"DRAVA AS AN OPPORTUNITY"
International Event "Drava as an Opportunity"
The first international meeting of Slovenian and Croatian stakeholders in the Drava River area, which took place on Thursday, November 8th, 2018, at the Kulturni dom (Cultural Centre) in Miklavž na Dravskem polju, represents the beginning of joint, collaborative efforts to extend the Drava Bike Trail all the way to Osijek, Croatia. Builders in Slovenia extended the Drava Bike Trail by 510 km to Legrad, Croatia, and delighted Austrian partners already have a promoted tourism product that includes both Slovenian and Croatian parts. Further efforts will be made in the spirit of formation of a similar partnership that will deal with the development of the Drava Bike Trail in Croatia, where it will also be necessary to adjust traffic signalization rules in order to mark the trail in a similar or same manner as the Slovenian side. Among other things which occurred at the event, the idea was brought forth of the signing a 4-country cooperation agreement to help the future sustainable development in the regions along the Drava river.
Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route consists of 18 municipalities along the Drava River (Dravograd, Muta, Vuzenica, Radlje ob Dravi, Podvelka, Lovrenc na Pohorju, Selnica ob Dravi, Ruše, Maribor, Duplek, Miklavž na Dravskem polju, Starše, Hajdina, Ptuj, Markovci, Gorišnica, Ormož, Središče ob Dravi), three development agencies (Koroška region Development Agency (RRA Koroška), Mariborska razvojna agencija, ZRS Bistra), Maribor - Pohorje Tourist Board and the Slovenian Infrastructure Agency (DRSI) in cooperation with the Initiative for Drava organized the international event titled Drava as an Opportunity".
The main goal of this international event was to connect organizations and individuals who are working in the area of sustainable tourism development and Drava River preservation in Slovenia and Croatia. Representatives from ministries, municipalities, development agencies, local tourist organizations and providers from both sides of the border participated. Presentations that gave insight into the Drava Cycling Route’s current situation in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia were followed by workshops where participants discussed the topic of the Drava River’s international tourism potential.
Project for the establishment of the Drava Cycling Route in Slovenia
In Slovenia, the project for the establishment of the Drava Cycling Route is coordinated by the Drava Bike Trail partnership. The partnership’s professional service is the Koroška Region Development Agency (RRA Koroška), which took over the management of the Drava Bike Trail project in Slovenia. The partnership has been in operation since 2015, and as one of its first objectives was the coordination of the cycling route, with construction now in the planning phase. In 2018, the Slovenian Infrastructure Agency set up 600 new information boards. In July 2018, in cooperation with municipalities, a new 30 km-long section between Maribor and Ptuj (through the municipalities of Miklavž na Dravskem polju, Starše and Hajdina) was put into service. The construction of completely new sections in Ruše (4.5 km) and in Muta (1.5 km) commenced, and in 2019, construction is also planned in the Municipality of Radlje ob Dravi (3 km) and in City Municipality of Maribor (1.5 km), whose main investor is DRSI. By building new sections and using already built ones, a new 15 km-long section between the Trbonjski and Vuzeniški, mostly on the left side of the Drava Riverm, will be marked in 2019. The partnership has also prepared a new concept of rest areas and information boards, which will be set up along the route in the coming years. In 2019, DRSI will also prepare all necessary project documentation for the remaining sections of the Drava Cycle Route, which will be built in the following years.
At the Maribor - Pohorje Destination Management Agency (Zavod za turizem Maribor - Pohorje), which took over the role of promoting the Drava Bike Trail in Slovenia, they established the website www.dravabike.si as well as the incubator Drava Bike and carried out a series of promotional campaigns. The website presents the Drava Biking Trail in Slovenia and Croatia to Legrad, to the confluence of the Mura and Drava rivers. It is divided into six stages, which add a total of 210 km to the previous 300 km in Austria. Following the example of the Austrian association of Verein Drauradwegwirte providers along the Drava Cycling Route, the Drava Bike incubator was established, which can be joined by tourism service providers along the cycling route in Slovenia and Croatia, with much lower costs. At the moment, 80 different providers are included along the entire route between Dravograd and Legrad.
Drava and Nature
In the coming years in Slovenia, the cohesion project "zaDravo" will implement several activities to restore or improve the riverine ecosystem and establish the Drava Educational Cycling Route, which will explain the nature of the Drava River. Explanation centres, polygons, paths and points will be in areas along the Drava Biking Trail, which will ensure added visitations and placed where the protected habitats will not be affected by the visit. By explaining the human impact on riverine habitats, visitors will be encouraged to visit and to act in a way which reduces or prevents negative impacts upon nature and the environment.
Drava Cycling Route in Austria and Croatia
The Drava Cycling Route in Austria is one of the five cycling routes in Europe that feature the five-star sign of ADFC classification. As of 2018, the Slovenian and part of the Croatian sections of the Drava Cycling Route, a total length of 510 km, has been presented on the updated Austrian website www.drauradweg.com, and other joint activities are planned. The Croatian part of the route is also developing, covering an area of five counties, eight cities and 26 municipalities. On the Croatian side, they are striving to establish a partnership and project coordination similar to that on the Slovenian side. The Drava Cycling Route in Croatia covers 360 km and is likely to be divided into 5-6 long stages. The presented proposal is in coordination. The key objective of international collaboration is the signing of an interstate cooperation agreement between all four countries in the Drava region as a destination.
In Croatia, the "Amazon of Europe" project is being carried out along the Drava River, which covers an area in the very heart of Europe in the area of five countries from the Mura River along the Austrian-Slovenian border to the Danube. The acronym for the project is AoE Bike Trail. The project covers three rivers (Mura, Drava, Danube), a length of 700 km in five countries. The main objective of the project will be to establish the Amazon of Europe Bike Trail as a leading tourist product for cycling, which can be booked online. The goal is for a joint effort where the Croatian-side bike trail overlaps with the Drava Cycling Route.
Karmen Razlag, Consultant for development and projects, Maribor – Pohorje Tourist Board, Phone: +386 (0)2 234 66 09, Mobile: +386 31 682 373, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Uroš Rozman, Project Manager, Koroška region Development Agency (RRA Koroška d.o.o.), Phone: +386 (0)59 085 188, Mobile: +386 40 876 253, E-mail: email@example.com
Drava Bike Trail partnership presentation, Mrs. Mateja Softič, Iskriva, Institute of Development of Local Potentials.
Drava Bike Trail in Slovenia, Mr. Uroš Rozman, Koroška region Development Agency (RRA Koroška)
Drava Bike Trail in Slovenia, Mrs. Karmen Razlag, Maribor - Pohorje Destination Management Agency (Zavod za turizem Maribor - Pohorje).
Drava Bike Trail in Austria, Mr. Paco Wrolich, Kärnten Tourism Marketing Organization (Kärnten Werbung, Austria).
Drava Bike Trail in Croatia, Mrs. Lidija Vrečar Mišćin, Cycling Tourism Agency of Croatia (Koordinacijsko tijelo za razvoj cikloturizma Hrvatske).
Amazon of Europe Bike Trail, Mrs. Urška Dolinar, Iskriva, Institute of Development of Local Potentials.
Interpretation and preservation of the natural environment along the Drava river, Mr. Andrej Grmovšek, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation (Zavod RS za varstvo narave).
*More photos from the event are available on Facebook page Drava Bike, album Drava kot priložnost (Drava as an opportunity).