Inland waterways provide more opportunities for the conservation and improvement of the environment and the provision of amenity, sports, and recreation, facilities than do any other means of transport. The demand for more space for leisure pursuits is world-wide, and is accompanied by a growing appreciation of the need for environmental quality and conservation of Nature in catering for this demand. Thus in seeking solutions to related leisure, environmental, energy, and transport problems, authorities everywhere are coming to recognize the unique potential of inland water in meeting the concerns and wishes of modern society.
Britain, with an unparalleled exclusively amenity waterways network, leads the world in the amenity development and utilization of inland waterways. The United States is broadening its objectives to encompass amenity development within the framework of traditional commercial-priority development of its waterways. Canada has launched the most sweeping and spectacular amenity waterway corridor development in history. France has begun actively to promote ‘tourisme fluvial’, while the Netherlands is progressing with integrated planning to harmonize the interests of commercial navigation with recreation and Nature conservation. The projected waterways link between the North and Black Seas has fostered amenity waterway development by all states along the Danube. Russia, too, is beginning to cater to the requirements of increasing numbers of water-oriented leisure seekers. Many other countries, including Portugal, are looking to the development of navigable waterways for leisure pursuits to help solve mounting national problems.