October 16, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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Kiska came, but "conservatives" are scared

Kiska came, but “conservatives” are scared

The participation of former president Andrei Kisek in the RATTATA podcast sparked a lot of controversy and a very tough discussion on the social network. Politics – although we only talked about it marginally – may be.

But it’s not so much about that. Andrei Kiska was ready to talk to me about the Tatras, tourism and nature conservation. Although the former president was not and never was a professional protector, there were certainly many people among his supporters who would call themselves protectors without hesitation. Remarkably, the vast majority of them refuse any discussion of these topics with me.

So that we understand each other. I’m not cocky nor offended by their rejection, but I’m sorry. Because I want to talk to these people about combining tourism with nature conservation, and I even want to help them in many ways.

Tatry Mountain Resorts (TMR) is one of the world’s leading European tour operators. We are not a garage company, but a public joint stock company that operates transparently in four European countries.

Our business is often located in national park lands or protected areas. So the issue of environmental protection is of primary concern to us, we care about it and work actively with it.

Quite simply, I think that if we count everything TMR and its people have done in recent years in protecting the environment and nature as such, we can safely declare that we are one of the greatest conservationists. But perhaps this is what the “true protector” badly listens to, or rather they do not even want to hear.

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Now it is important for these people to realize what and why they are making a mistake.

Let’s take an example. We all know, plus or minus, that the chemical industry, for example, is harmful to the environment. For decades, even under pressure and often in direct cooperation with conservationists, the industry has taken a huge number of actions that fundamentally improve the situation. Of course, even today we will find people who believe that we do not need plastics or fertilizers, but they always will be. This tremendous progress in the environmental field is essential.

Tourism is also developing. If you wanted, for example, to build a cable car to Lomnický štít today, it would be without a chance. If you want to weave today’s Austrian, Italian or French Alps with the network of cable cars and lifts located there, it will make you laugh. But these things are already there, millions of tourists go there and live from them whole regions. Just like with us.

The sages have long understood that it makes no sense to demolish old things, but to improve them. This is exactly what tourism and its relationship to nature conservation is all about.

This is exactly what we aim at at TMR. We do not want to spontaneously build and build in our centers. In many cases, we are also vehemently opposed. We want to fix things, rebuild them, and especially improve them. In terms of protecting the environment and nature as such.

This is why I am inviting the mother-in-law for a discussion and I support that discussion. If the Austrians, the French, the Swiss or the Italians knew and knew, we would for sure know that too. Personally, I know very well the performance of the so-called eco-resorts in the world and my goal is to follow this path in our country as well.

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But this is a very difficult road, as you face thousands upon thousands of administrative and technical problems. And most importantly – you also need support for this, and you need to put pressure on the officials to make it possible for you legislatively.

Thus, the army of Slovak environmentalists, who easily and quickly “line up” in any campaign against something, can most effectively unite in the fight for something. The world will not get better through populist petitions, but through real actions and steps that require much more than simply wanting to sign the Tenth Green Petition.

But first we have to start listening to that first. And conservationists will have to realize that many people in practice know the things that matter to them, and the many things that are important to their goals.

No, I’m not saying I can be a true conservationist emulation in the knowledge of nature conservation. But I am 100% sure that with such a person (if we listen) we can develop projects that will really help nature and not harm tourism.

That is why, and only because I advocate such a debate, I am sorry that conservationists reject it.

The author is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of TMR, p