More cultural tourism in Lusatia region?

In the EU project SPOT, the IOER is conducting research on new forms of cultural tourism in Lusatia, a region in the south of the federal state of Brandenburg. The research also includes investigations in the case study areas. In October 2020, a team from the IOER surveyed the population in the Lieberose/Oberspreewald district. Initial results are now available.

By Ralf-Uwe Syrbe, Peter Wirth and Bianca Eckelmann

More cultural tourism in the Lieberose/Oberspreewald district? If it were up to the locals, there wouldn't be much to say against it. This is the result of a survey that has recently been conducted as part of the EU project SPOT. In the project, partners from 15 countries are building a joint online platform to help develop new forms of cultural tourism. For this purpose, surveys will take place in various urban and rural regions of the EU between 2020 and 2022. In Germany, parts of Lusatia region form this study area. The scientific work is being carried out by the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER) in Dresden. The IOER is working closely with the Tourism Development Company Lieberose/Oberspreewald (TEG). In October 2020, before the second Corona Lockdown, a research team conducted a survey of the population in the Lieberose/Oberspreewald district. The evaluation is still ongoing, but first results can already be named.

85 people in Goyatz, Straupitz, Alt-Zauche and Lieberose gave the researchers answers to their questions. These revolved, for example, around the relationship between local residents and guests in the region. Additionally, the IOER team wanted to know how the population itself evaluates the cultural offerings within the district and how the Corona pandemic has affected the offerings.

Statements about the number of tourists in the area were to be given on a five-point scale (low to very high). Two thirds of the respondents estimated this as low to medium. However, as many as 26% think the number of guests in the region is high to very high. The memory of the rush in the Corona summer of 2020 may have played a role in this assessment. Despite this differentiated assessment of guest numbers, the answer to the question of how an increase in tourism would be assessed is clear: As shown in Figure 1, the respondents expressed a predominantly positive opinion! 62.5 %, i.e. almost two thirds, consider an increase in visitor numbers to be "positive" or "very positive" and also named specific benefits. Less than a third (28 %) see an increase in tourism as neutral. Only 9.5 % fear negative effects for the region. No one selected the "very negative" response category. The respondents hope that an increase in tourism will lead to improvements in various sectors, including the labour market, traffic development, gastronomy, cultural initiatives, local associations, public finances and many more. Thus, politics and the tourism industry in the district can build on strong support among the population. This has also been proven by the results of further surveys. Hence, only 12% of those surveyed mentioned negative effects of tourism, such as loud parties or garbage, and 76% rated these as low or very low. The willingness to provide guests of the region with information about tourism offers tends to be high.

The interviewees see a large number of potential connecting points in the field of cultural tourism within the district: The castle, the Darre (place/device for drying things) and the churches in Lieberose as well as of Straupitz and Zaue, the windmill and the granary in Straupitz, but also the lakes, hiking and biking trails, the landscape as well as the craftsmen's market and other events in Goyatz are just a few examples for areas that are seen as key points in this regard. The existing cultural offerings are considered to be expandable. Figure 2 shows how the respondents assess the importance of cultural sites and attractions in the district. Unless corona restrictions impede tourist activities, the respondents believe that the greatest potential for developing the area lies in cultural paths and trails, historical sites, gastronomy, as well as local traditions and folklore.

Finally, the survey dealt with the impact of the Corona pandemic. It has had a major impact on life. Last year, the usability of all cultural offerings was limited or completely discontinued. In this situation, tourist paths and trails as well as visits to towns and villages with their architectural features gained in importance for locals and guests alike. In 2020, individual respondents were more active in the district (e.g. by bicycle) and dedicated more time to history and traditions.

Background

The EU project SPOT (Social and Innovative Platform on Cultural Tourism and its Potentials for Deepening European Rapprochement) is carried out within the framework of the EU funding program Horizon 2020. In the period 2020-2022, case studies from 15 European regions will be examined in a large network. Cultural tourism is understood as a type of travel that combines recreation with getting to know the cultural attractions of the destination regions. Until now, the focus has been set on so-called "high culture" (i.e., opera, theatre, galleries or museums), which is primarily found in cities. Nowadays, rural regions with their personalities, events, sights, (cultural) landscape attractions and historical heritage are increasingly coming into focus. In the Lusatia region, the IOER team is investigating how the unique cultural landscape can be used for tourism and sustainable regional development. The scientists, together with local stakeholders, are also looking for new ways to make cultural tourism economically viable for the surrounding communities. Ideas and strategies that may emerge from this process will be incorporated into the project platform.

Further information on the SPOT project

The article was first published in the "Mitteilungsblatt für das Amt Lieberose/Oberspreewald" (No. 3/2021, Friday, March 5, 2021).

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This institute is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.