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Opening of the EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference

04.10.2018
Opening

The EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference 2018 was opened by Igor Philtjens, Chair of Tourism Limburg and the BLCB, Provincial Executive member for Tourism, Culture and Heritage, and Christophe Najdovski, President of the European Cyclists’ Federation and Deputy Mayor of Paris. After official pictures were taken and they were offered a EuroVelo jersey, they both gave a 10 minutes speech as representatives of the two entities organizing the Conference this year: Tourism Limburg, hosting the Conference in Hasselt, and the European Cyclists’ Federation’s, managing the content.

Igor Philtjens + Christophe Najdovski

The Conference took place this year at the occasion of the UNWTO World Tourism Day, on 27 September. “Tourism and the Digital Transformation” was the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD). The EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference fitted very well with this theme as many speakers explained how digital transformations help them to get more accurate data on their cycle routes, to make them safer or more enjoyable, and in general to enhance the user’s experience. There were also a few presentations on e-bikes and how their rise is transforming the cycle tourism world.

First speaker at our Conference, Igor Philtjens explained the importance of cycling in the Limburg province which, as the birthplace of the very first cycle node network, was a very good choice for the organization of a EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference. Limburg is investing a lot in the realization of original cycle paths focusing on the cyclist’s experience, such as cycling through water. Their efforts have recently been rewarded as ‘Cycling through Water’ was selected as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places of 2018 in TIME Magazine. This attracted a lot of new visitors from all over the world to the province of Limburg. Igor Philtjens wished all participants to ‘Experience the Unique’ in Limburg, which is also the main theme of the Conference.

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But he also mentioned his own relationship to the bicycle:

“25 years ago, and also 25 kg ago, I had a dream. My dream was to become a professional cyclist.”

And with a lot of humor, he showed the video of a mishap that happened to him not long ago, when he tried to cycle ‘on’ the water rather than ‘through’ it, but did not totally succeed…

His comment, referring to the cycling through water ride scheduled for the next day: “You can touch and smell the water, but do not take it too seriously!”

Christophe Najdovski, president of the European Cyclists’ Federation since May 2018, then said a few words about EuroVelo. His first appearance as ECF president was actually at a EuroVelo event:

“In June, I attended the launch of the EuroVelo 3, the Pilgrim’s Route. This route, as all EuroVelo routes in in France, creates a strong mobility link between the French territories at the metropolitan levels.”

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Christophe stressed that the key to the success of EuroVelo is that the projects are bringing different actors together, which is essential for making real progress. He recalled the main objective that ECF chose at the last AGM in May: “to work on better and more cycling for all”. The EuroVelo routes certainly are an important step toward this objective, as they make it easy for regular tourists to try a cycling holiday, and at the same time they improve local bicycle connexions.

He finished his speech with an enthusiastic line:

“I am looking forward to learning more about EuroVelo and cycle tourism”.

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