A conference dedicated to cycling tourism was held in Minsk on August 23-24. In two days, the event brought together more than 100 people: activists, government officials, businessmen, avid and novice travelers.
Among the main goals of the conference was to share the experience of developing and creating bicycle routes, holding thematic events, doing business in this area and organizing independent travel. It was equally important to inspire each other to contribute to the continued development of cycling tourism in Belarus. We can say with confidence that we managed to do it!
The first day of the conference was devoted to the practical part of the development of cycling tourism. Opening remarks were made by the Deputy Director of the Tourism Department of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism Vitaly Gritsevich. Yuri Soloviev presented Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program... He is its national coordinator in the Republic of Belarus.
The director of the Minsk Cycling Society also greeted the conference participants Anastasia Yanchevskaya, Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Solutions, Project Manager, Urban Cycling in Belarus Daria Chumakova.
The conference was organized within the framework of the project "Urban Cycling in Belarus" funded by the European Union, implemented by the Center for Environmental Solutions and the public association "Minsk Cycling Society" with the co-financing of the GEF Small Grants Program "Development of Cycling in the Regions of Belarus", implemented by the public association "Minsk cycling society ”.
Cycling tourism development practice
After the introductory remarks of the organizers, the participants began their immersion into the problematic with a general overview of the topic. So the chairman of the Minsk Cycling Society Pavel Gorbunov touched on two important aspects at once: creation and implementation (approval and marking) of cycling routes in Belarus.
Pavel compiled a checklist that distinguishes a quality route from all others. Such a route:
- With good logistics (near the railway station)
- With convenient exits from the city
- Marked with signs and stands
- There is a website in two languages + download tracks
- You can download the booklet (text and audio)
- Along the route there are hotels and farmsteads, food outlets, bicycle rental and repair points, there is an opportunity to take excursions.
This was followed by a large block dedicated to the presentation of specific directions and routes:
– Marina Chizh, an expert of the institution "ZaVeloBrest", spoke about Belarusian-Polish cooperation.
– Lyudmila Fedorchuk, chief specialist of the sports and tourism department of the Novogrudok regional executive committee, presented cycling routes in Novogrudok.
– Anton Archipenko, coordinator of the Eurovelo project in Belarus, presented section of the EuroVelo-2 route from Novogrudok to Kamenets.
– Maxim Puchinsky, an expert of the Minsk Cycling Society, touched on the topic creation of urban cycling routes... The Green Cycle Ring of Minsk was considered as an example.
– Karina Sitnik, founder of domestic and inbound tourism projects Walk to Folk, Kayak Minsk, spoke about local tours, among which there is one bicycle.
– Katerina Shulga, project coordinator U-cycle (NGO "Association of Cyclists of Kiev") shared her experience implementation of successful projects in Kiev: health routes in six parks and Kyiv cycling tours
- At the end of the topic Yuri Vazhnik, director of BNPP, disclosed the meaning of the new concept - "semantic tourism" based on the route through the Pukhovichi district.
From discussing specific routes in different parts of Belarus and abroad, we moved on to the study of event tourism. The organizers presented two of the largest cycling marathons held in our country: "Naliboki" and "Susedzi".
The first was told by the head of the Federation of Adventure Racing Mikhail Sidoruk, about the second - Member of the Board of "VeloGrodno" Julia Koleda. Personal observations about establishing contacts between activists, officials and business to organize a quality event shared the chairman of "VeloGomel" Svetlana Korol.
The second day of the conference was less formal. Travel stories, ways to monetize what you love, and organizing bike trips were announced as the main topics.
Representatives of the organization "VeloGomel" Maxim Galatin and Valentina Poznyakova spent an interactive tour of your city... And after Valentine shared comic "bad advice" for cyclists... The director of VeloGomel recommended to drive as many kilometers a day as possible out of habit, and be sure to take the largest backpack with you.
Representatives of Gomel and the Gomel region
Egor Mikheev, the coordinator of bike rides "VeloGrodno", like colleagues from Brest on the first day, shared his experience in establishing international relations. About a relatively new direction of cycling tourism for Belarus - brevet - told Alexander Medel.
By the way, brevet is a long bike ride, made according to special rules. There are 6 distances in total: 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 and 1200 km, which must be overcome within a certain period of time. Now brevet is carried out in 53 countries of the world, the most famous of which is French: Paris-Brest-Paris.
With your emotions from travel with two children in the Klichevsky district, as well as tips on how to organize it shared Anastasia Lazorenko... BUT Artem Kokin I impressed all the participants of the conference with colorful photos that I took during a 10-day bike trip to the Carpathians.
How to make money on cycling
The second block of the second day of the conference touched upon the acute topic of how you can make money on cycling. So far, this area is just beginning to develop in Belarus, so the competition is not so high and it is easier to implement your ideas.
But the speakers were extremely honest and talked not only about successful cases, but also about their mistakes that aspiring entrepreneurs can avoid in the future.
Business analyst and tourist Katerina Pleshkevich invited everyone who is going to launch their project to start by answering 4 main questions:
- What and when do I want to receive?
- What to sell?
- To whom to sell?
- How to sell?
Moreover, you need to answer in as much detail as possible. Armed with answers, you can already start drawing up a business plan.
An interesting moment was the presentation of two projects that are aimed at finding and booking tours, but are at different stages of implementation. "Tourclub Active" belpohod.by organizes and sells tours himself. Whether it is possible to make a profit on this, said its founder Yuri Fedyukovich... Project Olga Belash OutdoorTours.net aims at to concentrate the maximum number of active tours on the site and to sell these tours to everyone... The platform is now preparing to launch.
Travel as a hobby
Perhaps the most emotional part of the conference was the “Traveling as a Hobby” block. The session was opened by Anton Archipenko's speech on The basics of organizing independent trips in Belarus... So, for example, the speaker advised the following in preparation:
Keep in mind that the weather is changeable (don't forget raincoats, and in summer - a cap, glasses, sunscreen)
Think in advance of all possible emergencies and how they can be resolved
Explore the terrain for elevation differences, the neighborhood with military units and training grounds
Build the speed of movement, taking into account the likelihood of breakage
Find out where shops will meet along the way to carry less food
Check the traffic on the roads and where you can cross the highway.
About two useful applications told by Ilya Zverev and Alexander Deshchenko. The first speaker explained how to use OpenStreetMap - it is a resource that helps to draw a route. And the second speaker, an experienced traveler, introduced warmshowers.org. It is a cycling community that is often referred to as “couchsurfing for bike travelers”.
The performance of famous bloggers and tourists became very lively and cheerful Alexandra and Veronica Nedelkowho are raising two little daughters. By the way, the couple began to take them with them on their cycling trips even before a year. Last year, the entire Nedelek family performed the longest of my travels: they were on the way for 53 days, visited 6 countries and covered 2,510 km.
Alexander and Veronica Nedelko
The last speaker was a dog behavior consultant Marina Ambrazheichik, which talked about how to travel with pets. It turns out there is a whole list of rules. For example, dogs need to move in a green area, not on asphalt. And while traveling, they must sleep at least 4 hours a day.
After the official part, there was a screening of bicycle short films about riding at any time of the year, girls on bicycles, amateur cycling competitions, traveling, carrying things and much more. The conference ended with a discussion of the watched mini-films.
During the two days of the conference, the hall hosted an exhibition of tourist accessories and equipment for cyclists, which could be studied and tested.
Photo: Daria Kosko... More photos can be seen here.