Natural tourism can be a sustainable way for many areas to combine tourism and nature conservation. Slovakian officials have realized this and ordered a concept for natural tourism in Slovakia. Finally, the document was published. The concept was developed by a team of professionals, and summarises their extensive experience in the field of natural tourism, which many of them have been focusing on for several years.
Please also read: The challenges of Nature Tourism in Wilderness
Priority of natural tourism
The document highlights that the focus of natural tourism must be nature. This means that the natural balance of species, communities, processes, landscapes, natural phenomena and the atmosphere must be preserved. To implement natural tourism in Slovakia, it is necessary to balance an authentic experience, learning about nature, as well as supporting local communities and their culture.
There currently is a trend of rethinking the traditional methods of administration and management in government and education. Also, an increasing prioritization of sustainability in economic sectors is not just a short lived fashion, but it stems from a real change in our value system. The wide public, supported by science, demands new solutions. This also applies to tourism and visitor management. It is obvious that many current practices, which are focused on short-term exploitation, are less and less relevant in today’s world. These current practices are not only losing relevance, but can also be harmful to nature. Countless studies and researchers have proven this over the last years and decades and demand new solutions. Natural tourism is one way towards a more sustainable tourism industry – an industry that is still growing rapidly.
Experience from Slovakia
Natural tourism has been identified as an important way forward in Slovakia years ago. It is a primary tool for achieving a turnover and mediating a real economic alternative. Natural tourism has significant potential for developing poor regions and it can even reverse unfavourable demographic trends like rural flight.
Nature tourism has to eliminate the negative impact of people’s presence in nature and contribute objectively to protect the environment and improve living conditions. It has to a be real economically and ecologically sustainable alternative to the development of regions, especially those that are today categorized as least developed,
During the process of developing a concept for natural tourism in Slovakia, it quickly became apparent that not all random tourism activities implemented in the natural environment can be considered as natural tourism. Clearly, some of these activities have an adverse effect on the natural environment. Uncontrolled activities often exceed the carrying capacity and ecological tolerance of an area. Further on, they often do simply not bring benefits for local communities. Instead, large companies from other parts of the country or even other countries get all the revenue. In this case, these activites are just another form of unsustainable use of the region’s natural resources.