The Mineral Waters – Bridge between Cross-Border Regions and Cultures (Banite Municipality, Smolyan Region)

Project duration: 12 months

Project summary:

The project “The Mineral Waters – A Bridge Between Cross-Border Regions and Cultures” had as a main objective to encourage both “people-to-people” and local development acti¬vi¬ties in order to achieve a sustainable cross-border impact and thus to facilitate the gradual alignment of economic and social development in both border regions. The target groups comprised the local populations of Smolyan and Doxato regions as well as all present and potential beneficiaries of different types of tourism including SPA, cultural, rural and cycling tourism. The main activities scheduled were organization of “Mineral Waters Cultural Festival” in Banite Municipality with including folklore performance and competition; promotion of SPA tourism and other tourist opportunities through live events, advertisement materials and training of tourist animators and organizers. Within the framework of the project there was developed a cultural and tourist information system available in three languages in Internet which to guarantee a sustainable cultural exchange and long-term cross border cooperation between the target regions.

The project has achieved the following results:

  • Cultural and Sports Events– The Cultural Events included the organization of “Mineral Waters Cultural Festival”. The Festival continued three days and included artistic and folklore events. Authentic customs typical for the region of Rhodopi Mountain were presented as well as the peculiar and thrilling beauty of the Rhodopean songs. Greek participants also performed their original folklore customs and habits. Together with the typical for both cultures folk customs, the most attractive for both regions national costumes were presented. There was also a drawing competition for children titled “Cultural Heritage and Natural Resources”. The participants in all competitions were divided in two age categories and the best performers were awarded first, second and third prizes. The rest of the participants received honorary certificates. The festival ended with an official dinner involving Greek and Bulgarian traditional dishes as well as presentation of recipes for the unique specialties from both cuisines.

A cycling competition was organized in the village of Oryahovets. All festival participants from both countries had the opportunity to join in the competition. Mountain bikes were available for the guests who did not have such. The participants were divided into three age categories: up to 10 years, 10-16 years, over 16 years. The winners in the three age categories were awarded.

  • Promotion of SPA Tourism – On the third day of the cultural exchange, a SPA Tourism seminar was held, 50 people participating. Its main goal was to promote the unique SPA resources of Banite Municipality. During the seminar local medical specialists presented the effective SPA treatment of diseases of the motion, the peripheral neural, and the digestive systems, as well as osteoporosis and others. The participants in the seminar visited the SPA Center and saw the services offered.
  • Development of a cultural and tourist information system – The system is a software product including detailed database with two main sections – a cultural and a tourist one. The cultural section consists of detailed articles, photos and music from the cultural heritage of both cross border regions. The tourist section includes all available SPA and all the other tourist resources in Banite and Doxato Municipalities. It also provides updated information for all hotels, family hotels, guest houses, restaurants, tavern places, bars, as well as all the other natural and historical attractions and entertainment in both municipalities. Both sections of the cultural and tourist information system are available in three languages – Bulgarian, Greek and English.
  • Design and Printing of colorful tourist guide –  The tourist guide is in Bulgarian, Greek and English, 32 colourful pages with detailed information and photos about all major tourist attractions in Banite and Doxato Municipalities as well as Smolyan and Drama Cross Border region.
  • Design and Printing of colorful tourist map – The tourist map includes all nature, tourist and cultural attractions in Banite and Doxato Municipalities as well as Smolyan and Drama Cross Border regions. The map has been printed in three languages – Bulgarian, Greek and English.
  • Conference in Doxato – On September 9-10, 2006 a conference took place in Doxato with the participation of 50 representatives from Bulgaria and Greece. The goal was promotion of the two cross border destinations and their tourist and cultural peculiarities. The conference was closed, signing a twinning agreement between both municipalities. The agreement stipulates promotion of the social, cultural and commercial development, using the natural and human resources as well as reinforcement of the business activities between the two municipalities in view of establishing joint enterprises.
  • Training – 10 young were trained for the efficient promotion of SPA tourism and tourist services in Banite Municipality in a long-term period. They are university graduates and residents of Banite Municipality. The training included professional qualification of Tourist Animator and Organizer. Moreover 10 youths were trained in Greek and English languages.

Project partners:

  • Banite Municipality, Smolyan District – Bulgaria
  • Doxato Municipality – Greece