Izola: The pearl of Slovenian coast

Izola: The pearl of Slovenian coast

izola01_800TAT members on the terrace of Hotel delfin, above marina of Izola

Second stop of the DiscOver55 assessment tour, from 7th to 9th of June the city of Izola, Slovenia, hosted our team.

The mission was organized with the support of the national coordinator  Alenka Ogrin from ZDUS, Slovenian partner of the project DiscOver55, and it was focused on Izola main attractions and activities.

Hotel Delfin, a hotel which is mainly focused on senior tourists, and Izola Tourist Association were also actively involved in preparing and organizing this mission.

The pearl of Slovenian coast

Izola is an ancient settlement on the Istrian Peninsula in southwestern Slovenia. Much of the original town is still intact, dating back to the Roman period and showing traces of its medieval and modern past, when it belonged to the Republic of Venice and the Austrian Empire. The area is bilingual, with both Slovene and Italian spoken as official languages.

izola02_800Marina of Izola – panoramic view

Izola is a lively tourism destination during the summer season – form June to August – attracting national and foreign tourists as well, mainly from Austria, Germany and Italy.

Tourism is mainly based on cultural and natural heritage with a huge offer of events during high season. Izola city centre is the main pole of services and accommodation, while the town’s hinterland and the surrounding areas offer cultural and natural attractions of the Istrian hills. The city has a fair accommodation offer with many possibilities for an active holiday: festivals, local workshops (picking olives, discovering the vineyards, etc.), excursions, cycling, horseback riding, water sport practising and sailing.

The local gastronomy is rich and mostly Mediterranean, based on fish, home-made olive oil and wine.

izola03_800Cobbled streets in the city centre

Izola visit

izola04_800TAT members on the mission

Our team of evaluators set off to Izola bearing in mind the assessment criteria previously established, i.e. the four ETIS macro-indicators of Accessibility, Safety and Healthcare, Activities and Quality.

The TAT’s exploring activities and meetings with the local stakeholders were supported by simultaneous collections of data through field surveys (such as selected interviews) and a SME survey via questionnaire that was used in each DiscOver55 destination. The survey was prepared by local partner, Izola Tourist Association.

izola05_800In the Kneipp garden – latest acquisition of hotel Delfin, and a very popular attraction among senior tourists

The TAT programme for Izola and the sorrounding areas included 9 on-site visits to the main attractions, both cultural and natural, as Izola Lighthouse Beach, the Palace of Besenghi degli Ughi, Medljan tourist farm, and the city centre of nearby towns of Koper and Piran. In addition TAT members participated to the annual event of the Mussels Week (special offer), gathering firsthand experience of the local tourism offer.  It is planned to develop a walking route of green areas of Izola as one of the results of the project.

izola06_800TAT discuss  strengths and weaknesses of Izola as senior tourism destination

On the 8th of June the TAT met at the Delfin Hotel with a group of local stakeholders representatives of municipality, owners of restaurants, directors of hotels and national parks, olive oil producers, local tourist association etc.  The meeting tackled the main themes of DiscOver55: accessibility, health and safety, local activities, quality of offer and commercial strategies – bearing in mind the senior tourism target Very interesting feedback – opinion about Izola as a destination for senior tourists was given by Ms. Božena Rasmussen, a regular visitor of Izola from far away Faroe Islands. The final wrap-up meeting of the TAT members was the moment to share impressions and opinions on the visited destination. Members confronted notes and diaries written along the visits, and worked together to provide relevant information for the evaluation report and further steps of DiscOver55.

It has to be noted that the warm climate all year long allows Izola to expand the tourist offer to low and medium season, and that innovative concepts can be further developed to attract specific targets.

Complete results and recommendations of the visit will be soon available to local stakeholders and tourist service providers during a capacity building event to be held between September and October to share the findings.