Partneriat for SMEs took place on 22–23 October 2020 at Zhemchuzhina (‘Pearl’) tourist facility in Losevo, Priozersk District of Leningrad Region which was the COVID-19 “yellow” zone at that time, where it was possible to carry out an event provided that required preventive measures were observed (responsible part: ITMO University). Partneriat is intended for the development of comfortable environment and packages of high-quality services for bicycle tourists taking the routes of the BizCycle project.
A total of 64 participants were involved, with 52 attending the event in person and 12 joining it online (among them project partners from Finland, including Ekaterina Gorelkina (Cursor Oy), Sergey Balandin (Fruct Oy), Raitis Sijats (Latvia), speaker and EuroVelo 13 Iron Curtain Trail coordinator, representatives of Leningrad Region Committee on Tourism, including Olga Golubeva, Deputy Chair of the Committee, Elena Rybachek, specialist, and entrepreneurs who were unable to attend the event in person). 40 representatives of small-sized businesses attended the event in person. Project partners, speakers and business coaches were also joined by Ekaterina Bocharova, Head of the Department for Prospective Destinations in Tourism, Deputy Head of the Administration of Vyborg District of Leningrad Region, as well as representatives of cycle communities, media and tourism-related portals.
Raitis Sijats reported on changes that happened in Latvia after the marked cycle routes appeared. He spoke about whether new businesses were formed, new jobs created, the number of tourists increased, whether municipalities experienced any inflow of revenues, which services were in most demand, how the routes were marked and which funding sources used.
A report concerned with the promotion of successful business along the arranged cycle routes was made by Ilya Gurevich, Honourary Chairman of the VeloPiter Bicycle Community, Director of VeloPiter, LLC – organiser of bike tours in dozens of foreign countries, – and author of guides devoted to Leningrad Region and Finland.
In the afternoon, Partneriat participants split into groups supervised by moderators/business coaches in order to create a turnkey service package for the BizCycle routes. Following productive teamwork, each team presented their service package.
Group 1. Environmental Route – 50 Lakes
Moderated by Elena Reutova, TEAM Consulting Group, LLC, Consultant.
Group 2. Sea Route
Moderated by Evgeny Mironov, TEAM Consulting Group, LLC, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Group 3. Historic Route
Moderated by Ilya Gurevich, VeloPiter, LLC, Director.
All groups worked and reported on their results very efficiently. However, the Sea Route presentation was particularly expressive and creative, and the team won by the narrow margin of votes.
TEAM Consulting Group, LLC carried out a range of free personal legal consultations on the second day morning. Entrepreneurs were interested in the following topics:
- advantages of a certain form of incorporation for businesses,
- legal aspects of self-employment,
- property rights for land and its use for various kinds of business,
- interaction with state and municipal authorities,
- COVID-19-related safety and control measures.
A round table concerned with the establishment of the “B2C” SME Association in Tourism and Hospitality took place as part of Partneriat.
Participants gave good feedback on Partneriat. Everyone particularly liked working in groups, as well as highlighted legal consulting with gratitude. All participants managed to build up business ties and continue their communication in the BizCycle Partneriat chat created by the Lead Partner to the project based on the WhatsApp platform to ensure communication between participants, organisers, moderators, speakers and project partners.
On 4–5 October 2020, a promotional tour was carried out in Vyborg District for tour operators, tourism professionals, media, representatives of cycling clubs and cycling industry of St Petersburg and Leningrad Region.
Participants of the promotional tour had an extensive programme, which included a bike tour with some walking, visits to historical sites, presentation meetings with the project partners and many other activities.
On the first day, 4 October, participants took a bike tour around Vyborg, visiting its key sights, including the Vyborg Castle, the Panzerlaks Bastion and the Alvar Aalto Library located along the Historic Route developed within the BizCycle project. Participants then went for a ride around Vyborg District to visit the Iloranta farm, Goncharovo and Perovo villages, covering over 20 kilometers in one day!
In the evening, a meeting took place with project participants and partners from the Russian side. The following speakers made reports:
- Olga Dosuzheva, ITMO University, project lead partner;
- Amira Amirova and Olga Sokolova, Tourist Information Centre of Leningrad Region;
- Inna Klimova, Head of the Vyborg branch of the Tourist Information Centre of Leningrad Region;
- Irina Sherstneva, head of the Sports Department of the Committee for Sports, Culture and Youth Policy of the administration of the Vyborg District municipality;
- Alexei Redakov, Chairman of the Leningrad Regional Federation of Cycling;
- Elvira Altsagirova, Head of Programmes and Tours of the Farm of Joy (Ferma Radosti) Family Tourism Centre.
The second day of the promotional tour included bike tours with some walking along several routes. The first route included a ride across the Iloranta facility, Gvardeiskoye and Ovsovo villages; the second route passed through the picturesque KiviPark Nature Reserve.
Promotional tour map:
An environmental campaign in which volunteers cleaned part of the Historic Bicycle Route took place on 4 October 2020 to raise awareness about the project, healthy lifestyle and care about the environment, and to promote cycle routes developed within the BizCycle project. The campaign took place under the auspices of the Tourist Information Centre of Leningrad Region.
Volunteers cleaned the area along the part (10 km) of the Historic cycle route arranged within the project. Over 150 kg of waste were collected and delivered to a landfill. 20 young volunteers from environmental organizations participated in this environmental campaign.
Feedback on the event (original text):
“BizCycle environmental campaign took place on 4 October in Vyborg District of Leningrad Region and involved young volunteers from environmental organizations. A 10-km cycle route was cleared of various kinds of waste. During the environmental campaign, people did not only fulfill the task perfectly well, but also talked to each other, shared their knowledge and plans, and made new acquaintances.
Daniil, one of the permanent campaign participants, shared the following impressions:
“Today’s campaign is a kind of networking when we can combine communication with an important job. Such events make many guys and girls who come for the first time change their minds regarding nature protection and activities of environmental organizations, and they better see why we need such things. And when our communication grows into an open discussion about everything, we see how people change their attitude to everything we do and to what they also start doing. You understand that it is very cool! This empowers you and brings you new friends and fun! I would like to thank the organisers for inviting such different people. I believe it was very interesting for both experienced environmentalists and new-comers. Arrange more campaigns like this, and we will take part with great pleasure!”
Now the BizCycle cycle route can be called environmentally friendly!
On 29 August, 2020, Salpa Line Bike March and cycling competition were organized in a Kotka-Hamina region within the BizCycle project. The event was devoted to the 80th anniversary of legendary defensive the Salpa Line's construction passing through the municipalities of Virolahti and Miehikkala. 168 participants who came from different cities of Finland passes the 80, 40, 30 and 15km distances. The time was tracked only for 80 km distance.
Participants of the cycling march included both the professionals and amateurs of cycling tourism. Professionals noted the diversity of the landscape and the almost complete lack of traffic. Amateurs also appreciated the picturesque forest landscapes, rural idyll and many historical sites along the routes.
The Virolahti Bunker Museum, the Salpa Line Museum in Miehikkala, as well as about 200 bunkers, 10 caves and 65 kilometers of anti-tank stone barriers make the area near the Salpa Line attractive for cyclists both from Finland and Russia. The Salpa Line Bike March got very positive feedback from the participants, and the event is supposed to be organized in the future, in an international format.
A current state of SMEs in hospitality and tourism, as well as developing of cycle tourism in the Leningrad region, within the framework of BizCycle project, was monitored to form most effective model of cross-border bicycle tourism in the Leningrad region.
- Executive summary on the survey of the cycling tourists (Download)
- Executive summary on the survey of representatives of SMEs in tourism and hospitality industry and managers of attraction facilities (Download)
- Executive summary on the survey of representatives of travel companies (Download)
- Executive summary on the study of the positive international experience (Download)
- Executive summary on the development of recommendations and activities for cycle tourism (Download)
Student conference “Design and development of tourist cycling routes” was held as a part of Bizcycle project on 26 September, 2019 in IBC “Victoria”, Vyborg. Participants of the conference were youths, ITMO University and other university students, representatives of Vyborg district administration.
Presenters of the conference were: Golubeva O.L., Head of Tourism information center of Leningrad region, Mouromtsev D.I., Project Manager of Bizcycle poject, Redakov A.V., Chairman of Regional Federation of Cycling, Kozeychuk D.A., representative of IntelMedia, Leskova G.A., Head of the Department of Tourism and Social Cultural Service of the St. Petersburg State Institute of Culture and Arts.
Participants of this conference also took part in the seminar “Successful entrepreneurship in cross-border cycling and ecotourism” for SMEs and listened the speech of well-known Michael Cramer. In addition, they visited stadium "Favorit" and listened a lecture about professional cycling , and someone even rode around a velodrome with athletes.
We visited the Farm of Joy or “Ferma radosti” in the village "Prudi", Vyborg District, on 26 September. Ferma radosti is located in an old Finnish farmyard and lurked in the forest. We got there by bus. The peasant farm produces and offers delicious meat and dairy and vegetable products. However, our goal was to find out the additional services that a big farm family provides for bicycle tourists and ecotourists.
Gracious hosts, in addition to farming, study and preserve Russian and Finnish folklore, ethnographic material: games, dances, songs, family traditions and customs of the 19th century. Moreover, they hold visiting workshops, traditional folk festivals and craft schools. At the farms visitors can familiarize themselves with traditional domestic animals like cows, horses, goats and birds. The most favorite animal of the visitors is a horse called Rozochka.
Ferma radosti offers summer guest houses, places for camping and outdoor activities. Elvira Alzagirova showed how they meet guests, encourage them to social active games in a folk style, sing and dance in a ring. Folk songs and dances were performed for us and accompanied on the gusli, which were custom - made.
They treat us to delicious hot herbal tea and we tasted homemade dairy products: cottage cheese, cheeses, milk, sour cream, as well. Problems, such as lack of workers, still exist in the farm. In general, business is booming, ecotourists visit the farm; there are also regular customers who leave rave reviews. We left the farm in a cheerful mood!
As a part of BizCycle project, participants of the seminar “Successful entrepreneurship in cross-border cycling and ecotourism” visited the colleagues who are successfully undertaking an activity in cross border cycling and ecotourism.
Entrepreneurs were the guests of the Individual Entrepreneur Kalinina Lyudmila Gennadevna in Vyborg on 25 September. They visited byurger’s homestead “Usadba byurgera” or house of a noble citizen. This medieval house was built in the middle of the XVI century. “Usadba byurgera” is located on the oldest street in Vyborg - Progonnaya Street 4, on which in the Middle Ages cattle were driven to pasture, hence the name of the street.
Employee of the house, in a medieval costume, showed how they usually meet and entertain tourists. Moreover, she talked about history and legends of this place. They were glad to treat everybody to Vyborg pretzel, cooked according to old recipes, and a hot non-alcoholic glogg. “Usadba byurgera” has a souvenir shop that offers handmade goods made in Russia, mainly in Vyborg, Vyborskiy district. Chinese-made products have been abandoned a long time ago. Cute rag dolls, knitted toys, unique paintings, clay products, birch bark, glasses. The suppliers of these products are mainly people of pre-retirement and retirement age that is important in terms of pension reform. The entrepreneur, buying their products, creates conditions for older people to earn extra money and helps to feel in demand. Moreover, tourists can get really high-quality original souvenirs from Vyborg.
Tourist Information center, mini-hotel are also located in the byurger`s house. They are organizing interactive tours of the house for adults and children, guided tours of Vyborg and its surroundings. Business successfully is developing using local history and resources. All the guests took as a gift amazing, colorful brochures.
The Seminar "Successful entrepreneurship in cross-border cycling and ecotourism" was held in Vyborg on September 25-26, 2019. A.Aalto Library, with its unique architecture and panoramic views to the autumn park, has hospitably opened its doors for the participants of the seminar.
Participants of the seminar were representatives of SMEs undertaking their activities in the field of hospitality and tourism from the Leningrad region and the Kotka – Hamina region of Southeast Finland, as well as representatives of the Administration MU “Vyborg district” of Leningrad region and Vyborg Entrepreneurship Support Center.
The seminar was organized within the framework of the BizCycle project to help entrepreneurs to establish cooperation in the field of cross-border cycling and eco-tourism in the regions of the project, to share positive business organization experiences, good ideas, and to draw inspiration. To achieve above goals, famous speakers with unique experience and knowledge were invited. The seminar program was interesting and eventful: presentations, lectures, and a round table.
Rimma Sachunova, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Tourism of the Leningrad Oblast, addressed welcoming speech to the audience and spoke about the work carried out by the committee to develop tourism in the Leningrad region and support SMEs. The budget for 2019 includes funds for the additional equipment for three ecological paths, works in a number of natural areas, restoration of plaques, road signs, information boards, and land clearing. “Green parking” will be created, where cafes, souvenir shops, parking lots for tour buses and cars, sanitary zones, will be located. Equipped camping will appear for tourists traveling by personal transport. A competitive selection is held annually in the Leningrad region, to provide subsidies to non-profit organizations implementing projects to create a comfortable tourist environment in the region. Entrepreneurs can get a subsidy from the regional budget for the creation of guest houses.
Dmitry Mouromtsev, Project Manager of the BizCycle project, spoke about the goals and objectives of the project. The main task of the BizCycle project is to create information services by which cycling tourists can comfortably travel in the Leningrad Region and Southeast Finland, using the services for SMEs, that will positively impact of the economy of regions of the project.
Invited speaker, Ilya Gurevitch, Honorary Chairman of the VeloPiter Bicycle Community, a successful entrepreneur, author of guides and bicycle traveler with a wealth of experience, shared his ideas and observations with the participants on the lecture “How to make your business attractive for cyclists. (Useful Travel notes)”.The participants of the seminar learnt what types of cycling tourists are, what do they need when following a route, how entrepreneurs from different countries successfully create and develop their business in the wake of an increasing interest in cycling ecotourism and a healthy lifestyle. According to participants, Ilya Gurevich`s presentation was very valuable, fascinating, full of facts and ideas.
The representative of the project`s partner, President of the FRUCT Oy Association, Sergey Balandin gave a presentation “The role and mission of ICT services for hospitality and touristic SMEs, bicycles and ecotourists”. Не admitted that BizCycle project is developing a CycleAdviser service that will help travelers to plan routes in the Leningrad Region and the Kotka-Hamina region of Southeast Finland, through the services provided by small and medium-sized businesses.
Ekaterina Gorelkina from the CURSOR Oy Company, that is a partner of the BizCycle project, gave a presentation “Business development experience for cycling and ecotourism in the Kotka-Hamina region, Finland”. In the summer of 2019, a press tour of the Kotka-Hamina region was held, as part of the BizCycle project, where participants highly rated the cycling routes, cultural heritage objects and accommodation facilities.
The second invited speaker was Michael Сramer, who spoke about his observations and the development of the business environment while following the EuroVelo13 - Iron Curtain route. Michael Сramer is an experienced bike traveler, member of the European Parliament (2004-2019) and the European Green Party, the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (2014-2017). Youth and students of St. Petersburg universities, who were the participants of the conference “Development of Tourist Cycling Routes”, also visited the seminar. The speech of such a respected person, widely known for his love of ecology and cycling, who made an invaluable contribution to the cycling movement, impressed and inspired the audience. Moreover, despite his age, Mr. Kramer continues to be active and travels by bicycle.
During the seminar, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TIM Consulting Group LLC Yugene Mironov and the consultant Elena Reutova gave a presentation concerning the guide for entrepreneurs “Methodological guidelines for SMEs undertaking an activity in cross border bicycling and ecotourism”. The methodological materials were developed and published for the BizCycle project. Speakers talked about their work on the materials, the basic sections of the methodological materials published in Russian and Finnish languages, and answered the listeners` questions. All the participants received copies of publications.
Yury Pavlov, from the nonprofit organization “Department for the Development of the Transport System of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast”, also was a presenter in the seminar. Не spoke about the Cycling Project and an integrated approach to the development of cycling in the border regions.
At the end of the seminar, a round table was held where the necessity of creating an association of small and medium enterprises of hospitality and tourism to ensure the sustainability of cycling and ecotourism in the project regions was discussed. A declaration with the goals and objectives of the association will be posted on the website and social networks of the project for further discussions.
All participants of the seminar received as gifts from the BizCycle project guide for entrepreneurs “Methodological guidelines for SMEs undertaking an activity in cross border bicycling and ecotourism”, a map “Alexander Bicycle Route”, a brochure about the project that were published as part of the BizCycle project, as well as gifts from partners, guests of the seminar, lecturers, participants: the map of the bicycle route “EuroVelo13 - Iron Curtain” (from Mr. Kramer), the guides “Cycling routes of the Leningrad Region” and “Cycling Trips Abroad” (and torus - Ilya Gurevich), R1 route map from a partner Cursor Oy project, brochures of entrepreneurs (participants of the seminar).
At the end of the seminar, the participants expressed their desire to join the project, to take part in its further activities, to create a comfortable environment together for cycling and ecotourism, to develop sustainable cycling and ecotourism in the region, including the creation of a non-profit partnership (association) of entrepreneurs, and to use IT tools, developed as part of the BizCycle project.
- I.Gurevitch. "How to make your business attractive for cyclists. (Useful Travel notes)" (Download)
- S. Balandin. Discussion on the role and mission of ICT services for hospitality and touristic SMEs, bicycles and ecotourists (FRUCT Oy) (Download)
- Е. Gorelkina. Business development experience for cycling and ecotourism in the Kotka-Hamina region, Finland (CURSOR Oy) (Download)
- Y. Pavlov. The Cycling Project. An integrated approach to the development of cycling in the border regions. (NPO «Directorate for the development of the transport system of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region”) (Download)
- М. Cramer. EuroVelo 13 Iron Curtain Trail initiative (Download)
- Е. Mironov, Е. Reutova. Methodological guidelines for SMEs undertaking an activity in cross border bicycling and ecotourism. (Consulting group “Tim”) (Download)
As a part of the BizCycle project, methodological materials were developed and published for SMEs undertaking or planning to undertake an activity in cross border bicycling and ecotourism.
Methodological materials were published in russian and finnish languages and provide tips for entrepreneurs on issues related with visa and migration support for foreign tourists, infrastructure development, legal aspects of cross-border organized cycling, providing medical assistance to victims, as well as recommendations on organizing additional services to attract bicycles and eco tourists following the route. The materials also contain information on social and economic measures to support entrepreneurship of hospitality and tourism.
On September 26, 2019, the presentation of methodological materials took place and the first readers of publication were participants of the seminar "Successful entrepreneurship in the field of cross-border cycling and ecotourism” which was held in Vyborg on September 25-26, 2019.