Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions association was launched in early 2016 for the promotion and coordination of activities in the field of tourism in the territory, which is characterized by the names of the two areas. It refers to 49 cities and municipalities, which are dominated by the residential towns of Kaplice, Trhové Sviny, Borovany, Velešín, Nové Hrady, Ledenice, Benešov nad Černou, Besednice, and Římov. Preliminary Preparations of the destination company were launched in early 2015, when a group of entrepreneurs, especially Mr Jaroslav Michal from Černé Údolí, Radek Kocanda from the League of Castles on the river Malše (Hrady na Malši), and Jaroslav Zeman from Dolní Dvořiště initiated the first meeting in Velešín, which was also attended by representatives of the towns and villages of the area and people from the local information centers. Everyone agreed that a destination management company should be started, which would aim to promote the territory of Novohradsko and Doudlebsko regions. Other participants on the project were the Local Action Group (LAG) Pomalší and the Association of the Roses, which are coordinators of the funds flowing in from the public purse. Already at the second hearing, which took place in Černé Údolí in the U Pralesa Hotel, the practical planning started. All such projects are associated with certain cash flows, and therefore it was necessary to plan the financing of the association. The baseline budget was presented in the first half of the year, which “scared” everyone but on the other hand, it showed how difficult the functioning and tasks of the association will be.

Supporting the development of destination companies by JCCR
In mid-2015, the new leadership of South Bohemia’s Tourism Board (JCCR) introduced a revolutionary concept. It anticipated that destination companies all over South Bohemia would be supported from public funds. In September last year, the preparatory committee Novohradsko-Doudlebsko started realistic talks about the commencement of activities. By the end of the year, the basic administrative steps were made with the real prospect of support from JCCR. The association strictly follows the JCCR’s methodology, specifying how such entities should operate. By the end of 2015, all initial steps were completed, including the management, auditing commission and other organs elections. Part of the support is also the cast of the product manager, who coordinates the project in direct contact with JCCR.

The formation of the Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions association
Registered association Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions officially exists since 5 January 2016. The aim of the association is to promote the region; the association can be a service provider, which can ensure revenue, and is the official and sole entity that is directly supported the South Bohemian region. Grants from the South Bohemian region have the function of supporting the first phase of the association’s operation, the majority of additional funds are expected to be provided by the association itself. South Bohemian region should further support development projects to promote tourism. An important role should be played by municipalities themselves as well as by entrepreneurs who are members of the association.

Generally, all of the South Bohemian areas are supported. A total of eleven destination companies are planned in the conception of JCCR, which would leave no space on the map „uncovered“. For example, one of the conditions is that the number of affected villages and cities must be at least twenty. All supported destination areas must meet the methodological parameters, which will provide them with JCCR’s certification. Only such certified associations are entitled to gain support from JCCR and at the same time a product manager, whose work is also funded by the headquarters. The Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions association is one of the first such companies.

How to define defined Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions territorially?
Novohradsko area is actually a “three-faced landscape.” It is a territory that has been united in the Association of the Roses and includes Borovany region, Trhové Sviny region and Nové Hrady region. When we imagine this area on the map, it begins with Ledenice in the north, towards the border with Austria, along the border of PLA Trebon to Nové Hrady. On the west side, it is a strip of land called Pomalší, bordered by the municipalities of Svatý Jan nad Malší or Strážkovice, to the largest town in the area Kaplice, and Dolni Dvořiště on the southern border with Austria. Doudlebsko area, with such municipalities as Římov and Velešín, then completes the entire destination area from the west. Simply put, Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions is the area between Novohradské mountains on the eastern side and the River Malše on the western side.

What are the goals of the destination club?
One of the goals is a common sensitive marketing approach in promoting the region; all entities will attempt to offer visitors a variety of options for activities so that they would stay longer than ever before. Therefore, it is necessary to describe all the possibilities and coordinated the approach. The „capacity“ of nature is limited and the intention is certainly not to overload this area with tourists. This would result in the devastation of the local natural beauty. In the first stage, the area should fully utilize existing capacity, and only later think of further development according to the demand of visitors. We call this soft tourism. Another goal is to restore forgotten stories that are associated with the local landscape. The stories can be explored, but before that they need to be rendered attractively. Novohradské mountains hide abandoned villages or hidden natural phenomena. Many visitors come to this area in order to explore the local region. Our common goal is to offer them some kind of a lead for their trip, or at least give them something to choose from. The specific objective of the association is to revive non-profit projects and products that may have existed several years ago, but disappeared due to termination of certain subsidy programmes. In collaboration with their creators, the destination company would be interested in their use. Interesting ideas, some relatively new, some long forgotten, will be restored and put back where they once belonged, for example three educational bicycle trails, which used to be maintained in Novohradsko region at the turn of the millennium. The trails connect the areas of Vitorazsko and Slepičí mountains. The panels with information and stories from the past still exist. Today, however, they require maintenance which they have not been getting for a while, and an audit of the trails is therefore necessary. It should be noted that this is not just this one particular case – many other trails have been lost in the recent decades, for example due to the floods in 2002. After mapping the current state, we can take the necessary steps for recovery. Another project that is being partially restored, is a project called Exploring the peaks, a challenge for hikers which consisted of collecting three seal imprints by conquering three different hills in the area. There was a reward in the end, such as a commemorative coin.
One of the priorities for the association are also cross-border projects with Austria. Such cooperation has existed before, such as marking hippotrails, and arranging changing stations for carts on them. Also this project ended because it could not find its long-term manager. Another priority is preserving typical products associated with the region. These can be completely invisible to visitors, and although it may only be interesting for a minority, they make sense for the development of the destination. Tourism can only work through the cooperation of all participants. This ensures the sustainability of the projects. The status of the association and its leadership is independent and has mainly a coordinating role, which means that is aims to transfer the practical knowledge and experience with operational models from region to region. And this is the very task for the association and its manager who deals with events in the region and, based on the demand of the members, suggests possible solutions. Another goal is linking the projects to the appropriate subsidy titles.

Prepared by Michal Jarolímek and Jan Bohdal

“It si not enough for tourists to simply visit the region. Finding suitable accommodation, catering and refreshments and, of course, adequate supply of attractions and interesting destinations worth visiting is a must. It is important to realize this, and join the individual goals of all entities that operate in the region in one common interest. We must not forget, that tourism is also related to road conditions. Therefore, the destination company also focuses its activities on this area. If the visitors of our region do not like the transport and infrastructure, they will find the area difficult to reach, and they will not be satisfied.”
Michal Jarolímek, Product Manager of Novohradsko-Doudlebsko regions association

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