The EcoTour-Net is a promising project developed under the Joint Operational Programme Black Sea Basin for cross–border cooperation, which is designed to promote cycling tourism. It allows towns on the Black Sea coast to preserve their nature and at the same time attract more tourists thanks to their natural, architectural and cultural landmarks. The project, in which Bulgaria also takes part, amounts to 795,000 euro and includes 48 tourist trails located in five countries. It covers 48 locations, 10 bicycle trails and 6 hiking trails, 32 recreation spots and 4 bird watching towers. Turkey (Şile), Ukraine (Zaporizhzhya), Greece (Xanthi), Georgia (Caucasus) and the Bulgarian town of Byala have joined the project with their landmarks.
The Byala municipality is located in the central part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and is equally distant from the two biggest cities on the Bulgarian coast, Varna and Burgas (at about 70 km). The town has well-developed tourist infrastructure with many hotels and restaurants, but the municipal administration would like to make it more inviting for cyclists, too. That is why special facilities and services will be developed under the EcoTour-Net project, which will attract bikers to this part of the Black Sea. The young people at the local administration say that the residents and visitors of Varna, for example, could visit Byala even for a day.
In an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio the project manager Kosta Stoyanov explains more why this trip is worthwhile:
“The recreation spots have been chosen with spectacular views, so that the tourists here can admire them. Nine rest stops with tables and chairs have been accommodated along the trails, so that cyclists and hikers can sit down and rest. Besides, a bird-watching tower has been built on the Via Potica road, which runs along the Black Sea Coast, just above the Belite Skali (White Rocks) natural landmark. The tower is quite large, two-storey, more than 8 metres in height. This route is very popular with amateur photographers and ornithologists, because some very interesting bird species can be observed along the Via Pontica. There are many drinking fountains along the trails too, where people can freshen up. We hope that by creating ecotourism trails and locations we will attract more tourists and increase the revenues from their visits. This will benefit local businesses, producers and residents.”
Three new cycling trails have been developed on the territory of the municipality of Byala with a total length of 36 km. In addition, online e-maps and QR codes have been set up to guide tourists to nearby attractions. In this way, they will not need to use paper maps. “All important information, including about the drinking fountains which cannot be seen from the road but are nearby, is indicated online”, Zdravko Vassilev from Byala-based Ardour cycling club told the BNR:
“We carefully explored all possible local sites – drinking fountains, cultural, historical and natural landmarks. We wanted not only to indicate them on the trail route, but also to give some information about them. One of the trails starts in Byala and passes through Goritsa, Samotino and Shkorpilovtsi, while the other one starst from the Byala Fortress, where archeological excavations are being conducted, and goes all the way to Karadere.”
Based on BNR archive materials: Gergana Mancheva
Editor: Darina Grigorova