The project supported the area of Chimay to promote 'green tourism' and boost local development by fostering cooperation among local stakeholders.
The forest covering Chimay county in Wallonia, Belgium, has a great potential for tourism development. However, the area remained relatively widely unknown as a tourist destination. Since 2008 preparatory work was carried out to see how this situation could be reversed. This included a multidisciplinary study, formulating a development strategy, and an analysis of the area's accessibility and resources.
Building upon this work, the project funded the development of a range of new tools and services that would make the area more attractive and recognisable. A mobile App was developed that allows users to download more than a hundred walks searchable by certain criteria and detailing information on the landscape and heritage landmarks; an events programme was prepared featuring weekend nature activities, an introduction to geocaching, theme discovery hiking, a park festival in Viroin-Hermeton, nature workshops for children and adults, competitions and a photo exhibition; promotional tools, etc.
The project supported the visibility of existing activities such as 'The Great Adventure' track comprising of 178 km of marked trails and nine bivouac areas (primitive camp sites to spend the night in the wilderness), through its promotional activities. A key element in this process was that potential tourist client groups were identified and differentiated in order to match with the different products. Families were at the heart of the project, and also hikers and sportsmen.
The project developed a wide range of tools and services that significantly upgraded the image of the area as a tourist destination.
Thanks to this initiative a wide range of different local actors including the tourism bureaus of Chimay and Vallée des eaux vives, the Nature Park of Viroin-Hermeton, municipalities, local clubs, hosting providers and restaurateurs, etc. joint efforts under a common vision that will boost the local economy and further facilitate the development of new visitor offerings.