The Great Reset is a term that has been bandied around for the last year, primarily in the wake of and to some extent the continuation of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Seen by many as more a basis for what conspiracy theorists have presaged for years than a coordinated global response to Covid-19 and the prospect of future viruses, it is arguable that a desire to ‘reflect, reimagine, and reset’ our world was contrived with indecent haste, insomuch that it was foretold and promulgated only a few months after the pandemic became an everyday part of worldwide life.
Leaving aside any alleged stratagems arising from the virus’s provenance, the rapid development of several vaccines, and a Bilderberg-esque subterfuge that the pandemic was a contrived event for purposes yet unknown, maybe never so, how the planet reacts collectively, nation by nation, and with individual responsibility will be instructive when/if future events of a similar magnitude once more threatens humanity’s very existence. From what I can see, albeit in my locale, is that the only thing we have learned is that nobody has learned anything, to instead revert back to and seemingly with greater urgency, living as if we are in the last days of the Roman Empire and for one’s self, also known as to hell with everyone else.
It is a variation on this so-called great reset that alpine regions such as Slovenia’s Bohinj will anticipate a surge of visitors, and potentially negative changes to behaviour which pre-pandemic were already much in evidence. As travel became easier and signposted by countless Instagram ‘influencers’ the likes of picture-perfect Bohinj have become tick box locations for many tourists who have little care for the locations they visit, other than to say that they have ‘been there’.
As though standards of personal and collective conduct have plummeted in tandem with notions of self entitlement reaching new heights, a pause in tourism has been both a blessing and curse to the usual hotspots, along with those becoming trendy to visit. A cessation in mass movement has denied many areas of vital revenue, but also given the environment and many of those who work in locations such as Venice, Dubrovnik, Slovenia’s Lake Bled and yes, Bohinj, too, time to breath and reevaluate how tourism can be recalibrated without biting the hand that feeds it. The curse is perhaps though yet to come, when a stampede of visitors with cabin fever and pent up frustration of having their wings clipped are no longer held back by travel restrictions and social distancing. There was already an escalating challenge for Bohinj to counter the wholly negative effects of mass tourism, but with the prospect of some future visitors behaving post-pandemic as if there will be no tomorrow, extra measures, both imperceptible and conspicuous, will have to built in to protecting the lake and its reaches on top of existing and emerging legislation.
I would love Lake Bohinj to resemble the hushed, idyllic scene I first encountered in June 1999, but as mobility has become far easier and foreign travel more accessible to a greater percentage of the population, this is no longer realistic. That standards of behaviour, respect, and selflessness have nosedived in the intervening years, ironically as we are told to be a more tolerant, inclusive society, does though present a greater challenge and threat to pristine but fragile environments than the actual spike in numbers of guests travelling to these locations.
It doesn’t matter if we talk about Lake Windermere, Wolfgang, or Bohinj – the issues remain the same. Chemicals leaching into the water from sun cream, dog (and human) faeces, degrading plastic and other litter, and a leave-it-behind-for-someone-else-to-deal-with attitude transcends borders and nationalities. How these and other universal issues are dealt with will vary on a case by case basis, but a wariness of upsetting people must be overcome for the greater good, including for responsible and respectful visitors whom about it is now difficult to say whether they number a minority or majority.
Specific to Lake Bohinj, some excellent work has already been undertaken to counter an almost default reliance on private vehicles. Park and ride facilities away from the lake that enables guests to be bussed in to Ribcev Laz and/or Ukanc reduces the amount of cars parked, legally and otherwise, in close proximity to the lake, where charges for using official lots and penalties for those who actively avoid them being prohibitively expensive, and rightly so.
The rocky, primeval northern shore of Lake Bohinj is a wonderful antithesis to modern life, although a proportion of its tree cover has in recent years been lost to a bark beetle infestation. This though does not preclude visitors from a wonderful experience of abundant nature, comparative seclusion, and during and after periods of heavy rain – the impromptu Govic cataract. It has though in more recent years been plagued by those who think they can cycle around Lake Bohinj, which you unequivocally cannot. Many secluded beaches are dotted along the shoreline, but it is not yet clear if these will be included with those where bathing both in and out of the lake will be prohibited. I am though very pleased to learn that ordinances outlawing the use of bicycles along the lake’s northern section will be strengthened, albeit mitigated by improved cycle paths between Ribcev Laz and Ukanc, adjacent to the road and southern shoreline.
There are though several outstanding issues arising from these and other attempts to protect nature and Bohinj’s overall visual amenity, which may be more difficult to resolve. Many in today’s society have adopted a ‘nobody tells me what to do attitude’ which translates as a perceived inalienable right to do as they please, regardless of regulations which dictate otherwise. There are also those devil’s advocates who are motivated by being contrary, not through belief in any particular cause, just or otherwise, but by being completely indifferent to rules in which they see no sense, and to deny any notion of respect for authority, others, and the environment. How these attitudes will be dealt with and any sanctions enforced will rely on a greater number of Triglav National Park wardens, and those employed by Bohinj’s municipality.
There is nowhere quite like Lake Bohinj, and although that blatantly states the obvious it has a unique, rarefied air of its own when compared to other lakes in the Alps that exist in close proximity to tourism infrastructure. That the local authorities will not bow the knee to tourism, nor class the areas as as ‘resort’ gives great cause for optimism as to how the challenges of increasing visitor numbers, at times poor behaviour, and Climate Change will be confronted head on. With an almost collective reboot of several of the area’s formerly preeminent hotels, I doubt there is currently a region of the European Alps where a trend for allowing the tail to wag the dog is being so openly opposed, instead of merely paying lip service to the many challenges of our time.
Source material and further information:
It is surprising to report that tourists are not the only ones blamed for mistreating and disrespecting Bohinj and its surroundings: