For the first time, greenways have been included in the grant programme of the European Commission’s General Directorate of Tourism (2011), indicating that they are an area regarded to have great potential and value for the development of sustainable tourism within Europe. In turn, this represents an important step forward in acknowledging that these infrastructures can contribute to the development and diversification of regional and local economies.
Recently approved by the EU, the “Greenways4tour” project, spearheaded by EGWA, (see page 2), will generate an appreciation for the richness and diversity of European greenways and help to attract tourists to those regions which have a special natural environment, and are fortunate to possess these attractive, safe and accessible off-road routes.
Greenways represent a way for cyclists, walkers, families and people with disabilities to access the great outdoors, and now all these users will be able to refer to a single website to find out about the entire European network, and thus include greenways in their holiday destinations. Tourist authorities, greenway promoters and managers, and other interested organisations will all be able to provide information about their routes, and so promote them to encourage healthy leisure pursuits.
A core part of this project, the European Greenways Observatory, will help to unveil the extent of the greenways’ initiative across Europe. We hope that, as a result, decision makers at all levels (EU, national, regional and municipal) will be made aware of the potential interest in greenways and increase their support for these resources in their budgets. Further, we expect that other regions where greenway programmes are absent thus far will see the economic potential in their development and will feel encouraged to launch them.
We urge any organisation interested in greenways to join EGWA and thus help us to promote a thriving and abundant network of these routes across Europe because they are ideal resources to develop sustainable tourism and can easily compete with other forms of tourism on our continent.
Gilbert Perrin , Carmen Aycart , Mercedes Muñoz
President, Secretary General, Director