During a recent visit to Lake Bled Slovenia’s Minister of Economic Development and Technology reiterated a message often overlooked or seen by many as lip service that tourism remains a vital component in the local economy and, on a wider context is significantly important to the country’s financial prosperity.

The location chosen by Zdravko Pocivalsek to opine that Slovenia’s incumbent administration recognise the importance of tourism to an economy seeking to reduce its exposure to the Greek crisis was a predictable choice, opting for the relatively affluent and stable Bled region in stark contrast to the ongoing turmoil engulfing its near neighbour, Bohinj. Whilst only a few miles separate the two lakeside resorts one is very much the antithesis of the other and subsequently, cater for differing demographics and expectations. Nevertheless, by swerving the Gorenjskan elephant in the room that the parlous state of Bohinj’s tourist accommodation has become, Minister Pocivalsek will not have given the Bohinjci power-brokers any cause for optimism that the spiraling problems caused by the now derelict hotels Zlatorog and Bellevue, along with the uncertain future of Hotel Bohinj, will be arrested anytime soon.

There is perhaps a sense of irony when Pocivalsek places great emphasis on sustainable development in the Gorenjska region – this buzz-phrase inevitably meaning different things to the contrasting settlements in the province that heavily rely on tourism euros(€). Where Bled has for many years allowed several architectural monstrosities to masquerade as hotels the more sympathetic constructs that the Zlat and Bellevue originally were are now entering the aesthetic territory previously the preserve of many of Lake Bled’s fully functioning hotels. Those living in the Bohinj region, two thirds of which falls within Triglav National Park(TNP) territory, will give short shrift to talk of sustainable development when their experiences amount to being prevented from mending storm-damaged properties until a labyrinthine maze of red-tape has been negotiated. If the protection of the natural environment in the TNP and Nature 2000 areas is as important to the government as has been suggested, why has there been no overarching intervention to events in Bohinj but by contrast, €3 million of state aid offered to Bovec’s Municipality to assist in the reconstruction of the ailing Kanin cableway?

I understand that intervening in publically-owned infrastructure projects which the Bovec cableway can now be categorized since it recently became property of the local municipality is completely different to Bohinj’s situation involving a negligent, absentee landlord of the three hotels in question. It does though increasingly seem that Bohinj’s local authority will be left with tightening the screw on Zmago Pacnik, using any applicable legislation at their limited disposal. It is therefore at national level where statutes must be drawn up to disabuse the likes of Pacnik from sweating the assets in portfolios before shamelessly letting them die. It is extremely sad for the Bohinj region that they must act as a test case on which to base future legislation to ensure similar scenarios are never again allowed to develop within Slovenia.

Further reading on this matter can be viewed at:

Dobro Jutro Slovenija: Minister expounds the importance of Lake Bled to local and national economies