Mali Lošinj – European Interparliamentary Conference on sustainable tourism ended today in the town of Mali Lošinj with presentations of experts and panel discussions on cultural tourism and tourism in the function of environmental protection.
After the introductory words of the Mayor of Mali Lošinj Gari Cappelli, Hrvoje Marušić, assistant Minister of foreign and European affairs, addressed the audience presenting regional and cross-border development projects and EU funds. He emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in tourism development saying that tourism is a strong „euro-integration catalyst“ within the region. – Advantages of EU membership are easier access to EU funds and markets and it should be used in its full, he added.
Peter Mackelworth from the „Blue World Institute“ presented the work of the Institute and the plans for tourism development based on nature. He introduced the opening of new Lošinj Marine Science Centre. „Adriatic Project Dolphin” presentation proved the importance of research and protection of dolphins in the Adriatic Sea. Experts from the Conservation Institute of the Ministry of Culture presented the Croatian Apoxyomenos – one of the few preserved Greek statues which used to decorate Greek sanctuaries and towns. Manager of the Tourist Board of the Town of Mali Lošinj Đurđica Šimičić introduced the special features of the island of Lošinj and emphasized potentials for development of cultural and health tourism which the island offers. – We encourage economic development of our island by promoting local products and producers, said Šimičić.
There were two panel discussions held. Panel on cultural tourism was moderated by Jasen Mesić, MP Tourism Committee of the Croatian Parliament. Mesić emphasized that modern tourists motivated by cultural heritage need an authentic and unique product where local communities play a crucial role. Participants discussed the branding of a rural tourist destination and nautical sector.
External member of the Tourism Committee of the Croatian Parliament Dora Smolčić Jurdana discussed the topic of „Tourism in the function of environmental protection“. She emphasized that environmental protection should be more active and oriented towards the local population and based on sustainable development. – That is the reason why we should welcome the adoption of Strategy on Tourism, she said.
At the closing of the session the Croatian Minister of Tourism Darko Lorencin addressed the participants, stressing that the hotel in which the Conference was held is a synonym for sustainable tourism since its reconstruction proves that sustainable tourism can be part of the Tourism Strategy.
–The basic starting point of the new Tourism Strategy is spatial protection because the role of ambient is the key to success in Croatia, said Lorencin. The Minister referred to the issues related to climate changes and stressed that the solution lies in the development of other tourism branches such as health, adventure and wellness tourism.
In his closing address, the Conference Co-Chair Ettore Guglielmo Epifani said that it was necessary to establish a relationship between the need to preserve culture, tradition and gastronomy on the one hand and innovations on the other. We need a tourism policy that is integrated with other economy branches, Epifani added.
The Chairman of the Tourism Committee of the Croatian Parliament Goran Beus Richembergh expressed his gratitude to all participants for their contributions. –The Conference was attended by 170 participants in five sessions and two panel discussions. We tried to focus on the need for cultural heritage and environmental protection. Even though parliamentarians might not necessarily be experts in these fields, they are expected to make responsible decisions, concluded Beus Richembergh.
Conclusions and recommendations of the Conference will be delivered to the parliaments of EU Member States and states of the region. Secretary General of the Greek National Tourism Organisation Panos Livadas announced that the second European Interparliamentary Conference on Sustainable Tourism will be held next year in Greece.