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20 June 2014

Grodno, Suwalki to launch first ethno-cultural project in July

GRODNO, 20 June (BelTA) – Grodno and Suwalki (Poland) are set to launch the first cross-border ethno-cultural tourist route "A trip to the ethnic fairytale" in July, Director of the Suwalki Chamber of Agriculture and Tourism Elzbieta Niedziejko told reporters, BelTA has learnt.

The project targets, first of all, tourists from Belarus, Lithuania and Poland. This new tourist product is part of the international technical aid program "Improvement of cross-border region attractiveness through the introduction of ethno-cultural resources into the tourist activities (a trip to the ethnic fairytale)". The project is financed by the European Union within the framework of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

The project will feature two tourist routes: one on the Polish side ("Seven fairy-tale villages") and one on the Belarusian side ("Belun's Inns"). This project will present the Suwalki area as a land of fairy tales and will introduce children and the youth to the cultural heritage of this region represented by the works of the famous children's writer, Suwalki-born Maria Konopnicka. The Belarusian part of the project is presented under the brand "Belun's Inns" and is based on the ethnographic heritage of Grodno Oblast. The symbol of the route is Belun, the Slavic deity of success, wealth and good luck, a patron of travelers. The Belarusian section of the route will include Grodno, Korobchitsy, Odelsk, Gudevichi, Ozery, Vasilishki and Radun. The route will feature the Ozery natural reserve, the Jewish Culture Museum in Radun, the Local Lore Center in Lida, the Czeslaw Niemen House-Museum in Vasilishki, Gudevichi State Museum of Literature and Local Lore and many more.

"Quite a number of tourists come to Suwalki County. In 2013, according to rough estimates (there are no exact statistics about it), about 300,000 people visited the county. Many of them visit the neighboring Lithuania, but Belarus is also of great interest. The essence of the Belarus-Poland project is to create a common tourist product that would catch the attention of the tourists of the three countries (the participating states and Lithuania) and probably Russia. The route is meant, first of all, for families with children and groups of children," Elzbieta Niedziejko said. A lot has already been done to materialize the project. The establishment of seven children's educational and entertaining facilities (villages) is nearing completion in Suwalki County. All the works will be finished by 30 June. The necessary infrastructure, marks, and routers have been developed, as well as information materials. The Yefim Karsky Ethnographic Museum was set up at Gymnasium No. 1 in Grodno and the Gudevichi State Museum of Literature and Local Lore was partially renovated.

According to Elzbieta Niedziejko, now the partners need to find a tour operator from the Belarusian side to promote this project, arrange tours and help get visas. "Polish and Lithuanian tourists are ready to come to Belarus despite the need to get visas, however, tour operators need to help them through," she noted.

The project "Improvement of cross-border region attractiveness through the introduction of ethno-cultural resources into the tourist activities (a trip to the ethnic fairytale)" is implemented by the Yanka Kupala Grodno State University, the Suwalki Chamber of Agriculture and Tourism, the Gudevichi State Museum of Literature and Local Lore (Belarus) and Gymnasium No. 1 of Grodno. The project is budgeted at over ?1.27 million. According to Elzbieta Niedziejko, Poland got about ?650,000. The project was launched in March 2012.