The Horsepower Economy Project

PferdIn March 2005, IHK-Projektgesellschaft mbH based in Frankfurt (Oder) launched a tourism-related project called “Horsepower Economy”. This unique project, implemented in Pro Europa Viadrina Euroregion, is designed to support equestrian tourism SMEs in the cross-border zone, which is MOL – Märkisch-Oderland, LOS – Oder- Spree, Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany and Lubuskie Province in Poland. The exceptionality of this project lies mainly in focusing on the development of international tourism structures, as well as Polish and German co-operation in the field of equestrian tourism.

This project, scheduled for two years, is co-financed by the European Union through INTERREG IIIA and it focuses on the priority “developing small and medium-sized enterprises”.

At the stage when the plan was being developed, as well as during project implementation, the following objectives emerged:

- Long-term support for equestrian tourism enterprises
- Help and support for enterprises in the development and improvement of tourism opportunities in broader co-operation with:
 -- Other equestrian tourism clubs and other tourism providers
 -- Tourism and marketing institutions/organizations
- Developing transboundary co-operation and a network of collaborating equestrian clubs
- Increasing the importance of equestrian tourism as a sector of economy and at the same time increasing the importance - of the Oderland region as an area with well-developed equestrian tourism opportunities

In order to achieve these objectives, many activities, training sessions, promotional campaigns etc. are organized.

You will find some examples below:

Advertising plays a significant role in tourism, however it is expensive. Therefore one of the tasks is to support the marketing activities of all equestrian tourism enterprises which ask for support and which participate in the project. Within the framework of Public Relations, advertisements of riding clubs from this region have been put up in an equestrian travel catalogue.

A brochure is currently under preparation, and so is the www.reiten-ohne-grenzen.de website which presents horse riding clubs, their tourist attractions and tourism opportunities in the region.

With the purpose of dissemination of the project, and therefore of the equestrian tourism offerings of the Pro Europa Viadrina region, the offers are regularly presented at tourism fairs. This responsibility has been taken over by the tourism associations operating in the region, which are partners to this project.

In the nearest future we plan to place advertisements or advertorials in travel magazines to turn the attention of tourists, not only from this region but from all over Germany, to the unique charm of the Pro Europa Viadrina region. The speciality and the greatest asset of the region for the equestrian tourism market is the opportunity offered to holidaymakers to spend active horseback vacation on the both sides of the border.

The publication of a bilingual, Polish-German equestrian dictionary titled “Pferdefibel” and the development of our website are aimed at fostering international relationships and co-operation, as well as at disseminating tourism offerings both in Poland and in Germany.

In order to reinforce equestrian tourism enterprises on the tourism market, a number of actions are implemented to improve the skills of their owners and co-workers. To this end, workshops, training seminars and conferences are held regularly, focusing on veterinary and medical issues, legal and economic aspects, as well as on the economy in general. These activities should facilitate and eventually enable the creation of information and co-operation networks, regional co-operation, as well as international co-operation. Moreover, these activities are aimed at improving the quality of offered tourism products and services.

Computer skills training, on the other hand, will make it possible for those companies which publish their offer on the internet, to update their websites on their own and to introduce necessary changes.

As the project will close in March 2007, it is necessary to create such structures which will constantly, even after project completion, foster the continuation of initiated activities and further development of equestrian tourism in the Pro Europa Viadrina region. To this end, we are planning to set up an association which will bring together equestrian tourism enterprises from both Germany and Poland, as well as other tourism-related service suppliers, such as hotels, caterers, blacksmiths, tanners etc.

The experience and co-operation base created under the project ought to make it possible to establish structures and organizations or reinforce the existing ones to actively and consistently acquire new customers, and owing to ever better products and services they will also attract those customers to the region and to the proposed attractive opportunities.