At a meeting with Vladimir Kravtsov, the chairman of the regional executive committee, whose main topic was the development of the Augustow Canal, was discussed how to increase its tourist attractiveness. Among the specific tasks are the creation of new bike and water routes, the construction of tourist complexes, the opening of a tourist information center in the city of Sopotskin, which, by the way, will also become a center for promoting cycling and entrepreneurship in the tourism sector.
-The Augustow Canal is an actively developing tourist attraction, said Vladimir Kravtsov, the chairman of the Regional Executive Committee. -The results of its development and promotion are obvious. This is clearly indicated by the numbers. Last year, more than 125,000 tourists took advantage of visa-free entry to the Augustow Canal Park. Nearly three thousand guests proceeded through the seasonal checkpoint Lesnaya-Rudavka on the Augustow Canal. Compared to 2018, the volume of lock services for small vessels increased by almost 30 percent. We must saturate the event calendar as much as possible, make the Augustow Canal interesting and accessible for tourists in terms of vibrant tourist sites and routes, and provide a convenient and welcoming service in the field of food and accommodation.
WATER AND BIKE ROUTES
Roads are the first thing any foreign guest pays attention to for the first time. About 3 million euros in various cross-border projects have been spent to put in order the roads leading to the Augustow Canal and important adjacent tourist sites. About 30 kilometers have already been put into operation in the sections N-6054 Grodno — Sopotskin — the border of the Republic of Lithuania and N-6044 Svyatsk — Vasilevichi — Ostasha — Kadysh.
— All the updated sections are equipped with bicycle paths, said Oleg Andreychik, the head of the sports and tourism department of the regional executive committee. This will create new cycling routes — among tourists, the direction is very popular. There are plans to develop and mark a bicycle route from the Augustow Canal to BelovezhskayaPushcha, to create over the next two years more than 50 kilometers of looped tourist cycle routes along the canal.
Actively promote not only cycling, but also water routes. At first glance, a simple service is gaining popularity — riding a motor ship. Last year, 25.5 thousand people sailed along the Augustow Canal. This is a quarter more than the year before last. As part of one of the projects funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, this year the Augustow Canal will be presented with another small ship worth 180 thousand euros.
BUSINESS STARTUP ALONG THE CHANNEL
Now in the urban village of Sopotskin, work is underway to create a unique tourist information center. The project is being implemented jointly with the Polish side. It is planned to open the object at the end of April by the beginning of the new tourist season.
-The cycling tourism development center will also be located here, said Oleg Andreychik. A hundred bicycles were bought at the expense of the European Union funds. Cyclists will be able to use the point of repair, maintenance and storage of two-wheeled vehicles. Specialists will conduct consultations, inform guests about the sights, where you can have lunch, stay overnight, buy souvenirs.
In addition, the tourist information center will be engaged in the development of entrepreneurship in the field of tourism. This year it is planned to implement at least four grants of 25 thousand euros to provide services to tourists. Attracted investments will go towards realizing the most promising startups, for example, creating a mini-bakery, producing local products, making original souvenirs, and introducing master classes. This, as emphasized at the meeting, is a unique experience for the country when, it would seem, a regular tourist information center is additionally transformed into a center for the development of cycling and entrepreneurship.
RESTAURANTS, HOTELS, GUEST HOUSES …
It is perfectly understood by everyone that without the development of a network of tourism service facilities cannot be anything. In the village of Radzivilki, work is underway to recreate the Gursky estate. This year it is planned to open ten rooms there to accommodate tourists. In the future, there should be 50, and this is already a full-fledged hotel, which is enough to «shelter» an entire bus group of tourists for the night. A restaurant will be opened here.
A tourist complex will appear in the area of Chertok village.
— It will be a tourist village with four houses for guests, its own restaurant and brewery, said Oleg Andreychik. A resident of the Augustow Canal special tourist-recreational park LLC Augustow Investment Company plans in May this year to begin the implementation of the first stage of the announced investment project. Estimated volume of investments is almost 124 thousand dollars.
The former hostel of a brick factory in the village of Rynkovtsy is also looking for an investor who could create a tourist base there with places for accommodation and meals. During the meeting, the fate of the old department store in the urban village of Sopotskin was also affected. A tourism strategy will be developed here too.
One of the most attractive for foreign guests is the palace and park ensemble Svyatsk. This year, the first phase of the reconstruction of the facility will be completed. The architectural pearl of the Prinemansky Krai will finally at least partially open its doors to tourists.
The meeting also discussed the work of border checkpoints, an advertising and information campaign to attract foreign visitors.
By Anna RADIUK