Tourism zoning plan challenged

The government’s eagerly awaited special zoning plan for tourism development is coming under heavy criticism from a major consultative body. Sources say that according to the Economic and Social Affairs Committee (OKE), which comprises union and employers’ representatives, the specific plan for tourism presents greater problems than two similar zoning drafts for renewable energy sources and industry. OKE reportedly takes the view that the tourism zoning plan is biased toward a particular mode of development and that its treatment of problems arising from tourism investments is inadequate. In particular, these shortcomings include a limited reference to upgrading existing tourist zones, inadequate restrictions on building outside town plans, the lack of a clear system of entrepreneurial criteria and priority zones (especially in the case of alternative forms of tourism), and inadequate provision for improving the characteristics of mechanisms for the zoning of tourism activities. Holiday homes OKE is also said to take the view that the draft plan’s treatment of the very important issue of holiday home developments is also questionable. While this is a sector which can provide considerable opportunities for investment and effectively redraw the country’s tourism map, the zoning plan fails to provide adequate guarantees that its development will not result in undesirable side effects. «This is mainly due to the fact that it does not include satisfactory and convincing terms of reference for zoning with regard to this type of development,» the sources say. Furthermore, the zoning plan includes provisions that may even function as obstacles to investment, either directly (due to lack of clarity) or indirectly, because of inadequate provision for equitable treatment of the parties involved. The plan is running five months late compared to the date originally announced. It was launched by the Environment and Public Works Ministry in May last year as the basis of the consultation process with interested parties, which was completed at the end of summer. The latest development is the submission of proposals by the Tourism Ministry. These include the concept of separately examining each destination in order to determine the potential for development. It is argued, for instance, that an already popular and developed destination must be treated differently to an undeveloped one.