Dugi otok – synergy of nature, tradition and cultural heritage
On 4 February 2016, the Sustainable Tourism Plan of Telašćica and Dugi otok Nature Park was presented at the multimedia hall of Sali Municipality on Dugi otok. Tourism is not sufficient for itself but needs to be in service and in the benefit of the destination it is in, to respect the local identity, historical legacy and natural resources because it relies on it. With that in mind, they started planning sustainable tourism on Dugi otok.
The implementation of the action plan will directly generate new jobs and indirectly increase the employability of the surrounding population through increased demand for products and services in the area of Dugi otok.
Among other things, the Plan envisages the establishment of a Visitor Center in the area of Nature Park, the establishment of a local museum, the thematic educational paths, the promotion of local production by providing product placements, the improvement of existing manifestations (Saljska užance, Medicinal herbs, Sali cultural nights…) by enriching their content and incorporating of all the actors in tourism in tourism activities to enhance the experience of tourists on the Dugi otok, but also enla a ge greater contribution to the local community, and of course all with the aim of generating local development and economic well-being for all local communities of the island as a tourist destination.
The expected results of the implementation of the plan are also to improve the number and types of tourism infrastructure and increase the level of satisfaction of using it, establish sustainable waste management and establish a system for monitoring energy and water consumption, increase the overall experience of destination and increase the percentage of active participants in the tourism sector in planning and development of destinations as well as in joint projects and activities. Only by strengthening the cooperation of all actors of the tourism sector on the island can we achieve sustainable tourism and in the long run realize a common vision of sustainable tourism of Dugi otok.
The presentation presented the importance of the development of sustainable tourism of the island, the Mayor of Sali Zoran Morović, the director of the Public Institution Nature Park Telašćica Nikolina Baković, coordinator of SEA Med project from Sunce Milena Šijan, head of the Department for Protected Areas of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nature Danijel Springer and a member of the Telašćica Nature Park and Dugi otok Park, Erik Šešelja.
Namely, the creator of this Plan is a Collaborative Council that was established through the SEA Med Project and the Together for Nature and the Environment Project with the aim of involving local stakeholders in planning and future management of both the Nature Park telašćica and the Dugi otok Island as a tourist destination. A great contribution to the creation of this strategic document was given by WWF Adria (Zeljka Rajković), Sunce Association (Milena Šijan and Zrinka Jakl) and Institute for Tourism (Hrvoje Carić).
Experiences in the Process of Creating the Plan
The plan was designed with the inclusion of everyone who was interested in this process. However, experience has shown that it is very difficult to motivate people to actively participate in activities related to sustainable development planning.
The fact is that for quite a long time the local population has not been thinking about their opinions in the decision-making process, which has affected today’s indifference in trying to be involved in decision-making. As any change in society requires a certain period of consciousness maturity, it takes work and time of the Collaborative Council to send the message to the local population to understand how their thinking and action can have an impact on the development of the environment in which they live in.
We assume that the first visible results are needed and that they will in the future bring a different attitude of the local community and a more active engagement in the work of institutions through the Collaborative Council or other forms of voluntary groups of the local population. In this way, the full potential of the role of this council in the development of the local environment would have come to its full potential. Despite the current challenges, it is important that such initiative calls and acknowledgment of the opinion of the local community are being launched, and the results will come with time.
For the first five years of joint work, we are waiting for us to carry out what we have planned for the Plan and set a solid foundation for the next period, all for the benefit of the island and all those living on it and from it.