In 2015, 18 municipalities along the river Drava, i.e. Dravograd, Muta, Vuzenica, Radlje ob Dravi, Podvelka, Lovrenc na Pohorju, Selnica ob Dravi, Ruše, Municipality of Maribor, Duplek, Miklavž na Dravskem polju, Starše, Hajdina, Municipality of Ptuj, Markovci, Gorišnica, Ormož, Središče ob Dravi, 3 development agencies (RRA Koroška d.o.o., Maribor Development Agency p.o., Scientific Research Centre Bistra Ptuj), and the Maribor – Pohorje Tourist Board signed the Agreement on the support of a project proposal – SPATIAL SITING AND MANAGEMENT/COORDINATION OF PROCEDURES FOR DEVELOPMENT/CONSTRUCTION OF THE DRAVA CYCLING ROUTE BETWEEN DRAVOGRAD AND SREDIŠČE OB DRAVI AS PART OF THE DRAVA BASIN SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT PROJECT. The project leader is RRA Koroška, which manages the procedures for siting and constructing the Drava Cycling Route (DCR) in 18 municipalities, and coordinates activities with the Slovenian Infrastructure Agency. The project workgroup considered the establishment of the Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route as a reasonable continuation of the project. The purpose of the partnership is primarily a better integration of 18 municipalities along the river Drava in project execution, better cooperation with other stakeholders (e.g. service providers), and a stronger and more unified interaction with national authorities associated with the project. The partnership was established in June 2016, with partnership president Leo Kremžar. At the 2nd Meeting of the Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route, held in November 2016, Maribor – Pohorje Tourist Board presented to all municipalities a proposal for a website, visual identity, maps, the process for including providers, and promotion. These activities represent an upgrade to the marking of the Drava Cycling Route and the basis for subsequent marketing. The new website www.dravabike.si allows equivalent cooperation with the Austrian side. Maribor – Pohorje Tourist Board is the lead partner for marketing and promotion of the Drava Cycling Route. The municipalities participating in the Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route and the Slovenian Infrastructure Agency finance certain promotion-related activities. At the end of 2017, the Drava Cycling Route is fully marked with new signposts in its entire length of 145 km between the border crossings Vič pri Dravogradu and Središče ob Dravi. The route is marked with information boards in accordance with the new Rules on traffic signs and equipment on roads. The boards are red and include the Drava Cycling Route logo of all four countries. The costs of information board purchase and replacement were covered by the Slovenian Infrastructure Agency.
Key conditions for success
A very successful route in Austria - Drava Cycling Route in Carinthia is a very popular long distance-cycling route. ADFC (German Cyclist’s Association), the most important international organisation for classification of cycling routes, marked the Drava Cycling Route in Austria with five stars, the highest possible grade for an individual route in Europe, making this route one of only four cycling routes in Europe with the highest grade. The establishment of the Partnership for the Drava Cycling Route in Slovenia is the first such a cooperation and the best practise in developing the long distance routes (developing the infrastructure & tourist product at the same time). Slovenian Infrastructure Agency will use this model in developing also other long distance routes in Slovenia.
Key steps for activity implementation
The purpose of the partnership is primarily a better integration of 18 municipalities along the river Drava in project execution, better cooperation with other stakeholders (e.g. service providers), and a stronger and more unified interaction with national authorities associated with the project. Our goal is to build such a good infrastructure and connect all possible providers along the ways that also Slovenian part of the Drava Bike route will get the 5 stars according ADFC classification. More info: https://dravabike.si/en/gradimo-za-vas. In the meantime we also work strongly on common marketing with Austrian and Croatian partners (right now we are preparing a new common image folder of all 510 km together). We also try to connect the route until Osijek. And we are not only working on the Drava Bike route but also on new products along the river Drava, Drava Festival (which connects all event along the river Drava, www.dravafestivals.si) and Drava splash (which offers water, adventure and thematic tourist programmes, www.dravasplash.si).
Difficulties encountered/ lessons learned
The Drava Bike Route did ’’exist’’ in Slovenia for more than 15 years, but was never really managed as one route. As long, we did not start to develop the route after cycling standards for long distance routes, build the route and really connecting the whole route, we were not successful. So we created a really good model for cooperation that can be used in all other areas. But there is still among all the institutions, financial resources, very important to have a good human resources, which are fully devoted to develop a route and a tourist product. In November 2018 we did organize an event where we did show our model to all municipalities and regions in Croatia which are along the river Drava to copy it and start to build the route also in Croatia. To develop a partnership as ours and work out the route until Osijek. Some of the tourist providers are already very aware about the importance of cycling tourism but not all of them and not all are at the same level. So we need to teach them about cycling tourism, what are the needs of cyclists, marketing, etc.
More about the sections and the tourist providers (tourist farms, accommodation, maps, weather, bike rentals, other services etc ) you can find at https://dravabike.si/en/ and www.dravabike.org.
Human resources (very important is to have a coordinator for infrastructure and coordinator for developing the tourist product and marketing), infrastructure costs (cooperation with local, regional and national institutions, especially with Slovenian Infrastructure Agency and municipalities to join the project (support of mayors in Partnership for the Drava cycling route), marketing costs, common EU project cooperation.
Would you like to know more?
Visit the website of the project for more details or contact the author.
Maribor - Pohorje Tourist Board
+386 2 234 66 09