Tourist destination management – an example of good practice

first_imgAustrian “Zagorje”Imagine a continental region (tourist destination) of 1.145 km2, with 103.000 inhabitants, 79 municipalities and 4 subregions (districts), in which the largest city has 4.614 inhabitants. There are no companies with more than 300 employees in the region, no high mountains suitable for winter and summer tourism, but there are no large arable lands because it is intersected by hills… Upon joining the European Union, the competitiveness of small agricultural production and secondary related activities deteriorated sharply. The future was not bright.Cooperation – coordination – actionThen one mayor in the relaxed atmosphere of a local inn in the company of colleagues said they had to do something… Thus began the revival of the economically weakest Austrian region – Lower Styria where the average gross salary ranges between 1.820 and 1.890 Euros (Austrian average around 2.500 Euros).LAG – development and branding agencyThey founded the LAG – Local Action Group funded by municipalities. At the head of the LAG is Mag. Michael Fend, an experienced leader with a lot of volunteer experience in humanitarian actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and a Croatian son-in-law. The LAG has crystallized a vision of development based on all the resources of the region, which are viewed in a negative and positive aspect. They decided to brand themselves as the “Land of Volcanoes” because a large volcano was active in the area millions of years ago, the outlines of which can still be seen today. Material evidence of such a past is the composition of the soil as well as thermal water. Volcanic earth gives birth well, the volcano represents progressiveness, activity, so such a “brand name” is gladly accepted. “Vulkanland” is positioned as a gastronomic region, a region of crafts and handicrafts, a region that preserves its culture of living and which has decided to become energy independent by 2025.This was followed by active work on EU funds, but also on connecting stakeholders in agricultural production and processing of agricultural products. Thus, 70 wheat-producing farms have teamed up with one mill and bakeries to produce regional flour from which regional bread is produced in order to achieve a better and guaranteed purchase price of wheat. Other farmers are encouraged to process or to cooperate with local processors. This is how the famous producers of prosciutto and dried pork “Vulcano” were born, then winemakers (one of the most famous is Thaller), producers of brandy, liqueur and vinegar (Golles) and many others. The processing of agricultural products is presented as “Culinary Products”, ie high-value products for gastronomy. Today they have 63 producers under the brand “Steirisches Vulkanland”, then 52 craftsmen, 30 centers for the renewal of life energy „Quality clubsNew “quality clubs” are constantly being created. Thus, 26 households that arrange gardens were interconnected. They socialize with each other, exchange experiences and hold “open days”. They annually organize 112 various events on the topic of horticulture and make 20.000 visits. They are mainly engaged in tourism, and on that basis they achieve better results.Photo: sagen.atFewer municipalities – more efficient development managementIn the meantime, the number of municipalities has been reduced to 33, and many companies that pay the annual membership fee have voluntarily joined the LAG and thus acquire the right to display the “Vulkanland” logo. Unemployment is low, around 5%, the region now has 3% more young people under 19 than the Austrian average, but also 5% more population over the age of 65. They also have 17% more population with more family members, 82% more employees in the primary sector than the Austrian average, 2% more in the secondary sector.There are 3,3% foreigners, 8% of the economy is engaged in tourism and leisure, crafts 54%, trade, brokerage, management 25%, information consulting 8%. Of the schools, they have 44 primary, 16 secondary, 1 special, 8 polytechnic, 2 more for production occupations, 1 higher for tourism and 1 higher for kindergarten teachers. In the regional administration for social development, in addition to mag. Fenda, who leads the LEADER programs, also has Dr. Beatrix Lenz and mag. Stefan Preiningen in charge of youth.A combination of agriculture and tourismThe main feature of agricultural processing companies is their orientation towards organic production, “fair trade” principle, innovation and all have well-organized tours of production facilities with tasting that is well paid and well-organized shops at the place of production. Most of the products are sold in Austria and all of them have a respectable number of regular customers – individuals to whom the goods are delivered directly (Thaller as many as 13.000 people). Production facilities are becoming top tourist attractions that record a steady increase in visits. The chocolate maker Zotter went the furthest on this issue, whose complex stretches over thirty hectares on which there is a real small zoo, fruit and vegetable production, entertainment for children, restaurant… and the chocolate factory itself offers an unforgettable experience to every visitor. Innovations in the production of wine, brandy, liqueurs, cheeses, prosciutto… innovative way of presenting these products, excellent organization of direct sales, give results of above-average sales prices, high product value and satisfaction of all stakeholders in such “fair trade” trade.There are more and more other tourist facilities such as hiking and cycling facilities, they are being developed regionally and implemented locally. Spas, castles, museums, sports facilities with sports hotels… all this raises the participation and importance of tourism in the overall economy. “Steirische Vulkanland” is a small region that provides a great lesson in connecting the community into a sustainable microeconomic model.Whoever wants, can learn, see but also spend – a lot. A tour of the “Steirische Vulkanland” is worth every Euro.Published by: Nedo Pinezićlast_img

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