Croatia has for the first time been included in the World Tourist Organisation’s (UNWTO) compendium of examples of best practices of accessibility and inclusive tourism development in nature areas.
Namely, as part of the competition on Good Practices on Accessible Tourism in Rural and Nature Areas, the UNWTO included the Medvednica Nature Park project – Bliznec Forest Trail, the first educational trail in Croatia that is fully adapted to people with special needs, in terms of construction and content.
“The Bliznec forest trail is a cultural and tourist offer that has a positive impact on the well-being and improvement of the quality of life, and its special feature is its adaptation to visitors with disabilities. In its length of 800 meters you can explore educational boards that offer information about the picturesque history of this part of Medvednica and its flora and fauna. Through additional facilities, Nature Park Medvednica wants to contribute to the promotion of responsible, sustainable and modernly accessible tourism,”, said the director of the Nature Park Medvednica Marina Popijač.
Mount Medvednica in Zagreb is a very rare example of a nature park merging with a capital city. Bliznec forest trail is located by Bliznec stream near the most visited entrance to Nature Park Medvednica and is completely adjusted to visitors with disabilities. Apart from being completely available to people in wheelchairs, all texts are available in Braille so that the blind and the people with poor eyesight can read them. To prevent them from being damaged, the texts in Braille are placed in unique “Forest books”.
The trail follows the Bliznec stream on the Sljeme road to the Bliznec mill and is primarily made of wood, blending nicely with its surrounding. It finishes near the sawmill Bliznec where there is now a restaurant.
The Croatian National Tourist Board, in coordination with the system of tourist boards, last year invited tourist stakeholders to apply to be included in the UNWTO compendium, and between the two proposals that met the conditions, the Bliznec Forest Trail project was the best.
“For more than a year, the Croatian National Tourist Board has dedicatedly and intensively worked on the project of accessible tourism through daily cooperation with the UNWTO and members of the Working Group for Accessible Tourism. We are extremely proud that for the first time in history Croatia is included in this important compendium that will allow us to further position ourselves as a desirable tourist destination for every guest, emphasising easier access for people with disabilities to natural and cultural resources, routes and local heritage. On this occasion, I thank the Medvednica Nature Park for the good cooperation and I believe that in the future we will cooperate with other tourism stakeholders on projects of this importance,”said the director of the Croatian Tourist Board Kristjan Staničić.