The development of pilgrim paths in Västra Götaland
Great interest in pilgrim paths and other trails
Walking in Sweden and in Västra Götaland has become very popular and there are more and more international tourists who come to the region to walk the various paths here. There is a need to coordinate work with walking paths in Västra Götaland Region, and we have now started to develop cultural paths and coordinate this with the region's pilgrim paths.
Several of the medieval paths in Sweden have been listed and signposted and new routes have been added, which contemporary pilgrims are walking. The quality of the paths varies, however, and several services such as food and accommodation centres need to be improved along many of the sections of the paths to meet the needs of walkers.
Västra Götaland's regional cultural plan for 2016–2019 states under Development of Cultural Attractions that efforts must be made "to develop cultural walks in Västra Götaland and coordinate this work with the region's pilgrim paths."
Preliminary study - a first step in the process
A first step in the process of coordinating the various actors involved in the work with pilgrim paths in VGR took place in autumn 2016, when a preliminary study funded by the Culture Committee in Västra Götaland Region was started. The aim of the preliminary study is to put together an up-to-date list of the players working with the paths, look at how the jobs are allocated and the quality of the path sections, how to best develop the pilgrim paths and the need for coordination. The preliminary study will culminate in a proposal for how we can safeguard the paths in the long-term and bring them up to international standards.
Västarvet's investment in natural and cultural tourism
The preliminary study shows the need for coordination of work on walking paths in Västra Götaland Region. From 2016 onwards, Västarvet has been given the commission by the Culture Committee in Västra Götaland Region to be the coordinator for the pilgrim paths within the region and to develop natural and cultural tourism. The development of the region's walking paths will be carried out in collaboration with the Tourism Council of West Sweden. We are now starting the long walk...
On the go in the project
During the autumn of 2016, Västarvet and the Tourism Council of West Sweden listed 400 kilometres of pilgrim paths in the region. During the winter we will compile exciting stories from the areas around the pilgrim paths near the Göta Canal and Ätradalsleden. Communicating the unique history of these places, connecting the past with the present and highlighting the values involved is one way of kindling interest in the paths and attracting new walkers. The paths are included in the Sustainable Product Development project at the Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.
The Tourism Council in West Sweden has also begun to work with some sections of the walks to create products connected with stay-eat-do to increase services along the paths.