Alla Peressolova, speaker in the afternoon plenary session


The EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference’s formal programme ended with a very interesting plenary on cycle tourism. Four speakers took the stage in just one hour, talking about the legendary Silk Route, the future of cycle tourism in Europe and the cycle routes of the Barcelona Province, with a surprise guest at the end of the session. In this article we will talk about the first speaker of this session: Alla Peressolova.

Alla Peressolova is the former head of the UNWTO Silk Road Project. As such, she began by reminding the attendees that 27 September was the World Tourism Day, putting this year an emphasis on digital transformation. She gave a very complete presentation tackling the economic impact of tourism, global tourism trends, the growth of transnational themed routes, the challenges and lessons of the Silk Road and in opportunities opened by the Western Silk Road initiatives, in particular for cycle tourism.

Nowadays, tourism matters more than ever because it generates one out of ten jobs in the world. And projects such as the Silk Road can bring jobs in remote areas as well. Moreover, one of the strongest trends in tourism currently, and especially in the cycle tourism world, is the shift from service industry to experience industry. Tourists are looking for unique experiences, golden moments during their journeys. This is why theme-based tourism is a good alternative to traditional tourism.

Afternoon plenary_Alla Peressolova (5)

“Authenticity becomes one of the competitive competences in the tourism market.”

The EuroVelo routes are also theme-based tourism routes and fit very well in this new model. Alla advised people interested in this topic to have a look at the Handbook on Marketing Transnational Tourism Themes and Routes from the European Travel Commission.

She then turned to transnational initiatives. What makes them work? They require a lot of cooperation efforts, a grassroots movement from bottom to top and the involvement of local communities. Administrative and cultural challenges can arise, but if the story is strong enough, as with the Silk Road, transnational routes can be very successful.

Afternoon plenary_Alla Peressolova (9)

“I will talk about the most important route in the history of mankind: the Silk Road. It has this romantic and adventurous feeling.”

The Silk Road, it is 100,000 km of routes, 34 involved countries and a multitude of partners forming the Silk Road task force. Many factors attract tourists to the Silk Road: its long history, its connection to countless epic adventures, and its way into the mysterious huge countries of central Asia… But marketers have found out that the main drive of the Silk Road is actually the appeal of exotic foods along the route!

The Silk Road can be divided in two: the ‘Classic Silk Road’ and the ‘Western Silk Road’, for which new initiatives are financed by the European Commission in the frame of the Western Silk Road Tourism Development Initiative. In particular, there has been a cycling project along the Western Silk Route in Italy: the Silk Cycle Route, which is currently looking for Italian partners interested in reviving this route. To get involved, the person to contact is Paolo Baraldi –

Afternoon plenary_Alla Peressolova (13)

You can find more details in the full presentation of Alla Peressolova, which will be available on the Conference’s website. Here was her conclusion at the end of the Conference’s day:

“At this Conference, I felt the existence of a global community in the cycle tourism world.”

Afternoon plenary_Alla Peressolova (1)