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The Slovenian coast is situated at
the far northern end of the Mediterranean, along the
Gulf of Trieste which is the northernmost part of the
Adriatic Sea. The Slovenian coast is only 46 km long
and is heavily urbanised. The proximity of Trieste and
other bigger cities of Northern Italy, Austria and mainland
Slovenia makes the area interesting for tourists. They
are attracted by the diverse natural beauties (cliffs,
marshes, caves, beaches etc.) and rich cultural heritage
(historic settlements, salt-pans, traditional food etc).
Problems / Conflicts / Opportunities
Tourism and recreation
The area has a well developed tourist
infrastructure, which includes dozens of hotels, sports
facilities and public beaches. Most of them are in perfect
condition. The area has 21.000 tourist beds, most of
them in the municipality of Piran. It receives about
400,000 tourists a year. Besides beach tourism, the
focus of Slovenian coastal tourism is placed on conferences,
health and casino tourism throughout the whole year.
During the last few years, eco-tourism and cultural
tourism have become increasingly important. Therefore,
tourism development of the coast sprawls outside the
city into the natural parts of the coast, into the coastal
hinterland developing new tourist attractions which
can easily go beyond the carrying capacity of the environment.
The coast is heavily populated.
The region spans over an area of 344 km2 with a population
of just under 80.000 people (232 inhabitants/km2). Most
of the population (over 80%) lives within the 1,5 kilometre
wide strip along the coast. The urbanisation of the
coastal strip together with the increasing employment
opportunities led to intensive migration of inhabitants
from hinterland to the coast. Among the direct consequences
of this exodus were deserted villages, the decay of
urban buildings, poor maintenance of infrastructure,
abandonment of farming and the decay of the typical
In the eighties the migration process
reversed, mainly due to the greater private housing
possibilities. The change had positive effects on the
revitalisation of the hinterland. At the same time,
due to poor planning and insufficient control over building
activities, the process led to a serious degradation
of the cultural landscape. Today, the major problem
of coastal cities and settlernents lies in their extensive
and dispersed expansion into the surrounding space over
the last decades. The major changes in the narrow coastal
strip over these years (abandoning of salt production,
the construction of tourist facilities including yachtmarinas,
the development of the port of Koper and infrastructure)
resulted in a serious loss of natural coastline and
degradation of the coastal ecosystems.
The cliffs of Strunjan
(Foto Hanc J.)
In the past decade there were several projects focused
on the protection of natural and cultural environments
from deterioration through development of eco-tourism
and cultural tourism. There were also a number of projects
that looked at various aspects of regional development
and sought for more integrated and sustainable solutions.
With the creation of the new Coastal Area Management
Programme (CAMP) the area is going to get an important
document for sustainable development of the coastal
zone together with its hinterland. Part of the CAMP
will also be the Strategy for Development of Sustainable
Tourism along the Slovenian Coast. The difference of
this particular project from similar projects is that
the area includes a large part of the hinterland and
that the process of preparing the documents anticipates
extensive community involvement.
Salt-pans of Secovlje. (Foto:
An important strategy of sustainable tourism is diversification
of the tourism product from beach tourism to other types
of tourism which are not linked only to the coast but
also to its hinterland.
The saltpans of Secovlje, Slovenia.
Foto: Jaka Adamic.
The most important result of regional
development and heritage protection activities in the
coastal area has been the recognition that there is
a need for cooperation among all stakeholders to be
able to solve growing environmental problems. Furthermore,
preparation of a fully integrated aproach towards sustainable
development is essential.
Another important result of the last-decade-activities
are extensive protected areas of natural and historical
sites along the coast. Nature reserves include cliffs,
lagoons, underwater habitats, salt marshes, salt-pans,
reserves of Mediterranean terrestial flora and fauna
and as well as freshwater lakes.
Protected nature heritage
1. Secovlje natural
resort that includes salt-pan and Seca peninsula - it is also Ramsar locality
2. Strunjan natural resort that includes steep cliffs
along the seashore
3. Skocjanski Zatok; and others that are not yet fully
protected. These sites are not only managed because
of their intrinsic ecological value. They are also regarded
as part of a valuable network of attractive areas that
are used for diversifying the tourism product
Who, Where and When
There is no coordinating body for the sustainable tourism
process yet. The whole process of moving towards sustainable
tourism started in early 90s because of the need to
protect natural heritage sites along the coast. At that
time, the sustainable tourism concept seemed to offer
the right directions for protection and development
of sensitive areas with high ecological or cultural
value. The initial steps to develop Integrated Regional
Development Plan for Coastal Area of Slovenia were concluded
in March 2002. In September 2003, a new phase of this
process started with the preparation of CAMP which will
be concluded by the end of 2005. The project is prepared
in the framework of the Barcelona Convention and the
Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP). It is coordinated
by the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and
Energy of Slovenia. Financial resources are also contributed
by the coastal municipalities.
Exercise for user
What kind of tourism can be developed to diversify
the tourism product and to unburden the coast?
The historic town of Piran at
Cape Madona, Slovenia. Foto: Jaka Adamic.