River PLUS
Project Number – MIS 5052243
Priority axis 2 - A Sustainable and Climate adaptable Cross-Border area
Investment priorities 6c - Conserving, protecting, promoting and developing natural and cultural heritage
Intervention fields 094. Protection, development and promotion of public cultural and heritage assets
095. Development and promotion of public cultural and heritage services
Call 2nd Call for proposals under priority axes 2 & 4
Lead Beneficiary Municipality of Simitli
Beneficiaries Municipality of Emmanouil Pappa
Municipality of Irakleia
Municipality of Sidiki
Municipality of Strumyani
Serres Development Agency - S.A.
Start Date Nov 29, 2019
End Date Oct 31, 2023
Budget 1.011.737,58 €
ERDF Contribution 859.976,94 €
National Contribution 151.760,64 €
The project area is characterized by rich cultural and natural heritage. Municipalities of Simitli and Strumyani in Bulgaria and Iraklia, Sintiki and Emmanuel Pappa in Greece, run by Struma or Strymonas river, have large areas belonging to Natura 2000 sites and other protected areas.
Furthermore, belong to low-developed rural and remote areas and bear favorable conditions for the development of eco-tourism, thematic tourism and potential for development of cross border cooperation.  The similarities in the nature and social environment of the partners address common problems, issues, challenges and opportunities focusing to the protection, management and exploitation of natural and cultural resources and local traditional activities. There is a strong need for improvement of the preservation status and increasing the carrying capacity of cultural and natural sites used for tourist purposes.The overall objective of the project is to enhance touristic attractiveness of the area through the transnational cooperation for the protection and promotion of local natural and cultural heritage and resources. 

The project’s approach is focusing mainly in three issues. The first refers to the need for infrastructures for improving the preservation status and promoting of the cultural and natural sites and activities of the area. The project includes the implementation of works at a recreation area, works for increasing thematic tourists hosting capacity, adventure sports facilities, information centers and a museum for local traditional activities.

The second, which is that one that is addressing new approaches and tools with cross border character for the area and makes apparent the transnational approach, refers to the enhancement of a common touristic identity through studies, seminars for public servants, professionals and local people and thematic workshops on innovative touristic knowledge. The third part of the project is also essential for ensuring the cross border character of the project and giving an added value in its actions. It consists of the development of a network for the professionals and stakeholders of the area through know-how and best practices exchange and common touristic business expeditions.

The expected results include a better preservation status and increased attractiveness of area’s natural and cultural assets for local and international visitors, increased tourist traffic and improved capacities of local authorities and actors to sustainably use area’s natural and cultural resources, through the improved infrastructures, the training of personnel and the knowhow and best practices exchange. The above results will contribute in improved, in the long term, living standards and environmental conditions through a better use of natural resources and improved employment opportunities in environmental and touristic services.

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