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Highlights – Blazing a trail: Innovation in cycle tourism

04.10.2018
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All the presentations in this session were linked to the theme for this year’s Conference: “Experiencing the Unique”.  It brought together examples of innovation in different fields, from governance to communication, which enable visitors to enjoy unforgettable experiences on two wheels. These. 

The session begin with Wolfram Hinnenthal, the Managing Director of ADFC’s Bett + Bike – the successful cycle friendly service scheme.  Wolfram explained that the platform now has over 5,800 hotels, guesthouses, youth hostels and campsites that meet the ADFC quality criteria.  He used the EuroVelo and Cycling Tourism Conference to launch an English-language version of the website to appeal to international travels.

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Wolfram was followed by Bart Gregoor, the founder and “véloromantiseur” of Café Coureur, a Belgian based bicycle shop, café and cycling events organiser. In his entertaining presentation Bart gave five pieces of advice based on his experience in developing Café Coureur but which had wider relevance for tourism destinations and route operators.

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From service providers, the session then moved to new tools for cycle tourists. Johan Vanswijgenhoven, Project Manager at Click & Bike, explained how they have developed a tablet that can be placed on the handlebars of bicycles containing information about routes, points of interest, bike repair shops etc. Their first solution was incorporated onto their own bicycle – the Kingo SmartBike – but they hope that future models can be open to use on all models.

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Eveline Sierens presented a digital route platform that the Tourism Department at the Province of Antwerp have recently launched, which enables users to design their own tours based on the extensive cycle network that exists in the province.  The same tool can also be used by tourist attractions and service providers to promote themselves and generate their own proposals for routes.

Moving on to a different, but equally important, area of cycle tourism development Camille Perretta gave a presentation on the development of innovative governance models in the frame of “La Méditerranée à Vélo” (the section of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route in France). Developing a product based on a long distance cycle route that crosses the boundaries of several public authorities can sometimes be very complicated but Camille presented the steps that they have taken in the south of France to achieve that, aiming to create more cycling through better governance.

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A very successful practice is to organise cycle rides on the route, such as the famous “Plus Belle La Voie”, a 600-km bike ride which took place this year from 6 to 22 September. It gave a big boost to the EuroVelo 8 in France. The development of bike-friendly services along the route is also very important.

“We took the opportunity of this ride to gather all partners and focus on signing what needed to be signed.”

The ‘headliner’ of the session was Paul Cheese, a musician, sound artist, producer, singer, songwriter and cyclist. In a completely unique intervention Paul explained how in April this year, he cycled 2650 km (carrying 45kg of musical equipment) along Eurovelo routes 11, 8, 5, 7 through Greece and Italy capturing the sound of fantastic locations along the way – and creating the first song for his new album.  It was a perfect example of how to think outside the box to reach new audiences and how to approach marketing campaigns differently.

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“I use cycling as inspiration for my song writing. My goal is to get children and adults to listen to the world differently. So I ask: what is the soundtrack of your adventure?”