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Key factors for innovativeness of mountain destinations

DANTE partners have meet last 23-24 January in Ljubljana, Slovenia, for a very interesting seminar “Key factors for innovativeness of mountain destinations”. For those who are new to the project activities, Dante stands for Digital Agenda for New Tourism Approach in European Rural and Mountain Areas.

Optical fiber infrastructure as a location factor in rural and mountain areas

 Like the name of the project indicates it, a big accent has been put on the role new infrastructures, like the ones bringing internet in mountain and remote areas, have in boosting the attractiveness of territories. The case of South Tyrol has been put in front by Michael Volgger from the European Academy of Bolzano (EURAC).

The availability and quality of local infrastructures is considered to be a “hard” location factor, together with the wages costs, availability of highly qualified workforce and sales markets. These factors come in addition to the “soft ones” considered to be: the opportunities for recreation, the residential, education and training and the child care supply the area offers to new comers.

In the remote areas of South Tyrol, like in many other remote/less densely populated areas, the municipalities have found themselves in a situation of market failure with big internet & phone companies not interested to invest in modern infrastructures (fiber). Or the population considered internet infrastructure as important as transport ones (results from a survey done locally).

So the regional government decided to step in and invest in optical fiber infrastructures. The originality of the South Tyrol method consists in the fact that the network is owned locally (by a cooperative) and the service is provided by a regional company. This can be resumed as follows:

Fiber optic connection is now available in most municipalities of South Tyrol (total coverage foreseen by the end of 2014). It is seen locally not only as an opportunity for economic development, but also as an increase of the quality of life & competitiveness of the rural territories, strengthening the innovation quality.

The most important factors for the success of this initiative were: the available financing & the cooperation between local & regional but also public and private actors.

For more information download the whole presentation here.

5 stars of sustainable development in Slovenian Mountains

Another factor of innovativeness that has been stressed by Slovenians is the sustainability of mountain destinations and the economy of natural resources. A brand new hotel in the area of Bohinj, the 1st eco hotel in Slovenia has been showed as an example. With the motto “Leave nothing just footprints, take nothing than memories” the investors of this family owned business propose to tourists a 5 starts accommodation and different entertainment services, all this with a minimum impact on the nature. All foods and staff come from the neighbouring villages in order to limit the CO2 emission (but also to provide tourists with local specialities). The image below resumes the interests for such an investment in mountain areas:

In a long term run, the extra costs of the investments are reimbursed by the economy in energy and natural resources. The profitability of the structure depends on yearlong frequentation and extension of touristic seasons. Investment in different infrastructures: bike park, sledge and snow park, as well as cultural activities, etc. ensure the flux of all tourists categories at different moments of the year.

Low-cost shuttle transportation possible thanks to ICTs – GoOpti’s case

GoOpti is a new type of transport, successful where existing public transportation companies could not be. It provides individual travelers with airport connections, to and from their area. They offer reliable and cheap transportation to big but also smaller cities, where demand is not high, but still exists. You can see in the image down their business philosophy:

For more information, download the entire presentation here.

Common actions because together we are stronger: the brand Heart of Slovenia

The heart of Slovenia is the name of the marketing brand used as an incentive for rural tourism in 16 municipalities, representing 1.555 km² and 196.000 inhabitants.

Their succesful brand has been created from scratch some years ago and has 3 components: the environment, the entrepreneurship and touristic activities. Activities developed include the promotion of the territory, a pilot action for local products distribution in schools and public organisations, creation of thematic paths, one stop shops, festival and events, as well as the promotion of new forms of tourism like the caravans inside farms, etc. Both the brand and diverse activities have encountered a lot of success. The promotion of activities through the use of a specific mobile application is now on the agenda:

For more information, download the entire presentation here.

Attracting and influencing tourists opinion through social media

A short reminder on why social medias are important was done by SPIRIT Slovenia, Public Agency, Slovenian Tourist Board (key messages in the image below):

As social medias are considered to be an important opportunity to attract tourists, the agency adopted different ones (like Facebook, Twitter, on-line blogs, etc) in order to promote the webportal Spirit Slovenia that markets the country as a destination for foreign tourists.

Their objectives were to:

  • raise awareness of Slovenia as a tourist destination & improve Slovenia‘s visibility as a tourist destination on Internet
  • promote and establish wider communication about Slovenia on the Internet
  • improve the Slovenia’s brand and strenghten their brand identity
  • increase the number of visitors to www.Slovenia.info & the number of registered users of the e-newsletter

Main lessons learnt:

  • on social media, one needs to communicate not to advertise
  • you need to define what you want and thus set up your own concept
  • 3 steps process: listen, engage, measure
  • only (boring) promotional messages does not meet the needs of listeners and you will loose them
  • “If you‘re talking, engaging, homorous without pandering, I‘m going to listen‘‘

For more information, download the entire presentation here.

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5 February 2013

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