Curonian Spit Heritage Tourism Strategy

Here you will find a summary of the Curonian Spit heritage tourism strategy. You will find the document as a whole by clicking on the link below.

From the conservationists' point of view, the aim of the management measures is to highlight the general spatial structure of the cultural landscape featuring the coexistence of man and nature, and the distinctive expressive panoramas and silhouettes from the side of the Curonian Lagoon.

Each new phase, each period, and each new socio-economic trend create a new challenge to preserve the values for which this landscape was UNESCO-listed. On the other hand, the landscape is appreciated not only for its cultural, but also for its natural heritage values, especially the highest mobile and grey dunes. These values also need to be actively protected.

Key Area for Sustainable Tourism Development

A common Soviet legacy provides an important transboundary co-operation framework for both national parks established nearly simultaneously. Also, from the perspective of the south Baltic regional development, and from a broader European perspective, the Curonian Spit is seen as the key area for sustainable tourism development.

Hence, if properly managed, it could be transformed into a flourishing hub of transboundary sustainable heritage tourism on a regional scale. In order to achieve this aim, however, there is an acute need to establish mechanisms for overcoming differences in conservation and heritage management in Russia and Lithuania practiced and enforced by the staff of the national parks and approved by the relevant state bodies.

It is important to strengthen the transboundary connections to express cohesion in the landscape and to further develop the cultural landscape as part of the World Heritage. Therefore, the planning process touches problems which can be solved only by a joint transboundary economic, social and environmental planning and concerted efforts in the whole area.

Joint Management Forum

For practical purposes, a joint World Heritage Site management plan will be inevitably implemented separately by each national park directorates in Lithuania and in Russia. However, the review of its implementation could and should be organized and directed by a joint Management Forum. In any case, the planning of the transboundary World Heritage Site will strongly rely on the previously established relationships and co-operation among the national park managers in Lithuania and in Russia.

Sustainable heritage tourism can help to maintain the dynamic balance between the natural and human environments on the Curonian Spit. However, it is a very intricate and complex issue. The current tourism development patterns in the Curonian lagoon region are characterised by the enormous disproportions regarding their geographical distribution.

Smiltyne is the most frequented tourism area on the spit with over 2 Mio. annual visitors. But these are only day-trippers visiting the Maritime Museum and the seaside beaches. Other areas on the Curonian Spit have a much less share in provision of tourism services. There are also very huge disproportions in terms of the distribution of tourists over the year, as mentioned before.

Collaborative Network

Sustainable tourism planning and management occur in the changing society, characterised by different individuals and groups, differing value systems, erratic and often conflicting interests. A strategic priority should be to create a collaborative network that could include all essential stakeholders in heritage and tourism management.

The heritage wardens typically cherish and promote 'scripted themes'. These themes concentrate on upholding the authentic Outstanding Universal Value regardless of its tourist appeal or interest. Meanwhile, many visitors and local tourism businesses prefer 'enterprise themes.' These themes focus on place-related myths and on the commodified tourist appeal, which is not necessarily associated with the authentic Outstanding Universal Value.

Sustainable Heritage Tourism Strategy for the Curonian Spit