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The Slovenian coast is situated at the far northern end of the Mediterranean, along the Gulf of Trieste which is the northernmost part of the Adriatic Sea. The Slovenian coast is only 46 km long and is heavily urbanised. The proximity of Trieste and other bigger cities of Northern Italy, Austria and mainland Slovenia makes the area interesting for tourists. They are attracted by the diverse natural beauties (cliffs, marshes, caves, beaches etc.) and rich cultural heritage (historic settlements, salt-pans, traditional food etc).


Problems / Conflicts / Opportunities

Tourism and recreation

The area has a well developed tourist infrastructure, which includes dozens of hotels, sports facilities and public beaches. Most of them are in perfect condition. The area has 21.000 tourist beds, most of them in the municipality of Piran. It receives about 400,000 tourists a year. Besides beach tourism, the focus of Slovenian coastal tourism is placed on conferences, health and casino tourism throughout the whole year. During the last few years, eco-tourism and cultural tourism have become increasingly important. Therefore, tourism development of the coast sprawls outside the city into the natural parts of the coast, into the coastal hinterland developing new tourist attractions which can easily go beyond the carrying capacity of the environment.


The coast is heavily populated. The region spans over an area of 344 km2 with a population of just under 80.000 people (232 inhabitants/km2). Most of the population (over 80%) lives within the 1,5 kilometre wide strip along the coast. The urbanisation of the coastal strip together with the increasing employment opportunities led to intensive migration of inhabitants from hinterland to the coast. Among the direct consequences of this exodus were deserted villages, the decay of urban buildings, poor maintenance of infrastructure, abandonment of farming and the decay of the typical cultural landscape.

In the eighties the migration process reversed, mainly due to the greater private housing possibilities. The change had positive effects on the revitalisation of the hinterland. At the same time, due to poor planning and insufficient control over building activities, the process led to a serious degradation of the cultural landscape. Today, the major problem of coastal cities and settlernents lies in their extensive and dispersed expansion into the surrounding space over the last decades. The major changes in the narrow coastal strip over these years (abandoning of salt production, the construction of tourist facilities including yachtmarinas, the development of the port of Koper and infrastructure) resulted in a serious loss of natural coastline and degradation of the coastal ecosystems.

The cliffs of Strunjan nature reserve.
(Foto Hanc J.)

Project Description

In the past decade there were several projects focused on the protection of natural and cultural environments from deterioration through development of eco-tourism and cultural tourism. There were also a number of projects that looked at various aspects of regional development and sought for more integrated and sustainable solutions. With the creation of the new Coastal Area Management Programme (CAMP) the area is going to get an important document for sustainable development of the coastal zone together with its hinterland. Part of the CAMP will also be the Strategy for Development of Sustainable Tourism along the Slovenian Coast. The difference of this particular project from similar projects is that the area includes a large part of the hinterland and that the process of preparing the documents anticipates extensive community involvement.

Salt-pans of Secovlje. (Foto: Klemenc S.)


An important strategy of sustainable tourism is diversification of the tourism product from beach tourism to other types of tourism which are not linked only to the coast but also to its hinterland.


The saltpans of Secovlje, Slovenia. Foto: Jaka Adamic.


The most important result of regional development and heritage protection activities in the coastal area has been the recognition that there is a need for cooperation among all stakeholders to be able to solve growing environmental problems. Furthermore, preparation of a fully integrated aproach towards sustainable development is essential.

Another important result of the last-decade-activities are extensive protected areas of natural and historical sites along the coast. Nature reserves include cliffs, lagoons, underwater habitats, salt marshes, salt-pans, reserves of mediterranean terrestial flora and fauna and as well as freshwater lakes.

Protected nature heritage sites are:

  1. Secovlje natural resort that includes salt-pan and Seca peninsula - it is also Ramsar locality;
  2. Strunjan natural resort that includes steep cliffs along the seashore;
  3. Skocjanski Zatok.

and others that are not yet fully protected. These sites are not only managed because of their intrinsic ecological value. They are also regarded as part of a valuable network of attractive areas that are used for diversifying the tourism product

Who, Where and When

There is no coordinating body for the sustainable tourism process yet. The whole process of moving towards sustainable tourism started in early 90s because of the need to protect natural heritage sites along the coast. At that time, the sustainable tourism concept seemed to offer the right directions for protection and development of sensitive areas with high ecological or cultural value. The initial steps to develop Integrated Regional Development Plan for Coastal Area of Slovenia were concluded in March 2002. In September 2003, a new phase of this process started with the preparation of CAMP which will be concluded by the end of 2005. The project is prepared in the framework of the Barcelona convention and the Mediterranean action plan (UNEP/MAP). It is coordinated by the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Energy of Slovenia. Financial resources are also contributed by the coastal municipalities.


Exercise for user
What kind of tourism can be developed to diversify the tourism product and to unburden the coast?


Further information

The historic town of Piran at Cape Madona, Slovenia. Foto: Jaka Adamic.

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