Tourism in Slovenia
For tourism to become a sustainable enterprise, local populations must be able to participate throughout the planning process. But external intervention is also needed at points when the community are not able to come to agreement. These conclusions come from Slovenian Alenka Verbole in her thesis Negotiating Rural Tourism Development at the Local Level - A Case Study in Pisece, Slovenia, for which she was awarded a PhD on February 15th
Developing tourism is often seen as an attractive way out of an economic slump, a logical idea in Slovenia, a mountainous country with a stretch of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Formerly the wealthiest of Yugoslavia's six republics, Slovenia's economy has now taken a downturn, as a result of its current double transition period. Not only did it recently become an independent state when it broke away from former Yugoslavia in 1991, but its economy is also in transition towards a free market
In a country like Slovenia where so much is in transition, one development model will never be sufficient, Verbole claims. She is particularly concerned about the fact that development plans can often bring more negative than positive effects to the local population: Tourism is more than building hotels and attracting people.
An in-depth case study of a rural southeastern community called Pisece, Verbole's thesis aims to understand how tourism development can be planned taking sustainability into account. My experience in the village was that a lot of people didn't know what was going on. If you don't belong to the right networks, then you can forget about having any influence on developments. It's all about power. Verbole noticed two main divisions. Either you're Red or you're Black. Red, if you were a former communist, or are now even slightly leftist. Blacks are the staunch churchgoers, who embrace traditional values. These divisions influence every facet of the community, even down to which pub people frequent
In the case of Pisece, people were united only in their belief that tourism could save their village from economic stagnation. Some people wouldn't even talk to each other, and it was only through the outside intervention of the university that people could be brought together to discuss how tourism should develop there. Her observations motivated Verbole's final conclusion that both bottom-up and top-down approaches are needed in planning. Am.S