Lake Tourism Development in Utena County
Research background. The biodiversity of lakes makes them important as natural resource for tourism. Lakes all over the world are used as a resource for ecotourism, natural tourism, leisure tourism and they attract millions of tourists. The use of lakes for sports, entertainment, swimming, fishing, etc. is of great importance to the public. There are 2833 lakes larger than 0.5 ha in Lithuania. Utena County has 35% share of all Lithuanian lakes larger than 0.5 ha. So this is a very important region of lake tourism development in Lithuania. Research aim. The object of the research is bigger than 0.5 ha lakes of Utena County, and the research aim is to analyse lake tourism development in Utena County. Methods. Scientific literature, web sites, legislation on lake tourism and recreational activities on the lakes and in the lakeshore, ArcGis software programme were used as references for writing the article. There are 1001 lakes, bigger than 0.5 ha, in Utena County. Since there are a great number of lakes, in order to distinguish their patterns, lakes were grouped into 7 area classes: 0.5–1 ha; 1.1–5 ha; 5.1–10 ha; 10.1–50 ha; 50.1–100 ha; 100.1–500 ha; > 500 ha. Articles distinguish the most important criteria of lakes tourism development: lakes morphometric parameters, lakes accessibility of roads, landscape structure of lakes. The marphometric parameters, used in the present paper, were taken from the Catalogue of Lithuania SSR lakes (1964), while bathymetric parameters were taken from list with bathymetric data (1964). To determine the accessibility of lakes, ArcGis10 software was used. It was worked with GDB10LT database (updated in January, 2008). The data of lakes was taken from layer “Areas”. This layer of lakes was recovered with layers of “Roads” and “Railways”. Seeking to assess the accessibility of lakes by roads of various types, search for roads was implemented at the radius of 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 metres around lakes. The paper sought to determine the landscape structure of Utena County lakes. The distribution of forests, swamps, grasslands, residential areas and other landscapes in lake shores was analysed. These landscapes were analysed in buffers, drawn at the radius of 500 m around lakes. Forests, swamps, residential areas and other landscapes were taken from GDB10LT layer “Locations”. After drawing the buffers of 500 m radius around lakes, the area of forests, swamps, residential areas and other landscapes was calculated. Results. The research data shows that the most common lakes in Utena County are small lakes, less than 50 hectares (881 lakes). There are 29 lakes larger than 500 ha in Lithuania. Utena County has 69% share of all Lithuanian lakes larger than 500 ha. It is very important for development of recreational activities because the bigger the lake – the greater the opportunity to deploy it. Utena County has 374 lakes (37%) where you can use self-propelled boating means (area more than 10 hectares) and 60 lakes (6%) (larger than 200 hectares) where you can use more high-powered boats. The water motorcycles can be used just in the Alausas Lake. Based on the morphometric lake parametres – area and average depth, lakes, suitable for pikes (45% of all the lakes explored), crucians (36%) and breams, pike perches (18%) predominate. There are all types of roads near bigger than 0.5 ha Utena County lakes at a distance of 500 m – motorways, asphalted roads, gravelled roads, unsurfaced roads and railways. The research data shows that gravelled roads (30% of all lakes can be reached by these roads) and unsurfaced roads (41%) predominate. There is a tendency that the bigger a lake is the greater variety of road types within a radius of 500 m it has. Forests, grasslands, populated areas and swamps are nearby the lakes of all area classes at a distance of 500 m. With the increase of a lake area the number of lakes on the shores of which there are swamps, areas covered by grasslands increase, the number of forests decreases. Nearb the smaller lakes the bigger percentage of the shore territory is covered with forests and other landscapes. The typical Utena district lake (> 0.5 ha) in a 500 m radius from its shore will have the following landscape structure: 60% of grasslands, 36% of forests, 3% of populated areas, 0.1% of swamps and 1% of other landscapes. The lakes near the forest are important for recreation. With the increasing size of lakes, the areas on the shores of lakes covered by forests and grasslands also increase. Populated areas are near all bigger than 500 ha lakes and the majority of lakes of other classes. There are populated areas having fewer than 20 people near all the lakes bigger than 500 ha, towns are nearby 7% of such lakes. Almost 90% of Utena County tourism enterprises are not further than 500 meters from the lakes. Tourism enterprises clusters are located at the lakes of Alausas, Rubikiai, Sartai. Conclusions. The research data shows that lake area, accessibility by roads and lake landscape structure are important factors for lake tourism development. In large lakes there are possibilities to organize boating with motorized or non-motorized boats, sailing, swimming, fishing, diving, etc. Recreational activities on large lakes are more diverse and attractive than the ones small lakes. Large lakes of Utena County are better accessible of different types of road. Large lakes landscape structure is more diverse and attractive. The small Utena County lakes are more suitable for the development of eco-tourism and large lake (area > 50 ha) – for mass tourism (just 10% of Utena County lakes).
Keywords: lake tourism, lakes’ morphometric parameters, lakes’ accessibility by roads, landscape structure of lakes.