Slovenia’s Bohinj region has this last few months made the headlines for the wrong reasons, undermining the many unique attributes that favourably sets it apart from the neighbouring resort of Bled. An ethos reflecting the tight rein held by the Triglav National Park(TNP) authority, the environmental watchdog tasked with overseeing two thirds of the Bohinj Municipality, has come under fire for stymieing modest but sympathetic development and making everyday life intolerable for residents merely seeking to mend storm-damaged properties, the process of scything through impenetrably layers of red tape adding oxygen to accusations that the TNP wish for its territory to resemble nothing more than an unoccupied wilderness.
The parlous state of tourism in Bohinj has seen several of its high-profile hotels not only deteriorate but resemble ghost-ships foundering on the rocks of greed and mismanagement. Recent reports drawing attention to a petty impasse between the Municipality and the operator of one of the two electric boats plying the waters of Lake Bohinj reveal the vast disconnect between the local authority and the private sector, a scenario far from uncommon in countries previously yoked to Communist principles. In an attempt to extol the virtues of the local area in the face of so much negativity, the Bohinj Tourism Office has conceived the brand ‘Bohinjsko/From Bohinj’ to highlight the diverse culinary and tradecraft traditions handed down between generations, customs still relevant today to the wider area and deemed worthy of greater exposure. Branded products carrying the trademark guarantee high standards of quality and embody locally sourced expertise, ensuring their status as the genuine article that bear the mark of geographic authenticity, often previously imitated but never bettered by regional impostors.
A message of harmony between man and his environment forms the cornerstone of a concept formulated to demonstrate a sustainable future is possible for both parties in such a fragile environment, something the actions of a few have sought to bring into question by shamefully sweating tourism assets until there is nothing left to plunder. The irony will not be lost on local residents and foreign observers that whilst the TNP’s impassable bureaucracy helped facilitate a seemingly inadvertent managed decline of the area, the owner of the Zlatorog and Bellevue hotels was able to oversee the unchecked destruction of both properties, whilst ordinary Bohinjci wishing to respect the TNP’s draconian legislation are shackled by the very laws drafted to protect them and the area in which they live.
Whilst the ‘Bohinjsko/Bohinj’ initiative is to be applauded, it represents a mere step on a long road of redemption the region must undertake, the need having rarely been greater for all the area’s stakeholders to sing harmoniously rather than discordantly from the same song sheet.
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