This post is a part of AIRTHplorers series written by passionate people out there, working on their products, projects, and innovations. We have invited them to share their pick of trends and novelties that might be a passion-match for you too!
I am Darija Cvikl, Ph.D. student at UP FTS Turistica. My research field is related to forest tourism, it’s potential, innovation capabilities and main shortcomings, preventing the development of Forest Tourism System. The attractiveness of the forest as a tourist destination and it’s potential for tourist purposes has been underestimated so far. Innovation offered by the ecosystem services, non-wood forest products (NWFP), socio-cultural values (SCV) or tourist forest productions in individual countries are neither valorised nor statistically covered, or managed on the basis of integrated monitoring of tourists and other users (day visitors, recreationists-bikers, athletes sports enthusiasts, hikers, local people, harvesters of edible fruit…). My aim is to encourage and promote Forest Tourism in order to provide the innovative integration by interdisciplinary approach of the development concepts of NWFP and the SCV of the forest from the forestry sector in the field of the attractiveness of the tourist destination.
In this post I will write about the current situation in the field of promoting forest tourism, which could be described as a zero point which is the starting point for planning, developing and promoting innovative tourist forest products. Little has been done in the field of promoting innovative tourist forest products, which can be regarded as non-logical but on the other hand it is a unique opportunity for all countries to be among the first to sysematically create and promote only tourist forest products.
In order to achieve short-term changes and effects, it is important to apply the bottom-up principle to seek for the interested business entities who would include their offer also in tourist forest products. An example of cooperation aiming at encouraging and promoting tourist forest product is our cooperation with a family tourist agency Autentica, carried out in 2017. The goal was to encourage the operation of SMEs in the field of innovative use of the forest natural resource for tourism purposes. Autentica was mainly lacking new, innovative and sustainable tourism products that could be interesting for the market. An inventory of the existing offer of tourism products was made, the applicability of 40 existing practices has been assessed on the basis of the criteria from scientific literature and survey has been done, involving 150 tourists and 150 general users. Six tourism forest products were designed and presented to Autentica. They were all accepted positively. If interested, I can share more details.
When talking about long-term changes and objectives, such tourism forest product should be designed, which will be able to manage tourism forest activity on the basis of innovation and multi-purpose. The most important factors for encouraging and promoting forest tourism is the reinvention of the stakeholders' mindsets and promotion of a forest tourism portal. This refers particularly to all forms of educating forest users and tourism activities associated with the forest. The time frame can last for several years (depending on the intensity of education and financial funds available), as changing the set mindset and operation of various stakeholders is the most difficult. In addition to the reinvention of the stakeholders' mindset in the field of carrying out forest tourism and constant education, good practices outside the test environment should be promoted to all target groups, forest users, decision-makers and local people. Personally, I see a good way to start in creating a forest tourism portal, serving as a global online platform for creating strategic connections among the providers and users, examples of good practice and encouraging the promotion of forest tourism. Until then, I will try to collect and present good practices and inspirations through AIRTHplorers news.
Following the bear footsteps. Source: https://www.facebook.com/pg/pomedvedovihstopinjah/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1327799643980366