During a Quadruple conference in spring 2010 a workshop brainstorming was carried out with an idea to find out local and cross boarder clusters in three countries. Finland and Estonia already had an identified platform in the form of a Ringroad or circle road in the archipelago. In Sweden there was a hiking path and one idea was that it could serve as a platform for the cooperation. Slowly an idea was born of preparing a digital map and guide showing where to stay and what to see in connection to this hiking path. However, not all local entrepreneurs were represented on this hiking path, so an idea of cycling tourism would be more flexible and therefore suit better. When it was decided that the E-team network should be built upon bicycling tourism and bicycle packages and also focus the ICT work of Sweden on developing a mobile bicycle guide, the group work became very active. In a series of workshops an inventory was made in order to identify places to be visited; a plan was developed how to market, cooperate and do business with each other. The Project group started drawing possible routes for a bicycle map, identifying roads with less traffic and places for staying.
The project would support with mobile applications but in Roslagen there was not even a paper based map and making a mobile application was a big step. Since a paper based map was also needed the project group developed it together with a brochure describing eight travel packages.
The paper map show bike routes and is financed through advertisement. 5000 copies was printed and they have already run out. The map is bilingual: Swedish-English. Also a brochure (Swedish) has been developed – an E-team product with eight bicycle packages, accommodations, guide and recommendation. These brochures were printed by the entrepreneurs’ network. So a network has developed from a loose cooperation network to a business network. Members of the E-team participate on fairs and advertise together. Sofia stated that the network is strong, but it can be developed and become even stronger after the project has ended.
After the presentation it was pointed out by several participants that language is a big obstacle for tourism. Promotional materials should be multi-lingual in order to attract foreign tourists.
NGO Läänemaa Tourism is an NGO with a purpose of developing and marketing the Lääne county as a pleasant destination for tourism. They are providing tourism information services: webpage, maps, and information leaflets. The NGO is working with its 37 members consisting of 12 municipalities and tourism entrepreneurs (accommodation, museums, catering etc).
The main focus of Läänemaa Tourism is how to develop new tourism services and products, increase profits and employment; also, how to be more known in the nearest markets such as Finland, Sweden, Russia, etc. Answers to all these challenges they found in cluster cooperation which is a way to develop business and the destination.
In order for the Lääne county cluster to be stronger they realised that they needed a strategy. They started by developing an action plan with a bottom-up approach since the views of entrepreneurs and municipalities differ. First steps were to make research and determine needs. This was followed by strategy seminars involving hot disputes. It was difficult to get a common understanding but later on the process became smoother.
The process resulted in a clear action plan until 2013. It offers five main tourism products (history and culture, recreation, nature, events, active holiday).
Benefits from Quadruple project for the Lääne area tourism cluster are:
- Coordinated cross-border cooperation between entrepreneurs
- New investors can get an overview of the county
- Municipalities joined forces with entrepreneurs and other civil services
The Läänemaa Tourism believes that even if some stakeholders, leaders or politicians might change during the implementation process, the sustainable tourism development and marketing will continue.
After the presentation questions regarding tourism strategies in partner countries were discussed:
The municipality of Norrtälje stated that in the tourism sector of Roslagen four municipalities work together under the umbrella organisation Destination Roslagen . Each municipality is responsible for its own tourism information centres. A new company is to be established. This company will be private with a focus on both local and international markets (Germany, England, Holland, etc).
Saaremaa actors stated that there are two umbrella organisation related to tourism on the island. There has been an initiative to start a new joint umbrella organisation but so far it’s just being discussed because of lack of finances.
Hiiumaa actors stated that a tourism strategy is under development. A similar process with that in Läänemaa has started. A tourism strategy has to be developed with focus on local circumstances.