Hiking project

Project “Development of Forest trail in Latvia and Lithuania and expanding the Baltic Coastal Hiking route in Lithuania” (Hiking project), LLI-448

Total budget – 788 104.45 EUR

ERDF (Euopean Regional Development funds) – 669 888.76 EUR

Total co-financing – 118 215.69 EUR

Project duration – 24 months

Start date – 01.06.2020

End date – 31.05.2022

The common challenge:
The project addresses the challenge defined by the Programme – sustainable preservation, promotion and development of natural and cultural heritage objects, services and products. In this context the project partners have identified the following challenges in the Programme area:
1. Underused potential to increase numbers of hiking tourists.
2. Lack of large-scale, professionally designed and sustainable tourism products to attract visitors to rural areas.
3. Underused potential of nature heritage in tourism.
4. Underused potential of cooperation between stakeholders for development, maintenance and marketing of tourism products.
Nature is one of the key resources for tourism development in LV and LT, both countries have rich nature heritage. Hiking tourism is a good opportunity to bring people to nature, to show and explain nature heritage values.

The overall objective:
The project overall objective is to increase number of visitors to the Program area through developing and promoting two joint cross-border nature long distance hiking trails crossing the Program area.  Project partners expect at least 5% increase in overnight stays in rural areas within a year after the hiking trails are developed and launched through marketing and promotion activities.

The main project outputs and who will benefit from them:
The Forest Trail in Latvia and Lithuania, and The Baltic Coastal Hiking Route in Lithuania will be developed and promoted. Both will link with the existing long distance hiking trails filling the gap in long distance hiking trail network.

The approach:
The project takes a cross boarder approach to fulfil the ambition to create good quality long distance hiking trails and integrate them in existing trail network. Local stakeholder involvement along the trail route is the key principle to ensure local acceptance, sense of ownership and sustainability.

What is new/original about it: 
A long distance hiking trail will be implemented for the first time in Lithuania. The certification Leading Quality Trail – Best of Europe will be applied for the first time in the Baltic countries. Services specialising to cater for the needs of hiking tourists will be marked with a “Hikers’ Friendly” sign. The project is strongly aimed at creating synergies with similar initiatives and integration in the BSR and European context.

Main results of the project and beneficiaries of the project:

“During the project, two routes will be created, developed and publicized” – “Forest Road in Latvia” and “Baltic Seaside Pedestrian Route in Lithuania”. Both roads will be connected to existing long-distance pedestrian routes, thus filling the missing section of the long-distance pesticide path network with buses.

The total length of the Forest Road in Lithuania and Latvia is approximately 1,030 km (380 km in Latvia, 650 km in Lithuania) and it will pass through the most picturesque areas (forests, mounds, swamps, etc.). “Forest Road will be connected” with “Forest Road Riga” – Tallinn, which is currently developing, is implementing the Central Baltic Program project no. 779 “Long-distance cross-border pedestrian route” Forest Road “”. The same route name for the bus ensures continuity, as both routes will be merged into one. Also the use of buses and a uniform route marking scheme. Both of these roads fill a gap in the European long-distance pedestrian route E11, which was formed by the European Travelers Association.

The Baltic Sea Pedestrian Route will start from the Latvian / Lithuanian border and will last for about 100 km in Lithuania. This route will extend the existing Seaside Pedestrian Route Tallinn – Riga – Nida Village (Latvia), which was developed in the framework of the Estonian-Latvian program project no. 22 “Seaside Walking Route in Latvia and Estonia along the Baltic Sea Coast”. Currently, the route ends at the Latvian-Lithuanian border and the coastal section in Lithuania is the only section not included in the European E9 long-distance route. Upon Lithuania’s accession, the Baltic Sea Route will cover all 3 Baltic States and will be 1,300 km long. As in the case of the Forest Road, the Seaside route in Lithuania will use the same name and the same marking system as in the Latvian-Estonian part of the route. With the increase in visitor flows in the project implementation area, the indirect beneficiaries of the project will be local service providers operating along both routes – accommodation, catering establishments, transport service providers, local shops and others.

The social environment will create the conditions for local cooperation and participation in the development of routes. Tour operators will have the opportunity to design and develop travel packages based on infrastructure and services adapted to pedestrians. All other tourists will have access to new products in the new areas, as natural areas (forests, coastal areas, etc.) will be safely and conveniently accessible via the marked route and via satellite. Travelers on foot will be offered 2 new long-distance walking routes. The image of the Program area as a nature and hiking tourism destination will be improved.

Project partners

Partner organisation Contacts
Public body Kaunas regional development agency (LP) gaila@krda.lt
Countryside tourism association of Lithuania linas@atostogoskaime.lt
Directorate of Žemaitija National Park ruta.antanaviciute@zemaitijosnp.lt
Curonian spit national park administration lina.diksaite@nerija.lt
Latvian Country Tourism Association “Lauku Celotajs” asnate@celotajs.lv
Kurzeme planning region aiga.petkevica@kurzemesregions.lv
Kuldīga County Municipality aiga.vanaga@kuldiga.lv


This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of Public body Kaunas Regional Development Agency and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Last update: 13-05-2021