One of the personal, inspirational stories on the conference in Zagreb, was that one of entrepreneur Didier Van Bellinghen, who created the beautiful and unique ‘Cast Away’ on the island of Hvar in Croatia. He did so by sharing the story behind his project and his vision of self-sustainable tourism to improve different areas that impact the development and management of tourism such as environmental protection. Also to inspire other young people to follow their own dreams and raise the low entrepreneurial culture of the country.
His story and vision was also selected and published in the Trans Turizam booklet with an integrated approach for the study of the transformative role of tourism in the 21st century.
With the challenge of the future of world tourism, the Institute for Tourism encourages the trend of ’new tourism’ where conscious hosts & travelers use tourism as a transformative medium to practice and promote the need for sustainability and how these so-called ’cultural creatives’ use travel to re-invent themselves and the world they live in.
The aim is to present personal inspirational stories who will inspire other entrepreneurs and young Croatian people, to find a way to sustainably use the rich resources of this country and follow their own dreams and projects.
Also to illustrate how transformative tourism has the potential to inspire a whole economy to nurture firstly values, based on sincere respect for resources, cultural and natural heritage, and secondly, the quality of interpersonal and intergenerational relationships where we all occupy an important role in the social and economic development.
The target of this project is the Croatian tourism industry/policy makers and the whole community to understand how we need to promote these other types of tourism, that will enhance diversity as well as protection of local, natural and cultural heritage.
CAST AWAY – THE STORY
Cast Away, recently opened (2016), is a family story that started a long time ago with a strong vision of my beloved mother. Married in Belgium but always in love with her beautiful Croatian sea, her vision was to live her life in a B&B and share this unspoiled nature with guests who value peace, serenity and tranquility. But when she was close to achieving her dream, she died of cancer. Many years later, I decided to finalize her dream. The B&B is not yet finished but I already created an ecological camp where people can completely separate themselves from the stress of modern life through the powerful beauty of nature and the sea here (no wifi, no electricity, no running water). My vision and mission is to show people that by disconnecting from their everyday life in a peaceful and healthy environment, they can fully recharge, resource and find their inner self again.
CAST AWAY – THE VALUES
Love and respect for nature and people; Authenticity; Simplicity; Flexibility
CAST AWAY – WHAT IS
A unique stay in a beautiful, peaceful and natural environment with plenty of activities such as hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding , windsurfing & mountain biking.
Yoga retreats to resource, slow down and reconnect with nature & your inner self.
Digital detox retreats for burn-out prevention where we work on a de-stressing program in a digital free environment with various activities at sea and the beauty of untouched nature.
CAST AWAY – VIEW OF TOURISM
What I’m offering is not a usual camp. It’s a place where everything is very intimate and in full respect of nature, where we raise awareness for our beautiful planet and how to preserve it with some simple measures we take in our daily lives. Guests are given a warm welcome as from the moment they arrive till the very end of their visit by my carefully selected staff members. My place attracts like-minded travelers who realize along the way how little they need to feel free and alive. Being part of nature and making friends from all over the world is what makes this place unique.
CAST AWAY – CHALLENGES ON THE ROAD
Complex legislation, especially with the language barriers being a foreigner. Slow administration and bureaucracy. Lack of clear constructive information & education from the local tourism & hospitality bodies. Some jealousy and misconceptions of my environment.
CAST AWAY – KEY ELEMENTS OF SUCCES
It’s not just a business. It’s a story of the heart. The type of guests I attract love that this place was built based on a personal story. They feel that I developed this place with passion and that I’m not just here for the money. It’s my way of life with respect for my mother’s vision. Guests appreciate the attention for small details. Every hut carries the name of my family members for example. A personal approach and a efficient communication with the guests is a crucial element of success. And the same goes for being innovative and strive for constant grow.
CAST AWAY – IMPACT
Most of my guests realize that they do not need much to be happy. They become more aware of the value of natural resources and gain freedom without the means of the internet. My personal dream and family story inspires them too and make them think about their own dreams, goals and potentials in life. The way this place and my approach affects people is nicely described by one of my guests:
‘Didier, you made a little vision in a vision of life !!! I will forever be thankful for what you said and showed me. I now realise I am in a position to become a leader and enjoy the rest of my life, exploring the natures of man. I’ve discovered that we can really make an impact on the 20 somethings, 30 somethings and beyond. I feel humbled by the opportunity to share history and dreams with you. Yes, next year we will give some travelers the time of their life in Croatia !!! As I had a wonderful time. Flexibility is what makes Givers like us worthy of receiving! ‘ (Jay Hafner, USA).
– The “Trans Turizam” project is an initiative of Dr Irena Ateljevic and the Croatian Office Of Tourism, supported by the Croatian Science Foundation –