Amazon of Europe Bike Trail:
The end will be the beginning
This is certainly a philosophical title for an update on a transnational INTERREG project. But it fits perfectly to the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail project. We explain here why.
Well, after three years, INTERREG projects usually come to an end and in the case of the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail it is even three and a half years due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As coincidence happens, at the end of the project in October 2021, the official opening of the bike trail will coincide with the opening of the world’s first UNESCO five-country biosphere reserve. And that will undoubtedly be a huge success for the efforts to preserve the last great river wilderness along the Mura, Drava and Danube for future generations.
Breathtaking river wilderness: Kopacki Rit Nature Park is one of the highlights of the UNESCO Five Countries Biosphere Park and the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail. ©Goran Safarek
However, my experience in protected area management on the one hand and in tourism on the other has taught me: Without opening up an economic perspective for the regions around the protected area, no local acceptance for nature and species conservation can develop. Because if the local population cannot derive any concrete benefit from nature conservation, protected areas cannot become regionally anchored. Yes, they will find themselves in the role of scapegoats faster than they would like, preventing or hindering a bright economic future.
Which brings us to the central question about the Amazon Bike Trails: Can this new long-distance bike trail live up to its central goal of providing economic prospects for the regions along the newly created UNESCO five-county biosphere park with sustainable tourism?
A project of superlatives
A highly ambitious, but from the point of view of the regions as the protected areas, alternativlos goal. And this has in the context of the Danube Transnational Program (DTP) a project of the superlatives let develop: 15 partners from the five countries Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia worked together intensively, in order to establish with the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail a new lighthouse for sustainable tourism:
- Two long-distance bike routes on either side of the major rivers of the Mura, Drava and Danube have been created
- With a clearly recognizable design and consistent, nature-oriented visitor guidance
- Linked with a product development that combines the individual freedom of cyclists with service, comfort and safety. Up to the online bookability.
- Provided with the central product upgrade of a so-called “Valorisation Program”, with the help of which very specific nature conservation projects in the biosphere reserve are supported
- Provided by a management focused on sustainability and long-term; based on a transnational organizational structure and its own Amazon of Europe Bike Trail booking center.
A strong team: 15 project partners from five countries have established a beacon for sustainable tourism in Europe with the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail. ©Trail Angels
A downright monstrous task, in which the Trail Angels took on responsibility as “official partner” and Work Package Leader and focused on product development and the establishment of the Trail Info & Booking Center. Amidst a dedicated project team of regional partners and the other Work Package Leaders from ISKRIVA (Project Management; Booking Center); WESTPANNON (Route Planning); WWF Austria (Design & Visitor Guidance) & WWF Adria (Valorisation Programme).
S-COM Meeting in Apatin
Well then, the task was huge ,. But it seems to succeed! This impression was impressively confirmed by our local inspection at the beginning of June, after almost one and a half years of COVID-related break: From the last Steering Committee Meeting (SCOM), organized by the busy project team of our partners from Apatin in Serbia, the impressions can be summarized as follows: The bike path has really taken shape; the motivation of the partners remains high and the potential of the region is simply breathtaking. The majesty of the Danube, the unspoiled nature of the accompanying river wilderness and wetlands, the authentic hospitality and cultural richness. Potentials, which can be lifted from now on. And still receive additional support from the activities of the INTERREG follow-up project “Amazing Amazon”.
What a magical place: the magnificent Orthodox Church of Apatin marks exactly half the way of the Danube from its source in the Black Forest to its mouth in the Black Sea. ©Trail Angels
The end will be the beginning
In October 2021, the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail will be officially opened. And in November 2021, the INTERREG project will officially end. But the product “Amazon of Europe Bike Trail” is only at the beginning. Based on a solid organizational structure and an efficient regional trail information & booking center, this long-distance bike trail will come into its own long after the actual project has been completed. We are convinced that the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail will become a model for sustainable tourism and for transnational INTERREG projects with its long-term and regionally value-adding effect.
Practical eye-catcher: Not only with the unmistakable design of its bike infrastructure will the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail shape the tourist future in the UNESCO Five-Country Biosphere Park. ®Trail Angels
- Amazon of Europe Bike Trail
- A project of the INTERREG Danube Transnational Program
- Term: 2018 – 2021
- 15 project partners from five countries (Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia)
- Budget: € 3.176.000,–
- Goal: Sustainable cycling tourism for regional development along the world’s first UNESCO five-country biosphere park
- Measures: Construction of two long-distance bike trails including the necessary visitor infrastructure; nature-oriented visitor guidance; product development for individualized, serviced biking; online bookability; establishment of a dedicated trail info & booking center; integration of a nature conservation program.
+ Booking landing page on Bookyourtrail® (coming soon)
+ The project at a glance
+ “Making of” Amazon of Europe Bike Trail
+ Official Trail Website
The Amazon of Europe Bike Trail is supported by the Interreg Danube Transnational Program. (project code DTP2-002-2.2).
The graduate geographer is one of the founders and managing directors of Trail Angels, which is responsible for the Bookyourtrail.com web platform. As a trekking & outdoor enthusiast, he is one of the fathers of the Alpe-Adria Trail and has been exploring the Nepalese Himalayas for more than 25 years.
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