Smart Blue Regions project partners, tourism development and marketing specialists, tourism cluster organizations and associations, local and regional authorities met in a transnational workshop “Coastal and maritime tourism- cooperation potential in the Baltic Sea Region”, 18- 19th June, 2018, in Jūrmala, Latvia. The workshop was organised by the Smart Blue Regions project and gathered more than 25 participants.
The aim of the workshop was to exchange ideas and identify transnational cooperation opportunities in the Baltic Sea Region in the maritime and coastal tourism based on common tourism product groups and selling points of partner regions. During the first part of the workshop participants exchanged selling points and development opportunities in common maritime and coastal tourism products: nature and active tourism, health tourism, wellness and SPAs, cultural heritage and small harbours and sailing tourism. The second part of the workshop was devoted to practically plan transnational project ideas in common development and marketing of the coastal and maritime tourism products in the Baltic Sea Region.
Since the workshop was organized in Jūrmala, a largest resort town of Riga Planning Region, Mr Gatis Silovs, the Director of the Department of Sectoral Policy of the Ministry of Economics pointed out the advantages of Jurmala with its untouched coastline, abundance of pine tree forests and other natural resources, like spring waters and muds to become a well-known resort city in Latvia with high medical tourism potential.
Inga Brieze, representative of the Riga Planning Region and project "Smart Blue Regions", highlighted the project achievements and stressed the importance of transnational cooperation in coastal and maritime tourism in the Baltic Sea Region, as it is an opportunity to lay strong foundations for the development of new business ideas in the field of tourism in the future.
Gunta Ušpele, Head of the Latvian Health Tourism Association, shared experiences in the field of health tourism in Latvia. The competitive advantage of Latvia’s health tourism products is good balance between the quality and price of health tourism products already popular for visitors from European countries, Russia and the USA. An enormous advantage is the environment that provides full recreation - the proximity of the sea and wildlife in combination with the availability of medical services increasingly attracts health tourists. World trends show that medical tourism is a growing sector since people's lifestyles are becoming more stressful.
Kadri Jalonen, tourism coordinator of the Estonian Ida- Viru municipality, told about active tourism opportunities on the northern coast of Estonia. This region is less visited by tourists, but it has an amazing nature and boasts many Estonian records.
Telle Tuominen, a Turku University spokeswoman, shared experience how to preserve and market the cultural heritage (DefenseArch project) implemented in the great archipelago in Finland. She stressed the necessity to create packages of cultural heritage objects and link them in a tourism route – to offer diverse and complex experience for visitors.
Aiga Petkevica, EST-LAT Harbours Project Coordinator shared her experience in opening a new sailing destination in East coast Baltic. Small harbours in in Latvia and Estonia are creating harbours network and improving the quality of services in harbours to attract sailors around the Baltic Sea Region – both for sailing and boat maintenance.
Finally, Kairi Joesalu presented the project "Smart Marina". She stressed the need to link the harbours in a single information network with quality services and comprehensive information for sailors. Sailors travel from port to port, from city to city, from country to country. When visiting one port, the sailor needs to obtain comprehensive information how to proceed and what to do in the next harbour. She also pointed out the importance of certificates such as the "blue flags" that increase attractiveness of the harbour for tourists since they indicate the quality of certain services provided by the tourist side of the harbour.