Goran Mališ: All previous products that received the mark of authenticity have become promoters of tourism in our region

Varaždin County recorded record tourism results this year, but there is still room for improvement

Author  HrTurizam.hr

5. July 2023.

As we have already announced "Varaždin's pumpkin oil" received a European protected designation of geographical origin.

This is already the seventh product registered in the register of protected designations of origin and protected designations of geographical origin and is protected throughout the European Union. It was the occasion for a conversation with Goran Mališ, director of the Tourist Board of Varaždin County, which in the first six months achieved record results in terms of arrivals and overnight stays.

The European Union passed a decision on the protection of the name Varaždin pumpkin oil. From previous experiences with the protection of Varaždinsk zelje, Varaždinsk klipič, Zagorska purica... what does this decision mean for the branding of Varaždin County as a tourist destination?

"After Varaždin zelje, Zagorski turkey, Zagorski mlinci, Zagorski štrukli and Zagorski acacia honey and Varaždinski klipič, our Varaždin pumpkin oil has also found its place on the European list of autochthonous and special products. We have known that it belongs there for a very long time, but we are glad that this has now been officially confirmed. This confirmation is primarily a recognition of our agricultural producers, OPGs, who, despite all the challenges, strive for the quality of their product, and at the same time preserve the tradition and culture of their region. The protection of Varaždin pumpkin oil on at the European level will contribute to the further creation of the identity and recognition of Varaždin County, and at the same time will raise the level of competitiveness on the increasingly demanding European and world market. when he comes to a destination, it's domestic and autochthonous. In the end, that's actually what differentiates us from other destinations, we have something of our own, different and recognizable."

Protected products in Varaždin County contribute to the recognition of the destination. Today, tourists, especially foreign ones, want to enjoy domestic products, and OPGs and domestic producers are particularly at a premium. Project Flavors of the Varaždin region emphasizes exactly that offer. How satisfied are you with the results, what is the feedback from the field and what is the next plan in this matter?

"Tourists who come to our county definitely want to enjoy our local products, they want to buy them from local producers and OPG located right next door. They want to see that the product is made from local ingredients grown by a person with whom the guest can talk and get information about the production from him. The project "Tastes of the Varaždin Region" is part of a joint project that has brought together 14 Croatian counties under the name "Tastes of Tradition" and through which the emphasis is placed on local autochthonous dishes that can be obtained in restaurants that bear the Tastes standard traditions. Through them, guests can also get to know local ingredients that are used to prepare somewhat forgotten dishes, which can be found on the menu of these restaurants throughout the year. During the 10 days of the "Days of Taste" event, restaurants are specially presented where at acceptable prices, you can get three-course menus, which celebrate the tradition of our region in the best possible way."

///Taste days of the Varaždin region: One of the gastronomic reasons for coming to Varaždin county

334692725 789075609218824 4687540438051545948 n

What is the cooperation between private renters and domestic OPGs? One of the successful projects of the Tourist Board of Varaždin County is i "Holiday houses with a story" in which this cooperation could be the most pronounced. Holiday houses with a story and protected products - are you satisfied with the cooperation and what else can be done to make it better?

"There are more than 140 holiday homes in Varaždin County, while 68 of them are included in the project "Holiday Homes with a Story". has a swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi, they offer a story about the facility, the owners and the tradition. In order to spend their time in our county as comfortably as possible, they are offered numerous opportunities to get to know the cultural and natural heritage of Varaždin County, an active vacation along the Drava River or hiking on the Ivančica River, but tourists especially they also like to get to know the gastronomy of our region, and good cooperation with holiday homes has been made by numerous OPGs in the neighborhood who offer their products to guests.Pumpkin oil, wine, honey, cheese are just some of the products that can literally be bought from the first neighbors. It is a real example of sustainable tourism, which is talked about so much today. Because a satisfied guest is one who gets more than he expected for the price he paid. It is precisely this added value that is our autochthonous and protected products that we are proud of. And in this way, renters and agricultural producers can be satisfied with the synergy by selling at their doorstep."

As a continental county without "sun and sea", you must make additional efforts to attract guests from Croatia and abroad. How much does this kind of promotion through protected products and through gastronomic events help in this?

"Considering that we on the continent have to work much harder to offer interesting and attractive content to tourists throughout the year, gastronomic events such as Days of Taste are certainly a good model, there are also days of porcini mushrooms and black truffles in Paka near Novi Marof, Zeljarijada in Vidovac , and the gastronomic offer is rich even at our biggest entertainment events such as Spancirfest and Advent in Varaždin."

051a22dde3b372e5c058fbc303756df4 xl

///Holiday houses with a story responsible for more and more overnight stays by foreign tourists in Varaždin County

It's the beginning of July, so we can look back on the first six months of 2023. The results are once again a record.

"After last year's results from the eVisitor system, with which we reached a record 206.000 overnight stays and almost 90.000 arrivals in Varaždin County, the figures in the first part of this year show that there is still room for growth and progress, because already after the first six months there is an increase of 25% in arrivals and overnight stays compared to the last record year. This is only proof that the continent is well recognized by foreign tourists who come to us mostly from Germany, then Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Netherlands, and they especially like the model of getting to know our traditions and originality, which is certainly contributed to by the gastronomic offer of originality that is encountered in Varaždin County - a county with a story."

Further investment in tourism in this area will certainly contribute to even better results, and the presentation of the Draft Plan for the Development of Varaždin County also supports this. It is a document that contains 50 projects with a total value of around 350 million euros, which should be implemented by 2027. Although not all projects are touristic, a large part of them will contribute to the development of tourism in Varaždin County.

The draft plan is divided into five development areas and six thematic groups, of which the most interesting for the Tourist Board of Varaždin County is the one related to culture and tourism. The process of creating a key document for the development of Varaždin County lasted an intense year and a half. This document defines the future development of the county and is strategically linked to the national document "National Development Strategy 2030".

Photo source: Varaždin County Tourist Board

Author  HrTurizam.hr

5. July 2023.