European Boka 2020

By , 14 Aug 2018, 19:43 PM Lifestyle
Gunther Fehlinger Gunther Fehlinger Front Line News

By Gunther Fehlinger - 100 years ago Austria had to leave Kotor. The Austrian author of this article and homeowner in Morinj has doubt, this magic and unique Bay would be one of the richest parts of Europe today, no doubt it will be one day. Sadly, despite amazing progress, it is not today. When and in which state it will arrive at European prosperity levels,  well, that depends on decisions to be taken in the coming years on pricing on public goods and public space. The transport, infrastructure, and mobility aspects have been outlined in the article on Smart Mobility for Montenegro from July 2018 in Total Montenegro News– the aspects on urban planning, Cadastre, and property related are widely discussed and after a wild decade of amazing progress on the reasonable trajectory.

Now the author would like to invite the interested reader on an online journey to other parts of the Former State Kotor was once part just a hundred years ago and visit Austria, Italy and Croatia 3 relevant and comparable countries with centuries-old ties to Montenegro and a common future in EU and with amazing touristic, natural and cultural assets similar to the Kotor Bay.

No doubt, the Kotor Bay is an amazing treasure of natural beauty but so are the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, the Attersee and Hallstatt Lakes in Upper Austria, the Alpine village Alpbach in Tyrol, Como and Bibione, Italy and Istria, Croatia. The selection is not random. These are among the most successful tourist destination in rich Central Europe around the Alps within driving distance of Vienna, Prague, Munich, Zurich, Frankfurt and Milan and soon these rich regions will be a bit closer to Montenegro. Soon the Adriatic Highway will be finished, Montenegro is already in NATO, hopefully soon in EU and well it might be 2021 as the author advocates or 2029 as some pessimist assess but Montenegro will be in EU, has already the Euro, and will be in Schengen in the 2030ies. Well and a hidden gem the Boka might be still but with a decade of promotion and the success of Porto Montenegro and the opening of Porto Novi next year well there is no doubt the Boka is entering the next stage of development.

But is it ready? And what can we learn from other central European tourism magnets relevant for the Kotor Bay? A virtual tour for free can be undertaken easily so let us fly first to the Plitvice lake some 400 km north in Central Croatia. One day for an adult to enter that natural Park is for no less than 34 Euro per day. Is the Boka any less stunning than the amazing Plitvice? And the Boka any truck driver from Bosnia or Albania can pass for free – happily saving the ferry fee at Kamenari and crushing along the UNESCO bay and the families at the beaches and stopping only once at the traffic jam in Kotor or when to take pictures of the most stunning bay of Europe and passing it for free. Let us fly another 400 km north to the Attersee. One of the most amazing prime Alpine lakes where Russian Oligarch spends millions for lakeside properties and the Austria and German Old Money is happily united during summer vacations. A bit like an Austrian variant of the USA Maine Coast for the US readers. Well to swim in that lake, owned the Austrian State Forest Holding Company you might be surprised to pay 18 Euros minimum. Well, it allows you 5 days access to the lake but still for a one day jump in the 21-degree cold lake quite a steep price. - Wild bathings it not allowed, only for property owners there are berths and private lakeside access despite it being a public asset to the public as to pay to swim. And Austria is a social welfare state, be sure about it. There are cheaper options for family yearly cards to make life cheaper for residents and long terms holidaymakers costing 204 Euros per family and season. It is worth it. Attersee and the public beaches are amazing. But more amazing than the magic Kotor Bay? In Morinj, Risan, Ljuta, and all the 14 official beaches of the UNESCO protected Kotor Bay you can bath for free and if you consume coffee or rent a 2 Euro sun chair it is up to you. Welcome to paradise Guns and Roses sing where a pint of beer is for 1,2 and a sun chair for 2 Euro. But the hygienic, water, safety, access and parking standards at the Attersee beaches are world class. The Attersee is proud to have drinking water quality. Well, let us fly from Attersee south then to the most amazing UNESCO lake we have in Austria. Hallstatt, a cradle of European civilization, no less than 7000 years document history and now copied by the Chinese who simply build a second one in China. One might be excused to mix Hallstatt with Kotor online, it looks quite similar but Kotor is a bit – a lot - warmer in summer and much warmer in winter. . Well UNESCO is not only for Kotor and the way Hallstatt is handling no less than half a million visits every year might be a role model for Kotor. And despite all the top-quality parking facilities and guidance system in Hallstatt, it is a challenge. And Kotor is now at 150.000 yearly victors and how to cope with 3 times the number? And is Kotor the same as Hallstatt? No sea in Hallstatt and the summers might be rainy and cold. Still no less than half a million consumers all year long. The Old Emperor preferred that climate at a time before air conditioning but Hallstatt half million is not the limit for Kotor after 2020 when it comes to interest and magnetism. Well, but there is no doubt every public official in Kotor should visit Hallstatt and talk and learn.

Well, so let us fly to the most beautiful village of Austria. There is competition on that title in Austria and Alpbach works hard to be on the top, again and again, every year and compete with other global brands in winter tourism like Kitzbuehl, Solden, and Ischgl so there is strong competition in the Alps but Alpbach win the beauty contest - check yourself at Summer is here key to study as the Tyrolean Alps are full to capacity in winter.

Like the Boka in summer, but how to get tourists to the mountains to fill the accommodation during the year? Was that happening somehow automatically or was there some strategy and planning and smart tactics applied what is your guess? Why are most people hiking in Austria in October and why not in Montenegro? Did Austrians hike in the 1960ies? So is the Gratlspitz the magic mountain of Alpbach more amazing than mythic Lovcen? Is there more of less rain in Alpbach than in Kotor in October? What was first,  the interest of the consumer to hike, spa, attend congresses and events or the interest of the tourism industry, and the accommodation providers and the regional and national authorities to ensure Tyrolean Alps are inhabited and prosperous all year long? Is it terrible in Kotor in winter? Is it colder in Kotor or Vienna, far from the slopes of the Alps and on New Year’s Eve and you know how many tourists celebrate New Year’s in Vienna in 2017 and how many in 1987? No, it is a question of the national strategic approach to tourism that matters. Smart strategy and learning from the best. And understanding the interests of all stakeholders and not fighting with each other. Public Authorities of all levels, village, municipalities, region, state and EU, untied with the accommodation providers, small, big, private and hotels, the event and tour operators and the cultural heritage community and the food and restaurants, bars and disco and the transport providers have to work together hand in hand. It starts from scheduling the school holidays to the health care system, to agricultural and land planning to the transport and tax authorities, if a nation wants to be rich by and with tourism all have to work united to achieve Austrian Tourism Magic success. Remember Alpbach was as poor as hell in the before tourism was started and it was started to make Alpbach rich and it worked. The amazing success of Alpbach shows as well the funny antagonism between private provider and business providers which plagues the debate in Croatia and starts here is nonsense. Cleary the private providers have to pay tax both income and tourist and register their guests and clearly all benefit and complement because the consumer decides where to stay and all property owners have right to work their capital and market their assets and ensure consumer satisfaction best expressed by buying the same products again. And here personally bonds matter most. So yes, to private accommodation. How does Alpbach support private accommodation? Alpbach can be reached from Mega City Munich in 2 hours so who needs to stay and buy a 140 Euro flat per night when he can drive home in 2 hours. So Alpbach has that card each accommodation provider issues to the client and so you can use a lot of facilities for the free, even the gondola in the summer. Well not in winter at peak season but it matters during the summer when demand is weaker. And clearly, Alpbach has events, Congress and the Forum Alpbach to spread the fame of Alpbach in the political world. Well we come back to the issue of which is key the harmony of accommodation providers when we fly to Istria but let us fly further we cannot stop over the Alps, we could fly to the Italian twin of Kotor in Como Lake and learn a lot but like lake Ferries and maritime transport as covered in Smart Mobility for Montenegro and Como is quite similar to Hallstatt. We can learn little new in terms of pricing of public space and goods.

Let us fly instead of the coast to Bibione, the most famous of the Northern Italian beach resorts, part of the Venice and relevant as Kotor Bay is not an Alpine lake but the seaside resort as well. The prices are of interest again. Well, prices matter for consumers choices. Well it is quite similar structure – complicated more than in Austria but the idea is simple, 200 for years to make it cheaper for locals and long-termers and quite expensive for short-term visits if you add a sun chair, reservation, extra chair who knows what else they charge you there. Better not go and fly on to Istria, the famous mixture between Italy Croatia and Austria and so popular today and what can we learn for the future of the Kotor Bay from Istria? Take a look – Istria is booming. Please note that all these pricing systems are working in EU they are EU law compatible as they do not discriminate based on nationality but on residence no matter which nationality. But back to Istria what can be learned from that amazing part of Croatia? Check the Domus Bonus system to bring the private accommodation providers in the real economy and make them partners of the tourism industry and regulate them and incentivize them for better services, tax payment and better standards and this matters for many reasons not at least to ensure prosperity in every house and family in the touristic region. And this matters as all house and families in such reason have to be part of the success. You need people to live there to work, to entertain and to talk to tourist, not machines or robots. You need as well an electorate and public seeing and feeling and participating in the property to endorse the changes required in the political system like an obligation to connect to canalization for secure the water quality, or the traffic limitations or the pricing systems. Well, and each house is a family, a voting group and if tourism is only for resort and hotels and not for private accommodation providers well a lot of voters do not take part and will oppose the prosperity for others. In Alpbach, all benefit and every house is a tourist asset and every family whatever the profession on daytime is as well as the touristic operator for breakfast and dinner and each room is a business asset. And it works. Sure, Istria authorities have learned from Austria so why does Kotor not learn from Istria?

Well, many will say all this does not matter and the Boka is special, we were always the best in tourism in Tito times and true but special are all these amazing assets from Alpbach to Como, Plitvica to Hallstatt and arrogance does not help.

What is now the best mix in terms of pricing for the public goods and public space for the Kotor Bay? Well a mix of all these or none of them?  These are acrimonious debates everywhere; do you think the Alpbach residents like to pay the same for ski lifts like Germans in winter? Do you think the Italians like the Bibione peak season prices? Do you think the tourists in Boka enjoy the trucks crushing the ferry fees and speeding along the beaches? Do you think the Austrians and Italian from Vienna or Milan prefer Attersee or Como for free or they like to pay 20 Euros a day for jumping in a lake just on official places? Do you think that Croatians like to visit Plitvice Lake for 100 Euro for a family of four? Do you think a holiday at the seaside if a social right for free for all inherited by nationality or who has what access for how much at which time of the day?

Yes, and who has asphalted Perast, the most magic of all cultural heritage Venetian pearl in stone from a millennium and now asphalted down in highway style? Well, and building the Adriatic highway to Herceg Novi into and over Boka and then asphalting everything and building free parking places in massive size and best flyovers and bridges and tunnels so much as the budgets and EU transfers allow and then bussing Chinese groups from site to site for as low a price as you can get is this the future you like? Or better-getting things right with pricing for public goods from the start and, yes some complicated debates on beaches access, pricing of access and transit, parking fees and entry tickets might be painful but can they really be avoided? The recommendation of the author is to visit all these places and learn and study and adapt. The best system might be mix, an entry fee for the Kotor Bay per day levied by the choking points in Lipci, Verige, Tivat Tunnel and Cetinje Road for 35 Euros per day per person no matter if you arrive by car, bus or boat which they will be accredited to the accommodation via such BokaKotorska Card like in Alpbach. So only staying at least one night inside to sleep in the Kotor Unesco protected bay will reduce to the cost of the visitors who stay in Kotor with accommodation. And suddenly all voters will consider tourist on boats and busses as welcome revenue bringers. And for residents, property owners and long-term guests to offer yearly passes as well for the neighboring municipalities. And such a card then to allow access to the beaches, museums and future gondolas and indoor swimming pools and other all year attraction which will be built with the revenues collected with such a system. And for the beaches an access system like at the Attersee and well either to pay or you do not swim, but all on a basis to have a yearly system ensuring all resident have reasonable access. Combined with a parking fee system covering all Kotor municipality, an entry fee system for the UNESCO Bay and a paid beach access system and such an Alpbach style card well significant revenues can be collected. To build such revenue system it sound more complicated than it is, once there is will to do it, and no doubt it is necessary and will be accepted once clear that the revenues will be used to build the European style infrastructure with roads, gondolas, hiking paths, canalization, beach hygienic installation and museums and attractions, events and cultural activities standard in Europe and allows tourist more to discover than sitting on the beach, waiting for the next truck to honk and shake you off your dreams. And the dream is to have a Bay of Kotor, a Bokakotorska much better managed, available to much more visitors but on a much more expensive but much more comfortable manner and by that lifting residents in the Bay and investors and workers in the Boka tourism industry to a such a level that more people can live here all the time of the year and not only in Porto Montenegro. The Tivat- Kumbor Bay has achieved its transformation as the Monaco of Montenegro as the Maritime Mega Resorts Bay for the rich of the world and Herceg Novi Bay has Dubrovnik as its role model. But there is only the Inner Kotor Bay protected by UNESCO and for a reason. And where what is the vision for the Boka Kotorska? The Author hopes one similar to Plitvice-Alpbach-Hallstatt prosperous and full of tourists all year round but reasonable priced and well organized. So still the world can enjoy the most magic bay of the Balkans and residents can afford it but no longer for free for all at all times. Certainly, such changes are coming but certainly, it is painful as it is the charm of post-YU nostalgia has to come to an end. Similar like the cars have disappeared from the beaches just 3 years ago similar changes will be implemented once there is a public consensus that all stakeholders’ residents, tourist, visitors, investors and consumers want to reach the next level of prosperity, Plitvice and Istria is already there, the take-off, turn around just fresh from some 5 years ago, now Piltivce has Chinese policemen dispatched to guide the stream of visitor ready to pay 34 Euro as day for walking past waterfalls without being allowed to swim and why should the Boka not reach a similar level of development and prosperity. No doubt, certainly it would be already as rich as Attersee if it would be part of Austria still. And why please not overtake Hallstatt, Alpbach, and Como. The potential of nature is there, the first 12 years are amazing, a bit of smarter public pricing policy and allowing most to participate and why not surprise the world, again. 

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