Declaration of Support for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Karst Region Adopted
Afterthought on the Sustainability Conference Tourism – Youth – Future
As part of the event closing the 20110/11 Landscape-of-the-Year Slovak Karst – Aggtelek Karst project, a sustainability conference entitled “Tourism – Youth – Future: Sustainable Development in the Gömör-Torna Region” was mounted at the town hall in Roznava (SK), on 9 September 2011, which ended with the adoption of a joint declaration on sustainable tourism development in the region.
Presentations, panel discussions, a short film featuring the situation of young people, and the opening of a photo exhibition prompted a discussion on sustainable trans-border development in the region among the approximately 100 participants and the high-level speakers from a total of 14 countries.
Having cooperated with partners and stakeholders in the region for over two years, Naturefriends International (NFI), Naturefriends Slovakia and Naturefriends Hungary (Magyar Természetbarát Szövetség) extended an invitation to a closing event to round off the regional development initiative – “Landscape of the Year 2010/11 Slovak Karst – Aggtelek Karst”.
Over the past ten years, non-state organisations and international organisations have campaigned for putting in place cooperation projects in the region, which, in their majority, took the form of nature protection and tourism development ventures. Currently, this peripheral region suffers primarily from a high unemployment rate, while tourism – which to this day has remained one of the few seminal business sectors – is lacking a supra-regional, trans-border marketing strategy. More and more young people are leaving the region to look for job prospects in the urban centres. International Young Naturefriends addressed the issue of regional youth unemployment in the region and presented a 7-minute short film at the Conference.
The Conference, which took place under the personal patronage of Ján Figeľ, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport, Construction and Regional Development, was organised for the purpose of discussing the challenges specific to the region from the sustainability perspective.
Based on the results from conferences, workshops and activities, organised in the region from 2009 to 2011, as well as on the European Commission’s test score of the new ‘Indicator System for Sustainable Tourism Destinations’, Naturefriends adopted a new, joint declaration under the heading of “Roadmap for the Development of Sustainable Tourism”.
Among others, Naturefriends call for stepping up cooperation – in particular by setting up a regional trans-boundary tourism association – but also for infrastructure development with high sustainability performance, for professionalisation and local value creation, inter alia through the production and marketing of regional products; for improvement of the transport situation, in particular of short-distance public transport, inter alia by closing the gap in the trans-boundary railway service; for analysing the ecological carrying capacity, and for the employment of pertinent monitoring instruments especially in the Aggtelek Karst.