August 17, 2019 – After a very successful first year, the second Croatian Walking Festival will be held in Lika this September, in the towns of Gospić and Otočac.
This year, the host cities will be Gospic and Otočac, where several routes of different intensities will be walked to ensure everyone can participate. September 7 is thus reserved for Gospić, where all participants will master three trails of different lengths – 10+ 20+ and 30+ kilometers, symbolically called Tesla. One day later, on September 8, the event moves to Otočac for the Gacka trail, which is also 10+ 20+ and 30+ kilometers long. Thus, the Croatian Walking Festival is an interesting and commendable synergy between two towns – Gospić and Otočac, reports Goran Rihelj of HRTurizam.
About five hundred walkers participated in Lika last year, and organizers expect the figure to at least double this year. While these are small numbers, to begin with, the organizers expect about 2,000 overnight stays at this year’s edition, which is a more than excellent figure. The festival can surely become an excellent motive for arrivals, and in addition to walking, the tourism segment features the gastronomic offer and tourist facilities Lika has to offer.
Goran Rihelj writes that the Walking Festival is a brilliant example of the desire for positive change; a festival that has found their niche, boldly moved forward, and with a smart development strategy, could grow into a manifestation that attracts thousands of visitors and tourists in three years.
The Walking Festival is a unique sporting event in Croatia, and even after the first year, it has been recognized at the international level. Namely, in May, the Walking Festival began the process of joining the World Walking Federation (IML) and has the status of a candidate. Rihelj writes that this is the best proof that Croatia is following international trends, and the ultimate goal is to gather tens of thousands of walkers like similar events around the world that have been held for many years. Festivals of this kind have become popular with the masses, as walking is an activity that is increasingly gaining importance and professionalism. Because of this, some international festivals gather up to fifty thousand participants.
With global tourism trends that will grow even more, from ecology, organic food, nature, active rest, awareness for health and movement, it is not difficult to see Lika positioned precisely in this segment. Organic and local food from OPGs, nature and fresh air, forests, cycling tourism, walking, active rest and, of course, Tesla and Plitvice Lakes are big tourist magnets. Also, excellent investments in accommodation capacities have already been made in Lika, such as the Fenomen Plitvice, Plitvice Holiday Resort, and Big Bear Camping Resort.
However, Rihellj writes that the success and positive impact of Plitvice Lakes National Park are not enough, as it needs to be smartly managed to become a recognizable brand, with strategic and sustainable development.
Applications for the Walking Festival are open until August 30, and with the registration fee, participants can enjoy a shuttle service between the two cities, as well as official T-shirts, water and fruit. You can find more information here.
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