st year of Phase 2 (2019) the biggest success was that Euro Velo 13 “Iron Curtain Trail” become as the certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe. On 2 October, 2019 the official Certification Ceremony for 5 new Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe took place during the 9th Cultural Routes Annual Advisory Forum at the Astra Museum in Sibiu, Romania where “Iron Curtain Trail”, together with four other routes obtained the certification in 2019. The Annual Forum was attended by numerous high-level representatives from many International Organisations (such as the EU, UNESCO, UNWTO, ETC, BSEC, members of the ECTN), EPA member States and activists from the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.
Certification Ceremony for the Iron Curtain Trail, Cultural Route of the Council of Europe: Michael CRAMER (President and Founder, Iron Curtain Trail), Snežana SAMARDŽIĆ-MARKOVIĆ (Director General of Democracy, Council of Europe) and Birgitta RINGBECK (Chair, Governing Board of the EPA on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe).
2)At the 2019 ECTN Awards 'Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism' the 'Iron Curtain Trail' new Cultral Route of the Council of Europe received the 1st Prize in the category “Transnational Thematic Tourism Products including Cultural Routes”. The application for the awards was made by Latvia Investment and Development agency Tourism department. This award and the application itself show the importance and the contribution the sustainable tourism development and competitiveness between the biggest and most popular Culture Routes in Europe.
Inese Šīrava, Head of the LIAA Tourism Department receiving the ECTN Award 1st Prize during the Tourism Conference in Riga, Latvia.
3) The efforts of Vidzeme Tourism Association in facilitating the development of Cultural Routes of Europe have been noticed on a National level as well. Latvia joined the Partial Agreement as the 33rd official member state.
Latvia is currently (as of 2020) crossed by five certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe: the Hansa, Réseau Art Nouveau Network, Viking Routes, European Route of Industrial Heritage and Euro Velo 13 “Iron Curtain trail”.