Equestrian tourism and horse breeding in Hungary and Slovenia – environmental sustainability and conservation of cultural heritage: a strategic approach
Keywords:Equestrian tourism, destination management, carrying capacity, horseback hiking, sleighing, horse sledding, equestrian therapy, Balaton Ecomuseum, intangible heritage
Historically, horse-breeding and riding has been an integral part of Hungarian and Slovenian culture for over a thousand years. In a broader sense, the equestrian sector includes all related activities, without which the efficient operation of the sector is unthinkable. Examples include infrastructure development, fodder production, veterinary services, the institutional system operating in the sector (public and non-governmental organizations, etc.). In the narrower sense, the equestrian industry is the sum of all areas where the horse is the main driver of its operation. This includes all areas of horse-related activities, such as all-inclusive education, use of horses in organic agriculture, horse breeding, equestrian tourism, horse racing, traditional historic horse-events, equestrian therapy, recreational riding and horseback riding are key elements. A feasibility study was carried out in the Hungarian – Slovenian border region to explore the possibilities for joint cross-boundary development of horse-based tourism. Hungary's and Slovenia’s contemporary natural qualities provide excellent opportunities for equestrian tourism. The starting point for formulating cross-boundary equestrian programme is that the mutually reinforcing, complex and holistic development of each sub-area can only produce results. We have identified the strategic goals of equestrian tourist destination development: a) people-centred and long-term profitable development; b) improvement of tourism reception conditions; c) attraction development, including target-group oriented special programmes; d) human resource development and equestrian education; e) PR and marketing; f) regulatory interventions / measures, which can be effective if they work closely with businesses, NGOs and the public sector (municipalities, government agencies), including conservation of horse-related material and intangible cultural heritage.
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