Imagine having so much cultural richness at just a few pedal turns! Imagine that there are so many natural resources at just a few pedal turns…. Imagine what it would be like not to have to imagine. These are the words from the promotional video of the innovative cycling product – Bicycademies. A project that awake dreams and imagines the whole of Slavonia, as a cyclo region. The development of cycling tourism in Slavonia is not a matter of potential, but of a “butterfly” screaming to get out of its shirt and start flapping its wings. But let’s go in order, meet another great tourist story.It is a Bicikademija product that represents an innovative and interactive approach to the promotion of a certain area as a desirable cycling tourist destination. The bicycle academy consists of a web platform and a mobile application to which the user (Bike Student) registers, who receives a virtual index after this process. The index consists of studies that represent specific areas. Each Study consists of an exam (location). The Student’s task is to register and log in to the system, tour the locations by bicycle, check and take photos and thus take the exam. Exams do not have to be taken in a certain order, and currently the Bicycademy takes place in five Slavonian counties and the Istrian region. However, what makes the Bicikademija different and unique is that all locations, ie exams, represent the cultural and natural heritage of the given areas, ie a complete tourist product. Great story, isn’t it?I talked about the development of cycling tourism in Slavonia as well as the Cycling Academy with the passionate cyclist Krešimir Herceg from Slavonski Brod, who came to Slavonia by bicycle and came up with the idea of the Cycling Academy. The whole product is developed step by step, in accordance with the possibilities, but what is certain, and which Herceg itself emphasizes, Slavonia has a huge potential for the development of cycling tourism. Proof of this thesis is certainly the reaction of various cyclists who have just used the Bicycademy as a great bike platform and a blend with an authentic tourist story.The reactions of cyclists are excellent, both domestic and foreign, points out Krešimir Herceg, the originator and leader of the Bicycademy. “Cyclists accepted the whole idea and story of the Bicycle Academy very well. From the locals, who got a new challenge to drive to the given areas, because many did not know that such natural and cultural riches are at hand and at short distances, and foreign, who again in addition to these riches praise the hospitality of this area and gastronomic offer. They are also interested in the concept of the interactive approach of the BicycademySays Herceg.The whole product has been alive since 2014, and the most important thing has passed the main test – and that is the users / tourists. The bicycle academy has been used by over 500 cyclists for three years, which is just another proof of a successful concept, and it is a big wind in the back for future plans, which are certainly not lacking. “The plans are numerous. We are already in negotiations for the opening of new studies, in Croatia, but also abroad. The second segment is the redesign of the application and web platform that will become more attractive and easier to use for Bike Students, but will also provide us with new marketing tools. We will definitely increase the volume of marketing campaigns (like the Ideas campaign) with various goals. And the ultimate goal is to become a recognizable cycling brand. ” Herceg pointed out.It is estimated that there are over 60 million active cyclists in Europe, generating over 50 billion euros in consumption. Also, cyclists in the destination spend about 30 percent more than “classic” tourists, about 53 euros a day, most often travel in pairs or in a group of several people and are logically mobile and do not stay long in one place. Croatia, as well as Slavonia, certainly have a great opportunity in the development of cycling tourism, especially outside and after the “peak” tourist season, because the hot summer months are not ideal for cycling.Also, when we talk about the development of cycling tourism in Slavonia, we can certainly dedicate ourselves to weekend travel, especially because Slavonia is well connected by road and rail. Herceg agrees that Slavonia has great potential in cycling tourism, emphasizing that the cycling tourism potential of Slavonia is huge. “Primarily, I say this from the angle of many low-traffic roads on which Slavonia is networked, so for a start you do not need so much investment in road infrastructure. Slavonia also offers a hilly area for cycling and lowlands. It abounds in cultural and natural content that attracts cyclists, but also a rich eno and gastronomic offer. We have shown all this in the Imagine campaign, how it is all at our fingertips. Slavonia and Baranja are bordered by two EuroVelo routes, which are largely unused, and a third is being prepared, which would pass approximately along the Sava route.”Says Herceg and emphasizes that all these things should be in the service of tourism, and therefore cycling, and we have more than an excellent starting position.I constantly emphasize that we need to turn to branding tourist regions, from Slavonia to Istria, and the Bicycademy is another positive example of this thesis because it connects all Slavonian counties through bike tours, ie exams. Slavonia should be branded as one tourist product, ie the Slavonia brand, and not five separate tourist products. We currently have five Slavonian county tourist boards (Brod-Posavina, Vukovar-Srijem, Osijek-Baranja, Požega-Slavonia, Virovitica-Podravina counties) which each tell their own story, without such an important synergy.Osijek-Baranja or Brod-Posavina County means absolutely nothing to foreign tourists, but as a tourist brand Slavonia, certainly yes. Especially when we talk about cycling tourism, where the average cyclist travels at least 30 kilometers a day without any problems, and thus passes without being aware of one county to another, and we do not have a unique cycling tourism map or a complete tourist product. “It is aggravating that Slavonia consists of 5 entities that are subject to state organization and currently we cannot do too much there. I am definitely of the opinion that Slavonia, as far as tourism is concerned, must act as a whole, as one destination, especially in marketing appearances. At this point, it’s a little harder to do. And it’s not just about the maps, but about the entire offer of the destination. We were too small for a tourist to stay in one place for seven days”Points out Herceg and adds that the destination Slavonia can offer its existing content several unforgettable days to the most demanding tourist. Personally, I think that Slavonia has at least seven days of dense and rich tourist content that it can offer to tourists. And it has authentic content with different motives for coming.The entire platform should have the support of cities, counties and tourist boards because it gives them a tool that unites everything in one, from bike trails to tourist attractions, and in the synergy of forces can complete the development of cycling tourism. Of course, the serious development of cycling tourism requires a development strategy and investment in infrastructure, connecting all stakeholders in tourism, from cultural institutions to family farms, and ultimately to create a complete tourism product. Unfortunately, the whole project is not sufficiently recognized in Slavonia by cities and tourist boards, they simply did not even try to “use” it, and they should in any case because Slavonia has a huge potential for cycling tourism. “I can’t say there isn’t any progress, but negotiations and talks with the public sector are going slowly, often without communication, honoring the exceptions. What I can say is that we have achieved great things with some people and I think things are slowly moving from a stalemate as far as cycling tourism is concerned, but also the Cycling Academy. The good thing is that the Ministry of Tourism encouraged the counties to focus a little more on cycling tourism, so that this segment began to gain in importance in Slavonia as well. Strategies began to be worked out, examples of good practice applied. And thus the communication between the stakeholders improves. Although, experientially, in these areas there is always something better on the outside than a domestic productSays Herceg.If I were personally in the position of director of the tourist board (although I do not have those ambitions), I would immediately embrace this and all other tourist innovative stories, because I am offered a great finished tourist product that I need, and thus raise the quality of the tourist product. and eventually picked up the “icing on the cake”. This is exactly one of the missions of tourist boards, to recognize such individuals and ideas and to give them the wind in their backs, a win-win for everyone, and most of all for tourists.But to tell a story, it takes at least two. It is unfortunate that such ideas and products, ie individuals, cannot realize their ideas and visions in Slavonia, but must seek their “happiness” elsewhere. And again, Istria has recognized the potential of this whole story, and it is certainly no accident. And it’s not about money, it’s about people and the desire for quality development. Capital goes where it is desired, and so do all other projects and ideas. Until some new winds blow in Slavonia, the project is spreading to Istria who know very well what are the potentials and benefits of cycling tourism.In any case, Bicikademija is a great innovative and interactive product that, in cooperation with partners, could be a great story. The first and most important step has been made, the project is alive and well, and now it is up to others to give support both financially and logistically to bring the project to life on the ground in full glory as a rounded tourist story.Otherwise, tourist destinations are interested in it, they have almost a product, embrace it and tell stories together.