Bohinj’s municipality based in Bohinjska Bistrica have unanimously given the thumbs down to the Triglav National Park’s draft Management Plan and have called not only for a more favourable plan but also an amendment to the TNP’s constitution.

Two thirds of the Bohinj region lies within the protective boundaries of Triglav National Park, the central core in which Lake Bohinj sits being the most heavily protected of all the territory it covers. There are though anomalies that occur on the shores of the lake, such as an abandoned fishery and custodian hut on the northern, pedestrian-only side. Having also witnessed an increase in litter in this area and several ignorant tourists attempting to use bicycles(which are prohibited) on the at times rocky pathway, I am yet to see any wardens from the TNP patrolling the area, they instead, unrealistically, seem to rely upon visitors to police themselves. As we know regarding most laws in life, be they countrywide or unilaterally enforced bylaws many citizens will only obey rules and regulations they actually agree with or suit them.

Whether Bohinj’s ruling municipal council and its incumbent mayor Franc Kramar carry sufficient weight to precipitate a compromise or volte face from the TNP is difficult to say. It is though unimaginable to think that common ground cannot be found between the two parties but change is obviously needed, especially when quotes from the meeting include those wishing for “a normal life” and the current TNP strictures making it “impossible to survive” for some members of the community.

The TNP’s natural default setting is to think first and foremost of the fragile ecology of the area and how man can harmoniously coexist with his beauteous landlord. Bohinj seems to strike the right balance between tourism and commercial agriculture but in recent times the tourism sector has stalled, with visitor numbers and overnight stays plummeting. It is undoubtedly true that hotel accommodation within the Bohinj area isn’t good enough, both quality and quantity being sadly lacking. The economic downturn has left a protracted hangover throughout Slovenia and its ski areas in particular have suffered. It is though somewhat of a paradox that the Vogel ski area above Bohinj continues to buck the national trend, benefiting from a cableway that is popularly used almost twelve months of the year. The economy though has seen the demise of the once lauded Hotel Zlatorog and the denudation of the equally iconic Bellevue, famous not only for accommodating Agatha Christie but for also the unparalleled views of the lake and Triglav it commands from an advantageously elevated position, only minutes above the comparative bustle of Ribcev Laz. Being owned by the same proprietor both the Bellevue and Zlatorog have suffered from dining out on past glories and having their assets mercilessly sweated without appropriate, measured levels of inward investment to ensure their continued viability. With both these either being shut or offering the appearance of being so, a large amount of bedrooms that once were available to tourists are no longer so. This really lends the question: aside from Bohinjska Bistrica and further still at Lake Bled, where do large groups of travellers stay in Bohinj? In a recent blog post I touched upon alternative accommodation, many of which merit nothing but complimentary evaluations. However, they just don’t total enough in number of establishments or aggregate bed-spaces to make anything but an apologetic ripple on the local economy.

I am firmly of the opinion that the area should make the best of what it already has, primarily by completely renovating the Bellevue and Zlatorog sympathetically with their unique surroundings. I feel this though could have happened under the existing TNP management plan and has really only failed to materialise thanks to the mismanagement of both establishments. The real crux of the argument between the Bohinjci and the TNP is how far the draft plan should be relaxed and where compromise will meet consensus. Should a certain amount of brand new accommodation be built and if so, where? Should the eastern shores be developed, on land currently used for traditional farming? Is it practical to build on the southern side of the lake between Pod Voglom and the Church of the Holy Spirit without the immediate area being environmentally ridden roughshod over? Is the western side of the lake, close to Zlatorog’s carcass an area ripe for development or should the whole vicinity of Lake Bohinj be left alone, notwithstanding the regeneration of the Bellevue and Zlatorog?

Other alternatives are to build further out from the lake, between Ribcev Laz and Bohinjska Bistrica. These areas such as Zlan, Polje and Kamnje are settlements dominated by the rural economy, with the occasional property offering modest lodgings or self-catering. Great, shining edifices built as monuments to 21st century progress within the tourism industry will certainly look out of place in such areas and will only financially benefit the fortunate few, rather than the communities in which they could reside. Despite falling numbers amongst its visitors the road between Bled and Bohinj can at times be unpleasantly busy, not aided by a train service that terminates at Bohinjska Bistrica. Is it practical to extend the line to a point far nearer to Lake Bohinj than it currently does, improving mass-transit links and shrinking the area’s carbon footprint?

As you can see and hopefully sympathise with, I can only surmise regarding the many talking points and quandaries presumably prolonging many of the Bohinj municipality’s council meetings. Their responsibility as custodians of such an area places a great burden upon them and the shoulders of the Triglav National Park. On the one hand the residents and business owners have their interests to be best served, while the TNP seeks to ensure it remains as untouched as is possible in modern times. Whilst international partners might be necessary to transform parts of Bohinj’s antiquated overnight accommodation, does the area wish to go down this route? It is a given that things need to change but I for one am very glad to not be one of those whose decision-making the very future of the area will be defined by.

Further reading on this subject can be found at: Gorenjski Glas: Bohinj rejects TNP Management Plan