All aboard! - Naviratous - An Alternative to Conventional River Tourism
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Off for a cruise on a catamaran on the Canal du Midi: a dream basically difficult to realize if one is handicapped. Naviratous strives to make it come true while respecting the environment.
The Canal Du Midi, completed in 1681, was intended to connect the Garonne with the Mediterranean for goods traffic. It fully performed this role for 200 years. Today, it serves a purely touristic purpose. Indeed, its success means that it is far too popular at certain times of the year. Fifty thousand persons sail every year on board one of the 450 ships, barge-hotels or punts. Not counting a thousand seagoing vessels that take this route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Ultimately, this popularity generates some pollution.
The ingenious Naviratous project doesn’t involve just launching one more ship. This exceptional catamaran, featuring electrosolar propulsion, is completely accessible to persons with challenged mobility. Thirty meters long and 5 meters athwart, capable of accommodating thirteen passengers and four crew members, it sails in silence and without emitting any smoke thanks to its photovoltaic generator. A nature guide helps the passengers discover the canal’s ecosystem.
Using little energy, accessible to handicapped persons, and original, this project has attracted the interest and support of many local and national bodies :
- Agence Nationale pour les Chèques Vacances;
- Région Languedoc-Roussillon in partnership with the Direction de l’Economie Rurale, Littorale et Touristique;
- ADEME Languedoc-Roussillon;
- Délégation Régionale du Tourisme Languedoc-Roussillon;
- Association Française des Myopathies;
- Fondation Veolia Environnement.
More than half of the overall budget of more than 500 000 euros is associated with the amenities and specific equipment of the ship. The 30 000 euro contribution of Fondation Veolia Environnement were allocated to help finance the electrical installations and added funds were received from the regional council of Languedoc-Roussillon and from Ademe (Agency for Environmental Development and Energy Conservation).
A sponsor's testimony : “Deeply respectful of the already delicate environment of the Canal du Midi, this project offers a less elitist tourism, accessible to all. And it also creates two jobs. It appears to have all the ingredients to succeed. Its future success could spark other ideas…” Jérôme Panine, Veolia Énergie.
Despites these effective and announced supports, the company has run into severe financial difficulties and has gone into liquidation on March 2007. A financial 'white knight' was then found to take over much of the company's debt if the initiator of the project, Dominique Renouf, and her new association 'CROISIERES POUR TOUS' (charitable society called 'CRUISES FOR ALL') could raise the remaining 130,000 euros. For people interested in helping out, an ordinary membership of the association costs 30 euro per year, an 'honour' membership is priced at 200 euros and shares of the company are even sold to people willing to invest more.
«Croisières pour tous»
4 impasse du Calvaire, 11 590 Salléles, France
Tél. : +33 6 88 40 76 21