Eco tourism – Which destinations in Serbia you should visit if you like nature
Eco tourism is a relatively modern travel concept. The first mention dates back to 1960, and the concept pertains to the relations between the tourist, the surroundings and the culture. It became popular in the 1980s, when the tourism offer was expanded to include these kinds of tours. From expeditions to Africa, which date back to the early 20th century, to visits to the Yellowstone National Park, this type of tourism has come a long way, regarding both the destinations and the price. One thing has remained the same – the desire to experience something new.
– The concept of eco tourism is based on learning. The main motive of eco tourism and these kinds of tourists is to learn more about the environment and the eco-system. The main characteristics of eco tourism are the minimal negative environmental impact, the maximum pleasure for the tourist and the maximum gain for the local community – Ivan Vukovic of the Tourism Organization of Serbia says for eKapija.
He adds that it is especially important to interact with the local community and to hire local guides, as that is the only way for everyone to benefit from that kind of cooperation:
– The tourists have an opportunity to meet the environment, presented to them by someone who grew up there. The community itself, in addition to being able to sell souvenirs and organize presentations, gets a sense of pride and a confirmation of the value of its cultural and historical heritage.
Pavle Pavlovic, a tourist guide, agrees and says that eco tourism is a part of sustainable tourism. He believes that Serbia has the potential for this kind of offer.
– As a landlocked country, Serbia needs to do eco tourism, which will be one of the top development priorities. The state doesn’t deal with this in the right way, implementing these principles only locally.
The potentials of Serbia include a large number of protected natural eco systems: five national parks, 18 natural monuments, 20 areas with unique characteristics and 69 natural reserves.
– There’s also the rich cultural heritage, both in material and non-material terms, reflected in numerous customs, narratives and legends. Authentic dishes, prepared using traditional recipes, are a good foundation for this kind of tourism – Vukovic says.
What can you see and do when it comes to eco tourism in Serbia? Cruising on Carska Bara and Obedska Bara, touring Zasavica, rafting down the Uvac and watching griffon vultures, bear watching on Tara, kayaking down the Drina, rowing in the Backa Danube biosphere and trekking on Divcibare are only some of the options.
– There is no doubt that Serbia has a preserved environment and that the entire territory features impressive natural phenomena left for us to discover – Vukovic says.
The concept of eco tourism is becoming increasingly popular and has been recognized as the need for getting away, at least for a while, from everyday stress and getting back to manual labor and learning in a natural environment. According to the surveys on the behavior of local and foreign tourists that the Tourism Organization of Serbia conducted in 2015 and 2016, 52% of local tourists cited nature as the motive to travel around Serbia, whereas 8% cited sports activities. When it comes to foreign guests, the cultural and historical heritage was cited as the motive to visit Serbia by 62% tourists, whereas 43% cited nature.
That eco and village tourism are developing is also confirmed by Bosko Kozarski (36) from Belgrade. As he says, Serbia is his choice thanks to its very interesting history, combined with incredible natural features.
– I love every corner of Serbia, and, for personal reasons, I visit Zlatibor as a tourist at least twice a year. I avoid the center, choosing Dobroselice and Ljubis instead. Other destinations I revisit gladly are Cegar, Donji Matejevac and Kamenicki Vis. This is an ideal combination of ethno, eco and historical tourism – Kozarski recommends.
When it comes to foreign tourists, Darko Gavrilovic of the Talas Travel agency says that their level of awareness of ecology and responsibility to nature is still far ahead of the level of awareness in Serbia.
– They can’t believe that there are plastic bags or bottles beside roads, or, even worse, in rivers and streams. This cheapens Serbia as a destination and creates a very negative image. Of course, they are delighted when they visit clean places and oases, especially those guests who come from the Mediterranean or from places that are not rich in green areas, mountains or rivers. Recently, we were visited by guests from the UAE, who went out during a huge rain shower without umbrellas and had a great time, as it was their first time experiencing natural rain – our interviewee reveals.