The project was implemented by seven partners in Latgale and Aukštaitija – municipalities of Preiļi, Riebiņi, and Aglona in Latvia, the districts of Anyksciai and Moletai, Panevezys, as well as the regional parks of Sartu and Grazute in Lithuania. The promotion of tourism is a complex measure – not only the improvement of recreational sites is necessary, but also the education of service providers and cooperation between entrepreneurs and municipalities. Therefore, during the project from May 2, 2018, until February 1, 2020, the local governments and organizations carried out various and diverse activities to develop environmentally-friendly tourism in the region.
Recreation sites (Preiļi beach, Sabalunkos campsite in Zarasai district, Galuono lake in Balninkai, Alauso lake in Inturke, Moletai town beach, Nevežys river in Panevežys, Ciriša beach in Aglona, lakes of Riebiņi district, Šventoji river in Anyksciai) were improved to promote the attractiveness of these areas in the eyes of tourists. Water equipment was purchased – 3 rowboats, 3 puddle boats, 1 boat, 41 SUP – Boards, 7 water bikes, 5 catamarans, 87 life jackets, 4 water balls, 2 water zorb, 2 trailers for boat, 1 sound system, 1 inflatable attraction for children, 2 outdoor tennis tables, 20 tennis rackets, and 30 balls, 1 beach badminton set, 10 beach football balls, 10 volleyball balls, 1 sightseeing telescope and 2 binoculars, 1 outdoor tent. Infrastructure objects were created – outdoor fitness equipment installed at Cirīša lake in Aglona, the Pontoon dock and handhold for handicapped persons in Sabalunkos campsite in Gražute regional park, mobile beach house with WC, shower and changing room adjusted for handicapped people in Moletai, modular container-warehouse for water equipment in Riebiņi, pontoon for water equipment in Aglona.
Equipment for handicapped people in Preili, Moletai, and Sartu and Grazute regional parks was purchased – 6 beach wheelchairs in Preili, Moletai, Sartai, and Grazutes regional parks; 2 wheel boats in Preili and Moletai.
To maintain the water objects in the partners’ territory equipment was purchased – 3 water grass cutters, 1 vibroblade, 1 pontoon and mud pump set, work clothes for grass cutting, and additional equipment for the pontoon and grass cutters.
A capacity-building seminar for tourism stakeholders in Anykščiai on 10-11 October 2018, a practical seminar for nature interpreters, local guides, and park guides in Antaliepte on 19-20 September 2018, and a brainstorm meeting in Preili on 12 December 2018 were organized to raise awareness on cultural and natural heritage objects.
3 common tourism routes “I travel for Nature”; “Travel with no limits”; “7 Days – 7 Lakes” in Latvia and Lithuania were developed.
The environmentally friendly attitude was promoted by organizing two adventure camps for children – in Aglona on 15 – 21 July 2018, and in Antaliepte (Gražute regional park) on 2-8 August 2019.
An interactive APP “Pure water” was developed, through which every visitor of lakes, rivers and ponds can try to determine the water quality of the particular water body and learn to recognize animals and plants living in water and shore.
Available at Pure Water Eco Travel on the App Store (apple.com) and Pure Water – Apps on Google Play
Four tourism festivals were organized – Lake festival in Rušonas lake on 4 August 2018, (video ), Eco-festival in Aizkalne on 31 May – 1 June 2019, (video), Nature festival in Antaliepte (Grazute regional park) on June 29-30, 2019, a winter festival in Panevežys city on 20 January, 2019.
Water biodiversity was investigated in Šventas lake, LT. The collected data shows that the quality of the lake is very good, investigated species indicate that the lake has a low anthropogenic impact, also rare species of plants and water insects were found. Local guides and nature guides are providing information for tourists, the local tourism company is organizing eco-tours on Šventas lake with SUP boards and visitors are informed about the biodiversity. Results are available in Lithuanian: http://grazute.lt/data/files/svento_ezero_bioivairoves_makrofitu_tyrimu_ataskaita.pdf
A common “Ecotourism Development Strategy in years 2019-2023 in cross-border areas” was developed. It is a practical document containing specific recommendations for each municipality involved in the project, in order to promote environmentally friendly tourism. Strategy is available in Latvian and English.