Bohinj mayor Franc Kramar, who, in some quarters has been accused of exaggerating the perceived disastrous effects the recent fire at the Ribcev Laz-based Hotel Jezero could have on the area, has called upon Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar and the ministers for Economic Development & Technology and Environment & Spatial Planning to meet him to discuss the irrefutable deterioration of the region’s tourism profile.

Bohinj’s inner core which centres upon its eponymous lake has been described as being both blessed and hamstrung to be within the most protected area of the Triglav National Park – bureaucratic red tape making new construction projects but also routine and vital repairs to existing properties virtually impossible. It is without doubt that in the age of rampant commercialism from which alpine areas are far from immune, such levels of environment guardianship of an area characterized by wild outstanding beauty are increasingly rare, and, should be cautiously welcomed. With though the albeit temporary demise of the Jezero adding to the area’s woes caused by the materially deteriorating state of hotels Zlatorog and Bellevue, both of which having long since closed, Bohinj sees its ‘big three’ and hitherto foremost tourist traps out of commission for an indeterminate period. Much has been previously written on the seemingly negligent custodianship of hotels controlled by Zmago Pacnik and Japec Jacopin, who both simultaneously and quite coincidentally recently placed their properties on the market for amounts that far exceed their realistic value, several of which are rotting husks of their former selves. What though has become both inexcusable and inescapable has been the inertia, lip service and hand wringing from those tasked with promoting Slovenia as the clean, green, and friendly country to visit that it undoubtedly is. Would the Triglav National Park (TNP) authorities prefer for Bohinj to be a relatively unvisited wilderness? Maybe. Does it though think that leaving the rotting edifices of both the Bellevue and Zlatorog to tarnish the lasting impressions of visitors is in any way consistent with the highhanded approach it takes with those wishing to sympathetically build or renovate within territory it controls? I am not disputing that these are hotels are in private ownership; under current legislation the state has little legal recourse to intervene. The TNP does though carry significant weight and whatever its thoughts areGorenjski Glas – Bohinj on the levels of tourism in the Bohinj region it would regard as ideal, surely the time is now for it to take its concerns to the very top of Slovenia’s government. With power comes great responsibility.

Mayor Kramar will argue with some justification that Bovec, the northwestern frontier resort has received significant state aid to reboot its ailing cableway – a facility deemed by the government to be vital to the areas tourism identity and long-term viability. Although the differing circumstances between Bovec and Bohinj are pronounced the impact their problems have caused to the tourist trade in both, and continue to do so in Bohinj, reflect the vital facet each has to play in their respective local economies. Whilst Kramar will wish for direct state intervention in Bohinj a blank cheque to buy out both Pacnik and Jacopin is highly unlikely to materialize, in what would set a precedent many other struggling hoteliers in the country might wish to exploit. It would instead seem that a change in statutes that can ultimately seize neglected properties is a more realistic course to plot, serving as the ultimate consequence to levying greatly increased business rates on owners’ ultimately unwilling pay more for less. Making life uncomfortable but within the bounds of the law for those loosely termed as hoteliers could force their hands into expeditious disposal of their properties, at a realistic market value currently deteriorating by the day. As a last resort the state could take possession of hotels to be renovated and resold but should such a scenario come to pass another significant period of time will have elapsed, ensuring Bohinj’s problems won’t be solved any time soon. There is also the issue of Slovenia currently being concerned with shrinking the state, rather than burdening itself with further assets it may struggle to get off the books.

Although the dramatic conflagration that consumed part of the Jezero’s roof and upper floor required over 100 firefighters at its height, this well-run and respected establishment expects to be fully operational by May Day bank holiday, a projected timeline that wouldn’t have been foreseen on the night of the blaze. Such diligence proves that solutions can be found for even the most labyrinthine of problems should the stakeholders and those with a vested interest have a clear roadmap to achieve a commonly held objective. If the fire at the Jezero has any positive consequences, it will prove that the impossible can be swiftly achieved in Bohinj should the will and perspicacity be shared by those with the power to effectuate change.

Source material courtesy of Andraz Sodja at Gorenjski Glas – http://www.gorenjskiglas.si/article/20170114/C/170119889/1011/zupan-kramar-vabi-cerarja-in-ministra-v-bohinj-