The first workshop within the project ECOTOP 2 was held in Draganovec, not far from Kapronca, in a catering facility of Vidova Suza winery on 17 January. The workshop focused on the opportunities of including Roma population in ecotourism.
Dr. habil Viktória Szente (Kaposvár University) said in her presentation that there were two alternatives to choose from in connection with the inclusion of disadvantaged population: the inclusion of people with disabilities and that of Roma people. In the end, they decided to focus on the Roma population because of the Roma traditions and their growing numbers within the population. Their research examined possible ways to facilitate their integration and whether the characteristically Roma services would be possible to be included in the range of ecotourism services of the region.
Dr. Sandra Kantar (Krizevci College of Agriculture) presented the results of the Croatian research. She highlighted the products, events and services which could be included in the product and service range offered in the region in the ecotourism branch such as the International Roma Day, the fair of gypsy musicians, music, fortune telling, Roma dishes and authentic Gypsy houses.
A guest presenter of the event, Gyula Dudás, the president of the Zala County Association of the Physically Disabled said that their association is very active in tourism: for example they operate an apartment in Hévíz, they do tour guiding in the Őrség National Park and organise trips for their members. He pointed out that they are more than willing to participate in the next project.
The following presenter was Franyo Horvat, president of the Step-by-Step Association and of the Kapronca-Krizevci Roma Board. He described their activities aiming at the improvement of the quality of life of the Roma population in the region. He presented the project implemented in co-operation with the local government in the interest of the Romas. They received money and land from the town where they can grow vegetables for the factory of Podravka. This activity provides an income for 10-12 Roma families. The presenter added that it is also true that some of the Roma families chose not to work for a living because it would mean they would no longer be entitled to social benefits.
Iva Svircic representing the town of Kapronca talked about the activities that the local government performs for the benefit of the Roma population. They involve them in a number of town initiatives such as the garlic production project or basket weaving in which they support and help the Roma participants with various activities from rod growing to sales and event organisation.
Finally, the family business called “Pampa-Tea” introduced itself. The enterprise deals with manufacturing herb products complying with very strict regulations. They purchase their raw material – 60 types of herbs – from all around the country. Their products are sold in herb shops and pharmacies and they sell products to Singapore, Japan and the United States.