Why & How

MEDCYCLETOUR: MEDiteranean CYcle route for sustainable coastal TOURism

Specific objective: To enhance sustainable the development policies for more efficient valorisation of natural resources and cultural heritage in coastal and adjacent maritime areas of a sustainable and responsible coastal and maritime tourism in the MED Area.

While the Mediterranean region is an already well-known destination for tourism in general, it is unfortunately far behind other markets with regards to cycling tourism (with a few exceptions e.g. Mallorca or the Po Cycle Route). It is easy to visualize the possibilities that the Mediteranean Region (especially the coastal and maritime areas) can offer for the main cycle tourism markets. To access the markets outside the Mediterranean region (mostly in North-West Europe) there is a need to work together, particularly on common branding and product development.

The EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route – which crosses 7 EU member states (Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Cyprus) and 3 candidate countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania) – offers a unique opportunity for a flagship route to achieve this. The successful destinations can support each other and to convince cycle tourists to return to the macro – region (those who are interested in one country / region are more likely to be interested in other Mediterranean cycle tourism destinations).

In order to protect and promote the Mediterranean’s natural and cultural resources, there is a need for more sustainable and responsible costal and maritime tourism. According to the WTO, the Mediterranean countries already attract 18.5% of the world`s tourist arrivals, a figure that grew even during the economic crisis. This growth is concentrated in time and space (to the main hot-spots and to the short summer season) and, if not managed sustainably, can negatively impact upon the very things that attract tourists to the region.

Cycle tourism is a perfect tool to tackle these challenges. It supports the economy in areas ‘off the beaten track’, helps extend the tourism season (the conditions can actually be preferable in autumn, winter and spring), generates very low CO2 emissions and cycle tourists are more likely to use public transport to reach their destination.

According to a study commissioned by the European Parliament (EP), cycling tourism is one of the largest growing segments of the tourism sector in Europe, generating 2.3 billion day trips and 20.4 million overnight trips every year. The total economic impact of cycling tourism in Europe is €44 billion per year. In the EU countries along EuroVelo 8, cycling tourism (on all routes) may eventually generate a total of €24 billion annually in direct revenues according to the same EP study. This is not a surprise because cycle tourists stay longer (often outside the classic tourism season), spend more (€353 on overnight trips as an average) and consume more local products and services compared with other form of tourism.

Our project will create a transnational cycle route which is already part of EuroVelo, the European cycle route network (recognized by the EP, European Commission), and will deliver strategies, knowledge and support to realize the potential of cycle tourism across the whole Mediterranean region.

Our project will exploit the opportunities for sustainable tourism development offered by cycle tourism, based on a flagship project called the Mediterranean Route. As EuroVelo 8, the Mediterranean Route is already part of EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, being one of the 14 cycle routes that cross the continent. Being part of the EuroVelo network reflects the potential EuroVelo 8 has to become one of the most successful long-distance cycle routes in Europe, generating additional tourists and revenue in a sustainable way. According the study commissioned by the EP, the total economic impact of EuroVelo cycle route network when complete is approximately €7 billion but in order to exploit this potential we need to improve the conditions for cycle tourists.

Our project will focus on all route components (i.e. infrastructure, public transport connections, signalisation, services, promotion etc.) in order to create an attractive, safe and comfortable route fulfilling the needs of the main target groups. First we will survey and evaluate the current situation of the route using the European long-distance cycle route certification standard.

We will define the necessary actions, responsible organizations and financial resources in order to improve the conditions, summarizing the results in action plans. We will look for good practices to design and implement these actions and we will pilot combined bike and public transport solutions; innovative signalization; and cycling friendly service networks. In order to reach the target groups we will develop innovative communication solutions (e.g. websites, apps for smart phones) and we will apply common branding and corporate design in order to attract and satisfy our customers.

To ensure the sustainability of the results we will influence policies and decision makers to implement the proposed actions and methods and to invest in the Mediterranean Route in order that it realizes its full potential.