Can you identify the role and missions of your organization?
The vision of the Institute of Agriculture and Tourism is to be a leading scientific research and infrastructure institution in the field of agriculture and tourism, both locally and nationally, and also recognizable internationally, which will permanently contribute to the overall development of rural areas, sustainability, biodiversity and natural and traditional values. Also, IPTPO aims to be a recognizable scientific research institution that permanently contributes to sustainable tourism development on regional, national and international level. The mission of our Institute is research, education and transfer of knowledge about sustainable tourism and the relationship between tourism and agriculture in the context of achieving sustainable development.
Why are you participating in the WINTER MED project?
IPTPO develops applied scientific research projects in tourism, tourism development studies, as well as tourism development strategies on regional and municipality levels. IPTPO competencies lay in using the correct methodology for data research, analysis and developing studies. The Institute promotes the results of our research to various stakeholders and also organize capacity building and training workshops in order to achieve the transfer of knowledge and networking. By participating in different projects financed by the EU, the Institute tries to transfer the knowledge obtained through scientific research to practice.
What is the economic weight of tourism for your region?
Tourism is one of the most important industries with more than 19% of total GDP in 2019 in Croatia, according to official data of the Ministry of Tourism. From a total overnight stay in Croatia in 2019, Istria County takes 28,9 %. At the same time, Primorje-Gorski kotar account 16,8% of a total overnights stay in Croatia. According to tourism development index in 2019 (Institute for Tourism, 2020), the most developed in Croatia are municipalities on the west coast of Istria County, Poreč, Rovinj, Umag, and Medulin on the south of Istria.
What are the high periods of tourist attendance?
The high period of tourist season is summer, July and August.
What projects or actions have you implemented to make tourism more sustainable?
The main activities of the Institute are scientific research, so our main contribution to make tourism more sustainable is through different scientific studies and projects. Within the MED and Interreg MED project related to sustainable tourism, we have implemented until now the following projects: MITOMED (2014-2015), CASTWATER (2016-2019), MITOMED+ (2017-2020), INHERIT (2018-2022), and we are now participating in the implementation of WINTER MED (2019-2022).
Have you set up tourism sustainability monitoring tools?
Through the MITOMED and its following project MITOMED+, we participated in a testing set of indicators for monitoring the tourism data in order to measure the sustainability of tourism activities. Indicators were tested in three pilot destinations Poreč, Novigrad and Labin for which were monitoring economic, social-cultural and environmental indicators. Also, within the implementation of MITOMED+, we participated in developing and testing the Green Beach Model, a management tool for sustainable beach management.
Do you have ways to reduce the negative impacts on the environment, culture, social?
The negative impacts of tourism can be reduced through the education of all stakeholders in tourism to raise awareness of the importance of reducing the adverse effects of tourism. In planning tourism activity in the destinations, a wide range of stakeholders needs to be involved. Also, the use of tools developed within the previous project can give useful information to make decisions in tourism that are based on prompt and available data.
What measures do you recommend ensuring responsible and sustainable growth?
Ensuring responsible and sustainable growth is necessary to make a balance between all the sustainable pillars (economic, social and environmental). For example, in the cities centers is needed to reduce the number of visitors by offering them other activities, especially those located in rural areas, to reduce the number of motor vehicles providing public transport or bicycles. Educating tourists and the local population about the importance of sustainable development is essential, so we should work in that direction. Encouragement of sustainable waste management and sustainable use of natural resources on a local, regional and national level. The local and regional governments should encourage cooperation and communication of all stakeholders in tourism and the participation of all stakeholders in the creation of sustainable development strategies.
What governance mechanisms do you propose?
Through different measures, decision-makers in tourism need to encourage the stakeholders to implement sustainable practices in their business. For example, they can offer various forms of funding for special projects that will deal with specific problems in their areas considering different aspects of their destinations. Also, it is crucial to provide education and enough information for locals, stakeholders and tourists, about the initiatives to implement sustainable tourism in their destinations.