Edvin Jurin: Can transformative tourism change a part of our society?

This year's summer tourist season has just begun to heat up, and our media have returned to our old habit - counting tourists. An old addiction that has no end. So many of them entered across the border ...

This year's summer tourist season has just begun to heat up, and our media have returned to our old habit - counting tourists. An old addiction that has no end. So many and so many of them crossed the border, more arrived by car, less by plane. Tourism is at X% in the observed period, and at Y% year-on-year. When even those few budding tourists are admitted by their countries at their own risk through, say, the border crossing in Bregana, our media guerrillas fly out with drawn microphones and a series of questions like:“Why did they come? Are you afraid of the crown? How much do you plan to spend? ”

Then, after a few flat introductory sentences by journalists, a waterfall of short statements by directors of tourist boards starts (at this moment, unfortunately for some of them, as far as the source of funding is concerned, questionable destinies considering the Law on Croatian Tourist Board and Promotion of Croatian Tourism). ) to forced routine journalistic questions in order to provide information on the state of capacity utilization that is essentially achieved by others.

And these others are the key bearers of the business of hotel resorts, camps and hastily created heroes of this year's summer season - marinas, who realize all this tourist traffic with the famous degrading mandatory signature on small screens: "Marko Markovic, director of a hotel or an agency or a marina ” so that the relevant media would not accidentally "advertise" that hotel, travel agency or other business entity for free, and the guests would rush so that, figuratively speaking, the front door would not fall apart from the strong rush.

The only defense of the media is that they are not allowed, I emphasize that it is roughly said to "advertise" anyone. Hello, stop for once. You are not "advertising" but by not mentioning the name of the business entity, you are insufficiently informing me and everyone else. And I don't watch one television, but either HRT or Nova TV or RTL. And so from year to year.

Transition - but what kind?

Tragicomic. Nakaradno. Inappropriate. Stunning. And ultimately - devastating.

And, tourism, you will - you will not, like today and everything else in our lives, undeniably continues and goes in new ways. I do not see that we take this in a broader and more serious context. Those who understand it better - talk more and more about "transformative tourism"(transformative travel).

Tourism that is experiencing its thought, and thus meaningful and ultimately key transition.

This is not a mere "transition" as a term that our sports commentators have started to use relentlessly for the previously common term "counter". This means when the defending team cuts the ball to the opponent and rushes towards the opponent's goal in order to quickly score a goal for the other team.

This transition takes us back to the essence of tourism that we started with, and then forgot about it because of greed for numbers and money. It brings us back to our tourist, and thus economic and wider cultural and sociological beginnings. Iskon, which is called the close relationship of tourism and other service providers to the guest, as we once had. A relationship of sincerity and authenticity, a relationship without turning the euro and the kuna in our minds and eyes when we see strangers on the target, a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. Relationship in which the word "recommendation" - a keyword. Idealism? No, a reality that has been proven for the umpteenth time today. The first to come to us, not to say "returned" were those guests who know their hosts well or have received a recommendation for their hosts.

In essence, we have returned to word-of-mouth communication. Communication primordial. Tribal-type communication, which whenever something goes wrong or we are not sure, emerges from our genetic code. Communication that no digital or other modern communication format can replace but only more effectively support.

Transformative tourism is a step further than “live as locals” tourism, which emerged five years ago. It is tourism that changes part of the individual views and thus the life of the guest.

So, tourism that connects you with nature and the environment in which you live and interacts changes your relationship with your family or yourself. By making personal fulfillment more complete, it becomes a new level - the ultimate luxury. It is tourism that, among other things, directs us to respect others with sincere respect for ourselves and the sustainable environment in which we live, and not endangered by excessive concreting and throwing garbage into nature on the principle of "let others take care of it". It is tourism that is created initially by family upbringing, and is directly and indirectly supported by high school education with picturesque and intriguing stories about the region and the country or identity to which we belong.

Formula and approach

According to Jake Hauptart (with whom I know how to correspond) and Michael Benett, the founders of this new direction within their organization or perhaps even the Transformational Travel Council movement, the basic concept boils down to the acronym HERO: H (HEART), E in search of engagement - ENGAGEMENT), (with determination - RESOLVES, to do it through challenges) and O (open - OPEN soul to the unknown).

The key, then, is to experience change. Personal. Which fulfills not only physically but psychologically and emotionally. But this is not achieved by simple tricks but in three gradual phases - careful planning of the trip and stay before arrival, unobtrusive and meaningful delivery on the spot, and communication and relationship after the experience is over.

For such tourism it is not necessary to go to the Himalayas or expose oneself to the dangers of the Amazon. In our case, such tourism is possible and ideal for the expanses of Lika and Slavonia, the wilderness of the Kornati archipelago, the beauty of Kopački rit or the Dalmatian hinterland, but also vibrating ambient environments such as Osijek, Karlovac, Rijeka and Opatija and Zagreb and its surroundings.

But such tourism necessarily requires a completely different approach. First of all, not to sit in the shade of a cafe near a parked tin pet and watch and comment on "furešte" as statistical figures from the sidelines with unbearably loud music, but to unobtrusively and completely dedicate ourselves to them. It seeks and opens the outlines of a new transformative economy, not only in the field of tourism but also in the economy as a whole.

Therefore, I warmly recommend our new Minister of Tourism and Sports and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia to try to think about how to meet the global economy of the third millennium in these and other areas of the transformative economy.

Until then, well-intentioned advice to local media, tourism employees, marketing, brand and communication experts of all orientations: Stop counting anonymous people - dedicate yourself to a specific person. Without hesitation. Intrigue, delight, teach, relax, bond with yourself. Precisely in that rhythm and in that order. It's not easy every time. But by doing so, you get stories that will encourage and nurture the loyalty of those you need as a key component of the sustainability of everything you do. You get - the future!

Author: Edvin Jurin, Epoch / Photo: Nathan Cowley, Pexels, com

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