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The Heritage as a Resource
Taking advantage of heritage to benefit the
Initiated and implemented by Ecotourism Ltd, ECOVAST and PRISMA, Heritage Trails benefit from the financial support of Directorate-General XXIII ("Enterprise policy, Trade, Tourism and Social Economy") of the European Commission and the regional authorities of the two pilot areas concerned.
According to the project's officials, a Heritage Trail is "a regional network of natural and cultural heritage sites which is created with a well-defined product identity, in order to support an interesting and varied tourist visit of up to one week." In each of the two regions, the project team identified those sites which might attract visitors. Working closely with the landowners and local people, it selected sites that had the capacity to receive visitors. The team then undertook a detailed market study to establish which kinds of visitors might be attracted to the region. It prepared an outline of a Trail which might be marketed and undertook intensive consultation with local authorities and the community to complete an agreed Trail.
This led to the creation of a Heritage Trail Association comprising all the actors concerned by the Trail. The project team helps these associations, particularly in the promotion and marketing of accommodation and tourist attractions and the implementation of quality standards. The Slovenian Trail was ready for marketing at the World Tourism Fair in London in November 1996. The Bulgarian Trail was completed in summer 1997, and its marketing began that autumn. Several tour operators have already expressed interest in the two destinations.
A "Manual on Heritage Trails" presenting the details of the project has been published (*) and some one hundred people attended the seminar organised as part of the project in Slovenia in April 1997. Representing 22 countries, all the participants considered the Heritage Trails format to offer good prospects for the development of rural tourism, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe.
(*) "Manual on Heritage Trails".
source: LEADER Magazine No.17 - Spring, 1998