• The "Motława" ferry does not operate due to the river embankment renovation until further notice
• The Crane remains closed to visitors due to renovations - read
• The Fisheries Museum in Hel is closed to visitors on 04/04/2023 due to an event taking place in the branch

On The Beautiful Southern Baltic…

Can the regions along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea become as popular with tourists as the Mediterranean? Participants of the new EU-supported project believe Seathere is unused potential in this region of Europe.

Many studies point to the region of Southern Baltic as a prospective area of cross-border cooperation. European regulations on Structural Funds for the 2007-2013 programming period have made cross-border cooperation programmes possible between longshore regions that are not more than 150 kilometres apart. The South Baltic Programme, covering a much bigger area than other programmes – regions from five EU member states, altogether 114.63 thousand square kilometres – has been joined by Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden. The programme budget is in excess of 75 million euro, 60 million of which is from the European Regional Development Fund.

Within the programme, four Baltic countries – Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Sweden – have embarked on a project named SeaSide – Developing Excellent Cultural Destination in the Southern Baltic area 2008-2010.” The main purpose of the project is to promote the regions along the Southern Baltic coast through common activities. Staging an international exhibition, developing new tourist products and the preparation of a great atlas, which will be a source of knowledge on maritime heritage, are the three goals the partners have identified – says Holger Bellgardt of the Hanse Sail office in Rostock, the project leader.

The SeaSide project brings together 13 partners, including maritime museums, city halls or local tourist boards. Divided into five components, the project is assumed to generate equal involvement of all the entities in the pursuit of particular objectives. Professional activities are conducted within components 3 – Professional museum network, 4 – Maritime heritage afloat and 5 – Tourism and marketing. The main task of component 3 is to create a cooperation and experience-sharing platform of the four museums participating in the project: The Shipbuilding and Maritime Museum Rostock, The Lithuanian Sea Museum in Klaipeda, the Swedish Naval Museum in Karlskrona and the Polish Maritime Museum in Gdañsk. The joint activities will materialise in the form of an exhibition “Four Countries, Four Stories, Four Viewpoints.” The exhibition presenting maritime heritage of the Southern Baltic is prepared on the basis of four key topics within the framework story – says Jadwiga Klim of the CMM, the Polish coordinator of the exhibition. The exhibition will present sailing ships in the Baltic at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries – the responsibility of the Rostock partners. The Baltic fleet throughout centuries is the task of Klaipeda. The Cold War and its impact on the relations between countries around the Baltic is the subject taken by Karlskrona, while the part prepared by the CMM will be devoted to the achievements of marine archaeology – one of the pillars of its research activities. The exhibition will be shown in Baltic cities throughout 2010: first in Klaipeda (from 15 April, 2010), then in Rostock (from 18 June, 2010), after which it will come to Gdañsk (10 September, 2010). Karlskrona will be the last venue of the exhibition (from 15 December, 2010).

An equally important part of the SeaSide project, connected with tourism and marketing, is the development of new tourist products promoting the assets of South Baltic coastal areas. We know that the Baltic has a well-developed coastline of great diversity – a lot of islands, peninsulas and bays. We have all coast types in the Baltic: lagoons and sandbars, spits, cliffs and even fjords and skerries. The southern coast, most commonly flat and sandy, has excellent, vast, golden beaches and unique vegetation covering the dunes. Beautiful nature and enchanting landscape are a major asset of the region – something already discovered by international holidaymakers and patients, who appreciate the Baltic climate. The weather in this part of Europe is not really what attracts tourists. But they may be attracted by the monuments blending in the Baltic seaports. The coastal areas of Southern Baltic can be made into an attractive heritage tourism destination, mainly by spreading the knowledge of the maritime heritage of the region and by providing good service to tourists – says Katarzyna Nowicka, head of the CMM marketing department. It is the CMM, together with the Gdañsk City Hall, that represents Poland in the SeaSide project. Numerous historical monuments, which are part of the inventory of maritime heritage, may become a strategic element in the development of the Southern Baltic and boost tourism in the region.

There is already a concept for a modern promotion tool for this part of Europe – Katarzyna Nowicka says contentedly. The assets of the Southern Baltic are to be shown and recommended to tourists in the “Atlas of South Baltic Maritime Heritage.” It is one of the largest enterprises within the project, coordinated by the CMM, and a major challenge – adds the head of CMM marketing department and does not conceal the pride resulting from the role undertaken by a seven-strong CMM team. The atlas will be prepared as a website in English and a printed map – an abridged version of the atlas. The map will be an interactive one and it will be possible to find on it historic sites, museums, lighthouses, historical ships and warships, ports and shipyards, natural attractions as well as the timetable of major maritime events, like the Baltic Sail or the Hanse Sail. It is difficult to say at this point how many facilities the atlas will cover, but we know already that the contents will be substantial and numerous photos will be included. The maritime attractions will be grouped in categories and sub-categories and the composition of the atlas as well as the way in which particular objects are to be displayed is the outcome of several working meetings and the discussions then held. Opinions were often split on technicalities, but there was always unanimity on the idea of the atlas as such. The atlas will work not only as a guidebook of most interesting sites of the South Baltic, but as a compendium of knowledge about maritime heritage – says Eckhard Langraf from Rostock.

The attractive, new tourist area that is worth visiting may successfully be advertised throughout Europe owing to the involvement of project partners in activities promoting flagship events like the annual Baltic Sail – a sailing festival taking place in Klaipeda, Karlskrona, Rostock, Gdañsk, Helsingor and Lubeck. The Baltic Sail is aimed at promoting traditional Baltic sailing as a brand product of maritime culture. During the SeaSide project, the partners will attempt to make the Baltic Sail into a brand recognised in and out of Europe.

Can the enterprise providing for joint activities designed to boost competitiveness of the South Baltic region really benefit partner nations? We do hope that nearly 2 million euro worth of project activities will translate into tourists willing to avail themselves of the benefits to be found in the regions on the beautiful Southern Baltic.

Marta Nicgorska

SeaSide Newsletter nr 1/2009