Valmiera city with the surrounding municipalities elaborated a common tourism development strategy to raise competitiveness of a unified tourism destination.
4 neighboring municipalities, located in the Gauja National Park tourism destination, elaborated a common tourism development strategy to raise competitiveness of a unified tourism destination on a regional and national level. The network is strengthened by combining the stakeholders’ creativity with know-how of destination management, active communication and coordination, targeted strategic long-term vision with a consolidation of resources to obtain a higher competitiveness compared to other destinations that work individually.
The strategy is implemented based on inter-municipality agreement with a dedicated budget. The activities include marketing, web page maintenance, travel promotion and common events. They are targeted to nearest foreign markets and national tourists, so the smallest municipalities can gain visibility through common offers with Valmiera city which is the main attraction. One of the strategic directions is developing public events that benefit the whole territory.
Stakeholders are involved on a voluntary base. Management and coordination of Valmiera+ is performed by an advisory board. Main stakeholders are Valmiera city and 3 surrounding municipalities, tourism SMEs, relevant state institutions, NGOs and Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences that ensure a triple-helix approach.
Creating a common destination helps to increase the overall competitiveness of each site. It is perceived as one destination with all the elements of a tourism system.
Yearly budget consists of municipality payments and is around 5000 EUR Additional investment is time spent creating common strategy and implementing it. The biggest input comes from Valmiera city Tourism information center human resources that coordinate the network and develop promotional materials
Evidence of success
This initiative has been crucial to start cooperation between involved municipalities and between SMEs that saw each other as a competitor before. The new web-page is a useful tool that offers tourists one platform to get information about all offers in the area. Since the beginning of cooperation, number of nights spent in Valmiera+ destination has grown twice both by local and foreign tourists.
Due to its success, a new strategy for the next 5 years is being elaborated.
Potential for learning or transfer
Combining forces together from several close areas, the tourism proposal from this region can get more attractive and interesting to tourists - more places to visit, more places to eat, sleep for the night, visit attractions etc. This way tourists can plan their trip for longer stay, therefore nurturing the businesses of this region. Also, a bottom-up initiative is the first step to start networking and creating a common strategy for tourism. It is only a question of willingness to coordinate and work regularly together. Becoming partners rather than competitors can benefit the whole destination.