Our project team is coordinating preparation of the strategy and action plan for bear management in Slovenia. During the process, the need to prepare legal framework for commercial bear watching activities that would prevent potential negative effects of this activity on bears, while providing economic benefits for local community, became more and more evident. In order to prepare starting points for the preparation of the legal framework proposal, we have organized a consultation entitled “Bear as a Value in Tourism”. We invited decision makers, large carnivore experts, representatives of special purpose hunting grounds, local tourism organizations and travel agencies marketing bear related tourism products. We discussed positive and negative impacts tourism might have on bears and opportunities for the local communities in the bear area. Together with the representatives of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning we have visited best practice example of bear watching tour on the field.
Based on the consultations and field visit, we have prepared recommendations for the legal regulation of bear watching activities for the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning. In addition to the proposal for the legal framework, we made recommendations regarding operators eligible for bear watching activities, tour guides, bear watching hides, supplemental feed for attracting bears and spatial limitations of bear watching activities.