Jezersko ever bigger draw
Jezersko, a valley of green meadows nestling among the majestic mountains of northern Slovenia, is an increasingly popular destination among foreign visitors. Its tourism figures tripled in the last ten years.
Investments in tourist accommodation facilities are one of the reasons for the climbing visitor numbers and the other is that the destination made the regional list of mountaineering villages.
Even though it was not damaged by the recent floods, Jezersko has seen a decrease in visitor numbers over the past two weeks.
Mayor Andrej Karničar says the disastrous floods that hit Slovenia in early August scared visitors and dissuaded them from coming. However, he still expects a record-breaking season.
"They are still afraid. Many are asking if Jezersko can be accessed, if the roads are open, while many don't even call and go elsewhere," said Aleš Petek from the Jezersko Tourist Board.
The Sheep Ball held traditionally on the second Sunday of August saw 40% fewer visitors than normally this year.
Poor weather this summer has impacted negatively on daily visitors, while accommodation was still quite busy before the storms hit.
Looking at another record season
Still, tourists are returning, says the mayor's wife, Polona Virnik Karničar from the Šenkova Domačija farm stay, which saw most cancellations right after the floods and mostly for the campsite.
The number of nights tourists spent in Jezersko this year is similar to last year. "Last year we surpassed 30,000 nights, and we have reason to expect that we will outdo that record number this year," said Mayor Karničar. Ten years ago the municipality did not hit even 10,000 nights per year.
Every year there is more accommodation and activities available, said Karničar, adding that "people are starting to see that there is an opportunity here and that they have something to offer". Investments are coming from locals and elsewhere, while the municipality provides basic infrastructure.
Jezersko currently has some 650 beds, including campsites and mountain lodges.
The average stay is 2.5 nights with foreign tourists accounting for some 75%-80% of nights spent.
Many visitors choose to visit Jezersko after seeing it on the list of mountaineering villages, which showcases Alpine villages in Austria, Italy, Germany and Slovenia. Jezersko made the list in 2018.
Tourists appreciate the nature, mountains and tranquillity Jezersko offers. Apart from the surrounding mountains a major draw here is the heart-shaped Planšar Lake.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie spent a honeymoon in Jezersko in August 2022.
Commitment to sustainability
As a mountaineering village, the Jezersko municipality is committed to sustainability.
To cap the number of visitors to the most busy area, parking in the Ravenska Kočna Valley has been limited to 100 cars. The entrance fee is €10.
"There were some objections at first, but most people are pleased that the valley is not full of metal but full of nature," said Karničar, adding that they will adopt a similar system in the Planšar Lake area.
On weekends transfers to the Ravenska Kočna Valley and to tufa-forming springs in Spodnji Virnik are provided. By encouraging trips to other nearby valleys they are trying to reduce the pressure on the Ravenska Kočna Valley.