During the elaboration of the ecotourism strategy, we based our work on the guidelines for the Integration of ecosystem services in ecotourism (Guidelines for ESS-based ecotourism strategy). It was the base for the elaboration of the „analytical part” of the strategy explaining to the future users how we perceive the ecotourism. Further this guideline was used during the elaboration of the proposal part based on the section Planning.
The Guidelines for sustainable bicycle tourism was used mainly in the proposal part of the strategy because we wanted to develop the strategy with focus on more topics than just the cycling. However, the guideline is very useful for the proposal part to set up the requirement.
We used two types of data during the elaboration. Secondary data gather from different resources with the aim to set the main framework. Further we needed to involve the local stakeholder too. We did in it by organizing online queries for different groups - the entrepreneurs, the resident and tourists. Lastly, we had workshops with a narrow group of stakeholders in order to come up with specific products for ecotourism in Košice region.
The strategy concludes that there is a great potential for development of ecotourism in Košice region and highlights the most interesting territories for such development. We see as an added value also the proposal of concrete products which have a development potential in the region.
Thanks to the project EcoVeloTour and the ecotourism development strategy we launched for a second time a grant scheme of the program Terra Incognita with one action focused on ecotourism. The aim of this action is small infrastructural projects which will result in ecotourism products.
We have our first pilot products from the action ecotourism from this scheme from last year. We can recall one example of such project: It is called Forest therapy. It is unique project in Slovakia. It is based on Shinrin yoku - what means in Japanese a bath in the atmosphere of the forest. Experts have drawn attention to many years of scientific studies that have shown the beneficial effects of the forest environment on the human body. Decrease in the production of stress hormones or increased production of so-called killer cells, one of the main fighters against cancer and many other diseases, these are just some of the benefits of a forest bath. With this forest therapy, which is becoming increasingly popular in many European countries, tourist will learn to slow down, be yourself, perceive details and learn their own body the healing power of the forest, such a natural and now scientifically based.
Further thanks to the ecotourism and the information gathered in the project we applied with other project in order to develop ecotourism in Košice Region. The project is called Birdtour and was supported in the program Interreg SKHU. It started in November 2020. It is focused on development of ecotourism products in Košice region, in Senné (Natura 2000 area), but instead of cycling tourism it is focused on birdwatching.
Košice Región starter the cycling season in Košice Región in Slovakia by opening the EcoVeloTour pilot investment - three modern Bike and Rest places on the EuroVelo 11 on 30th of April. Bike and Rest places are equipped with a resting zone, service tools and charger for e-bikes powered by solar energy. Cyclists can charge their phones here as well. The resting places are interconnected with the newly built educational path which focuses on informing the tourists and cyclists about the natural and cultural heritage of the area and also the importance of the ecosystem services and their use for society.