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Andalusia hosts the 25th Anniversary of Spanish Greenways

27.11.2018
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Various national and international cycle tourism experts gathered in Seville on the 22-23 October 2018 for the “Conference 25th Anniversary Spanish Greenways”. The ECF was represented by EuroVelo’s Business Development Officer, Jesus Freire, who presented under the slogan of “Creando redes, uniendo fuerzas” (literally: “creating networks, uniting forces”) emphasizing the cooperation between Greenways (Vías Verdes) and EuroVelo as the basis of a future National Cycle Route Network and the results of numerous EuroVelo related projects that are being implemented in Spain.

Launched in 1993, the Spanish Greenways Programme aims to convert unused railway tracks into usable walking and cycling routes throughout the country. Since starting this project, over 2700 km of railway lines have been transformed into 125 greenways with itineraries covering the beautiful and diverse landscapes of the country. These greenways let travelers discover the rich Spanish cultural heritage in a healthy and sustainable way. All the greenways are marked by unique Vías Verdes signage and branding to provide route safety and tourist information.

In 1998, the influence of the programme reached beyond the Spanish boundaries with the formation of the European Greenways Association in Namur. The purpose of the EGWA is to promote and encourage the creation of similar greenways throughout the European continent. In June, they celebrated their 20th anniversary by organising an ‘experience exchange symposium’ featuring a gala evening and a visit by bike in Namur.

The conference was opened with a presentation by the Ministry of Transport and Housing of Andalusia, Felipe López García. This Spanish region is a member of ECF’s Cities and Regions for Cyclists network which aims to establish a global network of cities which are working to promote bicycle use in urban areas and encourage the exchange of knowledge. Among the attendees were numerous other representatives of national and regional bodies of Spain such as the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Government of Navarre contributing with enthusiasm to the Greenways programme.

The conference closed with the signing of the “Declaration of Seville” outlining the joint initiatives required to keep developing the Spanish Greenways Network such as, for instance, through integration of the greenways and the EuroVelo network into a National Cycle Route Network.

Back in 2017, all the Spanish regions with EuroVelo routes gathered together to establish a National EuroVelo Coordination Centre for Spain. ConBici was appointed as the secretariat of this platform to work on EuroVelo and cycle tourism at national level.

It is evident that cycling tourism is booming in Spain. Public and private stakeholders are more aware of it than ever. The participants of the conference agreed on working at the national level on defining a National Cycle Route Network to help cycling become a more important part of the tourism sector.