Główne kierunki i problemy rozwoju turystyki narciarskiej w Republice Słowackiej
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Ski tourism is one of the most prospective kinds of tourism in Slovakia. Favourable physical and geographical conditions of the country have stimulated development of skiing and the creation of ski centres that have become the centres of winter tourism. Because of mass character of skiing, the construction of ski lifts and means of transport, their technical and technological modernizations, as well as the development of services have become important pre-conditions for the development of ski tourism. Ski localities and centres are situated almost all over the territory of Slovakia, but their largest concentration is in northern Slovakia. They are concentrated in nine regions of tourism where also the most important international tourist centres are situated. Not only old ski and tourism centres have been developing, but also new ski centres, the so-called "greenfields" have been created, such as, for example, Valčianska Valley in the Malá Fatra Mountains near Martin. The development of ski tourism causes, undoubtedly, various problems and negative impacts on various spheres: 1. Some ski centres are situated in the protected areas of the Natura 2000 network. The ongoing considerable construction and its extension usually do not comply with regional ecological regulations. Moreover, the construction causes undesirable changes in the physiognomy of the area and leads to the loss of its authenticity (for example, the construction and architectural chaos in the Donovaly centre). 2. Big investment projects in the centres situated in the protected areas are in contradiction with the constraints of nature conservation. That is why the investors try to change the zoning system in these regions. As a response to this, environmentalists, ecologists and foresters show negative attitudes and opinions regarding the investor's intentions and plans. 3. Just like in the Polish ski centres (Mika 2009), there are legal issues concerning the relations between the plot owners and ski-lift service providers in Slovakia. 4. Especially smaller areas (closely connected with mountain hotels) that do not have snow cannons are dependent on snow and weather, which means that during dry winters they cannot operate. 5. Ski centres which obtain considerable grants from the European Union are rather bigger than small. Smaller ski centres therefore suffer from lack of money necessary to maintain their operation. 6. Not only ski tourism but tourism in general and its development are negatively influenced by the world economic crisis. In regard to the modernization of ski infrastructure, large Slovak ski centres are comparable to Alpine centres. The management of these centres endeavours to extend the stay of the tourists in these centres from one-day to longer stays, especially by offering the tourists advantageous tourist packages including ski passes. What is important here, it is the willingness of service providers to cooperate. Tourists' most favourite activities are the visits to thermal out-door and in-door pools situated close to the ski centres, the co-operation with the spa centres, and wellness activities. Additional services are also provided. To attract visitors, the centres of the international importance organize regular events such as sled dog race in the Donovaly Mountains. The main strategy of these centres is to change their character from seasonal to year-round centres like the resorts of Vysoké Tatry-Starý Smokovec, Vysoké Tatry-Tatranská Lomnica or trbské Pleso. From the regional point of view, it is important to maintain and support smaller ski centres as the complementary areas to big ski centres. Smaller centres provide especially urban population with peaceful rest and an escape from the civilization stress. The smaller centres have better predisposition for the development of ecotourism which would not be in contradiction with the environmental protection of the country. They can also potentially offer job opportunities for the local inhabitants whose employment in mountain villages is problematic.
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