On the 29th of August 2017, the SWARE Stakeholder and Institutional Learning Group (SIG) Meeting was held in Alūksne, Latvia. This time participants were introduced with the successful experience of Alūksne Municipality in combining natural and cultural heritage into a unified tourism offer.

The meeting was opened by the SWARE Project Manager in VPR Lelde Ābele who summed up the project progress and informed about future activities. In the first part of the meeting the Director of Alūksne Municipality Self-government agency “ALJA” Māris Lietuvietis presented the main goals set for improving the management of public waters, with an emphasis on the Lake Alūksne and the planned zoning.

It was followed-up by the Project Manager in Alūksne Municipality Sanita Adlere who introduced participants with the work done in the tourism field. Alūksne Municipality has set tourism as a priority, because, among other, the richness of heritage sites and objects served as one of the reasons. The example of Alūksne showed that a significant tourism flow increase can be reached by improving the infrastructure to access the objects and by implementing innovative and creative ideas. The participants were also informed about the status update of measure 5.5.1. of the National Operational programme "Growth and Employment", which aims to preserve, protect, promote and develop important natural and culture heritage, as well as to develop related services. The municipality has planned several improvements to be done in the framework of this measure.

Participants considered that along with tourism development it is important to take into account local people interests and involvement and to create a friendly environment for both – locals and tourists. The inter-branch and inter-institutional cooperation as well as the idea exchange in between the municipality and among stakeholders was identified as a prerequisite for a successful development.

The meeting was concluded with a boat ride on the Lake Alūksne allowing participants to get acquainted with a part of the natural and cultural heritage in Alūksne and the story of the Lake. Participants acknowledged that such experience exchange visits trigger discussion and that the information gained will help to elaborate regional action plan for improvement of policy instruments governing the management of natural and cultural heritage along inland waterways.

The overall objective of the SWARE project is to foster integrated management of natural and cultural heritage within inland waterway regions by improving the partner regions’ related policy instruments in order to create a better balance between the protection and sustainable exploitation of the natural resources and the built heritage sites. Project SWARE is implemented with the support of European Regional Development Fund and Interreg Europe Programme 2014-2020. This publication reflects the author's views only and the Interreg Europe programme authorities are not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.