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Forest innovation potential

Darija Cvikl, University of Primorska / Higher Vocational College for Hospitality and Tourism Bled
Cvikl, D. (2018). Forest innovation potential. In AIRTH Encyclopedia of Innovation in Tourism and Hospitality. Retrieved: <insert-date>, from http://www.airth.global


In 2004, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development defined forest as the complete ecosystem type as the only one among the existing ones (land, cities, seas, islands, mountains, polar areas, coastal areas, land waters, cultivated land) ensures the use of all ecosystem services[1]  and represents one of the natural sources of capital in tourism[2]. Multipurpose and sustainable forest management with an exploitation of all its ecosystem services is a hot issue today, which appeared in WCED strategic document in the eighties of the twentieth century already. Forest provides economic and non-economic benefits of each ecosystem service. On the other hand, tourism is one of the most important sectors of the global economy and it is considered one of the rare propulsive industries in the modern world. In 2015 tourism generated the income in the total amount of USD 1400 billion[3], employing more than 235 million people and covering 10% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). However, according to the literature, forests are not exploited enough for tourist purposes in the sense of taking advantage of the potential of its social and cultural values (SCV) and non-wood forest products (NWFP) in general. Traditional forest management practices are focused mainly on wood products. On the other hand, the promotion of sustainable principles and NSD (New Service Development), IRT (Integrated Rural Tourism), and endogenous regional policy are opening up new development opportunities and models of forest economy management, particularly in the field of taking advantage of the potential of SCV parameters and NWFP products in order to develop Forest Tourist System

Relevance for innovation

Innovation is an important factor in the success of the company[4] which enables the creation of new added value[5]. An important finding that links professional knowledge in innovation and the tourism profession with forest tourism is that the development of innovation in forest tourism enables product and service, process, management and marketing innovations. Forest tourism is not yet recognized as a tourist category; the term forest tourism has hardly begun to be used in professional literature (with the exception of Chinese and Japanese literature)[6]. Innovative tourist products within the use of the forest tourist function and designing of forest tourism can result in higher recognisability and competitive advantage of a tourist destination. The defined guidelines of the new development investment based on creative destruction[7] and inventive thinking will allow the tourism sector to open new development opportunities and innovative markets. An important argument in favor of the development of the forest tourist function is its natural beauty of scenery and applicative existing tourist practices (of recreation, harvesting, education, well-being..). Forest offers tourism forest activities with related motives and examples of a tourist service or product[8] (Cvikl, 2018). Innovative development and use of the tourist function of the forest totally comply with all important world development documents[9]. Utilisation of forest for tourist purposes is important mainly due to the following reasons ([6], 513):

  1. It encourages sustainable development, integrated rural development - IRT Integrated Rural Tourism) and NSD (New Service Development), multipurpose and nature-friendly management, green growth and endogenous regional policy, rural development, and cross-border cooperation potential.
  2. It strengthens the recognition of a tourist destination and opens new markets.
  3. It does not impede wood-oriented production – on the contrary, they are compatible.
  4. Forest is an ecosystem type where products are available all the time.
  5. It allows for strengthening SCVs of forest parameters and within those also recreational and tourist function of the forest, important for the public good of citizens, visitors, tourists, and travelers.
  6. It allows for the creation of new green jobs.
  7. It encourages environmental sector.
  8. It encourages the demographic structure of the local environment and prevents negative demographic effects.
  9. It increases gross domestic product – GDP based on income, generated by new tourist products and services.
  10. It encourages numerous opportunities also for other industries and fields - in the area of the development of infrastructure, agriculture and rural areas, higher quality of life, a connection at the local, regional and national levels.
  11. It represents a high potential for the promotion of green tourism.

Relevance for tourism

Forest tourism has not been defined scientifically nor valorized sufficiently in spite of the fact that forests and forest land have been used for recreational purposes for a long time and that tourist function of the forest is complementary with other uses of forest areas, the awareness and wishes of forest users to spend free time in green environments are increasing. Closest terms to forest tourism in meaning are woodland tourism[10], forest well-being tourism[11] nature tourism[12], nature-based tourism – NBT / forest tourism (FT)[13], tourism and recreation of land use (TR activities)[14] were reviewed. Moreover, the term tourist forest products have not been established either, although they can be recognized in term non-wood products, which is used mainly in literature dealing with forest management.

The main shortcomings, preventing the innovative up-to-date forest management for tourist purposes are [6]:

  1. Lack of knowledge about the potentials offered by forest habitat for tourist purposes.
  2. Too few or nearly no scientific research concerning the potential of forest use for tourist purposes. Most research has been conducted in the field of recreational and aesthetic use of forest and landscape, but such research shows only two of numerous ecosystem services offered by forest habitat within the tourist function.
  3. Too few or nearly no research concerning the understanding or response of the modern tourist to the tourist use of the forest.
  4. Ecosystem services, NWFP, SCV or tourist forest productions in individual countries are neither valorized nor statistically covered or managed on the basis of integrated monitoring of tourists and other users (day visitors, recreationists, hikers, local people, harvesters of edible fruit).
  5. Traditional and single-purpose and centralized forest management.

On the basis of economic, environmental and social benefits that it can provide, tourism should not be regarded as a marginal but as a central activity of sustainable forest management (Martin, 2004, 1). The definition and assessment of the impact of factors on the tourist attraction of the forest represent a new starting point for the definition of a new tourist destination, new tourism forest products, and forest tourism. According to the United Nation World Tourism Organization – UNWTO protection and existing management practices, renovation and promotion of sustainable management of land ecosystems are the prime objectives. It is necessary to create the basis for designing multi-purpose managing of forests for tourist purposes. Implementation of key steps is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Preserving, advancing and implementing management processes of the forest ecosystem services for tourist purposes key steps [6].

Given the fact that forest management practices in most countries are based only on wood oriented production, it is clear that the inclusion of non-wood production will require a lot coordinated action. The goal of such management and use of forests for tourist purposes, which includes, in particular, the utilization of the NWFP, is reflected in the increase of fees and contributions in use and utilization forest NWFP and SCV, as well as in improving human health and general well-being. Realizing this goal will only be possible after the redefinition of legal bases, innovative and sustainable approach and increase the specific use of forests for tourism purposes, as China has done in 2001, which had twice the number of forest parks by 2009 than in 2001. In order to establish sustainable multipurpose forest management, it is important to know and take into account the impact factors on multi-purpose forest management shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Factors influencing multifunctional forest management for tourist purposes ([6], 515).

The relevance of defining forest as attractive tourist destinations as well as potential tourist source for the tourism industry is significant. In order to establish the foundation for implementing multipurpose forest management, it is necessary to [8]:

  1. Define tourist forest attributes as a first scientific definition of the tourist characteristics of the forest as a natural tourist capital source.
  2. The definition and assessment of the impact of factors on the tourist attraction of the forest will be a new starting point for the definition of a new tourist destination, tourism forest products, and forest tourism.

The novelty in the approach to defining the concept of the forest as a destination is also reflected in the innovative integration of the development concepts of non-wood forest products (NWFP) and the socio-cultural values of the forest (SCV) from the forestry sector in the field of the attractiveness of the tourist destination. Such approach could be useful for tourist providers operating in the woods or near forest areas around the world, as well as organizations managing forest areas, planners and strategists of tourist destinations and decision makers who decide to invest in the development of destination management, and furthermore in marketing of forest tourism as a new tourist category.



[1] Steiner, Achim; McCormick, J. Steven; Johnson, Ian (2004, 5). How much is an ecosystem worth? Assessing the economic value of conservation, USA: The World Conservation Union - IUCN. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/THE WORLD BANK 1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433.

[2] Kušen Eduard (2002). Tourism and the Destination Region Classification of Tourist Attractions. Institut za turizam. Zagreb. // Ruzzier, Mitja, Žujo, Jasmina, Marinšek, Miha, Sosič, Samo. (2010). Guidelines for the economic evaluation of ecosystem services in protected areas of nature. Development of guidelines under the NATREG project. Managing Natural Assets and Protected Areas as Sustainable Regional Development Opportunities in the pilot area Pohorje. Source: http://www.natreg.eu/pohorje/zakljucna-predstavitev-rezultatov-projekta-natreg-na-pilotnem-obmocju-pohorje. // Zorondo-Rodriguez Francisco, Grau-Satorras Mar, Kalla Jenu, Demps Katie, Go´mez-Baggethun Erik, Garcia Claude and Reyes-Garcia Victoria. (2015, 3). Contribution of Natural and Economic Capital to Subjective Well-Being: Empirical Evidence from a Small-Scale Society in Kodagu (Karnataka), India. Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015.

[4] Omerzel, Gomezelj Doris. (2015, 517): A systematic review of research on innovation in hospitality and tourism", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 28 Iss 3 pp. 516 – 558. Emerald Insight at www.emeraldinsight.com/0959-6119.htm.

[5] Hassan in Malachovský, Andrej, and Királová, Alžbeta. (2015, 395). International Conference on Strategic Innovative Marketing, IC-SIM 2014, September 1-4, 2014, Madrid, Spain. Invigorating the Destination´s Marketing Strategy? (The Case of Slovakia). Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 175, pp. 393 – 400.

[6] Cvikl, Darija (2017). Multipurpose forest management for tourist purposes – focus on non-wood products (NWFP). Modern management tools and economy of the tourism sector in the present era. International Thematic Monograph – Thematic Proceedings, Belgrade.

[7] Zach, Florian, and Krizaj, Dejan. (2017, 2). Experiences through design and innovations along touch points (EDIT). Design Science in Tourism,  pp 215-232.

[8] Cvikl, Darija (2018, in press). Perception of a Forest as a Tourist destination. International Thematic Monograph.

[9] For example in Slovenia with the current Slovenian Tourism Development Strategy, the Forest Act, Environmental Protection Act,  NAMVS,  MCPFE 2015 guidelines, Promotion of Balanced Regional Development Act (ZSRR-2), and other regulations.

MCPFE - Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. (2015). Forest Europe, 2015: State of Europe’s Forests 2015. Source: http://www.foresteurope.org/docs/fullsoef2015.pdf.

MCPFE - Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. (2003). Vienna resolution 3: preserving and enhancing the social and cultural dimensions of sustainable forest management in Europe. Fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Foresta in Europe. Vienna, Austria. MCPFE, 28-30 April. Source: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/sdpfe/sdvol84num1.html.

UNWTO – United Nation World Tourism Organization. (2015). Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals.

UN - United Nations, (2005). Natural Assets and Human Well-being. Statement of the Board of Millennium Ecosystem Assessment – MA.

MA - Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005). Living Beyond Our Means. Natural Assets and Human Well-being. Statement from the Board.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2004). How much is an ecosystem worth? Assessing the economic value of conservation, USA: The World Conservation Union - IUCN. THE WORLD BANK 1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433.

[10] Martin Suzanne. (2004). Leisure landscapes: understanding the role of forests and woodlands in the tourism sector. Forest Research Annual Report and Accounts 2003–2004. Report to Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

[11] Konu, Henna. (2015). Developing a forest-based wellbeing tourism product together with customers - An ethnographic approach. Tourism Management, No.49, pp. 1-16. Esevier Science Ltd.

[12] Bell, Simon; Simpson, Murray; Tyrväinen, Lisa; Sievänen,Tuija; Pröbstl, Ulrike. (2007).Outdoor Recreation and Nature Tourism: a European Perspective. Living Reviews in Landscape Research, p.p. 1 – 46.

[13] Bayliss, Julian; Schaafsma, Marije; Balmford, Andrew; Burgess, D. Neil; Green, M. H. Jonathan; Madoffe, S. Seif; Okayasu, Sana; Peh, S.-H. Kelvin; Platts, J. Philip; Yu, W. Douglas. (2014). The current and future value of nature-based tourism in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. Ecosystem Services, 8, p.p. 75 – 83.

[14] Williams, M. Allan, Shaw, Gareth. (2009). Future play: tourism, recreation, and land use. Land Use Policy 26S, S326–S335.







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