Slovenien täcks till sextio procent av gröna skogar och har en av Europas största biologiska mångfald. Huvudstaden Ljubljana har blivit utsedd till Europas grönaste stad och hela landet vann i våras kategorin Destination Leadership på den prestigefyllda tidningen National Geographics World Legacys Awards för sitt målmedvetna arbete att göra landet till en hållbar destination.
Slovenien vann i våras kategorin Destination Leadership i den prestigefulla tävlingen National Geographic World Legacy Awards. Genom det nationella certifieringsprogrammet, Green Scheme, är turistbyråns mål att förvandla hela landet till en hållbar turistdestination.
Vi har ställt några frågor via mejl till Sloveniens nationella turistbyrå med Maja Pak i spetsen, bland annat om prisets betydelse och hur hållbarhetsresan började. Sist men inte minst, skickar de med tre tips för den som är nyfiken på Slovenien.
Texten som följer är på engelska.
”What happens to tourism when a whole country goes green”. That is a question asked by National Geograpics World Legacy Awards who announced Slovenia as the winner in the category Destination Ledarship earlier this spring. With nearly 60 percent of its land covered in trees, Slovenia is one of the worlds most biodiverse countries and has set a goal to be one of the worlds most sustainable countries.
We asked some questions through email to the The Slovenien Tourist Board. Last but not least, three tips on things to do and see if going to Slovenia.
What does the award mean to you and the tourist board?
– It was a great challenge for the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) to apply for the National Geographic World Legacy Destination Leadership Award, since we had been trying for many years to encourage the development of green or sustainable tourism in Slovenia. So we tried to test our performance on a global scale.
Being selected among the finalists and for the winner proves that we have been making the right steps in the right direction in sustainable tourism: Slovenia is recognised globally as one of the most sustainability-driven countries, which is both an honour and at the same time a great obligation to the further develop of our green direction.
We are proud that our small country can be a global inspiration, and that we can share our knowledge and experiences. But there is no way back, the entire world is watching us now and we have to continue our efforts towards the sustainable society. Sustainability in tourism and sustainability in a day-to-day life is the only way today if we hope to preserve the future.
How did your journey towards sustainability begin?
– Slovenia is country with the green heart. Over 60% of its surface is covered with forests and there are some of the oldest natural parks in Europe. 36% of its area is within the Natura 2000 network. It is the only European country that combines the Alps, the Adriatic Sea, the Karst and the Pannonian Plain; there are more than 28,000 watercourses, many thermal and mineral springs, picturesque lakes. Slovenia is surrounded by greenery wherever you look, and this natural environment means a lot to the Slovenians. They have an immense respect for our natural environment and they are happy to share the green corners of our country with travellers. That’s why, in order to preserve our unspoiled nature and the richness of our cultural heritage, STB has decided to support the development of a more sustainable kind of tourism and a general way of life, too.
The green heart of the country is a good base to raise and to build a sustainable way of life. STB has made a commitment to encourage sustainable tourism because it helps to preserve the environment and our magnificent nature, it drives the success of many companies, and it improves tourists experience of Slovenia and the quality of life of the country’s inhabitants. We are aware of the power of tourism, which can, among many other positive effects, also take the role of promoter of sustainable development and has an impact on the economic and social stability of the country. Climate change is a fact, and the influence of tourism on climate change is also a fact. That is why we should take a responsible approach to tourism, and at the same time develop products that can be competitive in these new circumstances.
In 2009 and 2010, STB prepared strategic guidelines for green tourism and set the main goal: Slovenia must become one of the most sustainable countries in the world. In 2015, STB developed an unique national program, the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, which combines all the efforts made on various state levels to develop sustainable tourism and raises the awareness concerning careful environmental management. This was a very important step toward a faster, more effective implementation of green tourism in the country. The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism is a national certification program that under the quality label Slovenia Green offers different tools for assessing the sustainable operations of Slovenian destinations, accommodations, parks and travel agencies according to international criteria, the development of sustainable activities and efforts and it promotes the green actions.
The Slovenia Green quality label bases on the Green Destinations Standard, the global standard for assessing the sustainable operations of tourist destinations, and the ETIS indicator system.
Since 2015, 22 destinations, 13 accomodations, 3 natural parks and 2 travel agencies have joined the Green Scheme and 16 more destinations are waiting to be assess.
What are the biggest challenges when it comes to making a whole country sustainable?
– Last year, the Slovenian government has prepared a strategic document Green as development potential of Slovenia. Green economy is the Slovenian strategic direction for the future and it gives a lot of possibilities for new green technologies development, waste management, more effective management of natural resources, development of science and know-how, more production of local food etc. To turn into the green economy, it requires complete change of today’s models of production and consumption, the support of less environmental impacts, different policy of land, water resources, waste, energy management, changes in public transport. To achive this and much more, everybody has to be included – from individuals to business and government.
We are aware that it will take time, but the results that we have achieved so far show that we are on the right path.
What are you most proud of in your work?
– We are most proud of the fact that we have managed to persuade all interested parties in tourism, together with inhabitants, that a mere love of nature is not enough, and that specific measures should be taken. These were put into action by developing the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism. Our goal is clear: a 100 % green Slovenia, active and healthy, offering a full five-star experience.
We are proud that through the years, the Slovenian tourism has never been keen on the development and the support of the mass tourism. It has rather developed innovative products with high added value and based on the principles of sustainability, green charachter of the country, so that we can truly deliver the promise of the brand ”I feel Slovenia”.
Of course, we are proud of different awards and recognitions, that were given to Slovenia and to STB. Besides the prestigious National Geographic World Legacy Destination Leadership Award, the Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index listed Slovenia the world’s fifth greenest country. Slovenia was the first country in the world to be comprehensively rated according to international sustainability criteria. Based on them it was declared the World’s First Green Country in 2016, as it met the Green Destinations standards with a score of 96 %. At the same time, 17 Slovenian green destinations were listed among the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations in the world. Slovenian capital Ljubljana became the European Green Capital of 2016 and it was the first capital in EU, too, to have realised the Zero Waste strategy of the waste management.
Finally, what are your three best tips to a traveler who has never been in Slovenia and wants to go? What should he/she do and what you they not miss?
To get a true five-stars experience of green tourism, one should experience glamping. It is one of the most innovative accommodations in Slovenia, that gives the luxury service of a hotel and the enjoyment of being more casual, relaxed and close to nature. Glampings are spred all over the country, but as an example of eco glamping we are pointing out Garden Village Bled.
2. Lake Bled
Garden Village is situated in Bled, in the vicinity of lake Bled, which is one of the top Slovenian attractions and the most recognisable sight of our country. It was listed by many guides, articles and blogs as one of the most photogenic sights, too. It should be on the bucket list of the travellers who should at least once in the life time come to Bled, visit its castle and ring the bell on the island’s church.
3. Healing waters
Slovenia is rich with the thermal mineral water springs. Their healing power was discovered already by the Romans 2000 years ago. Today 14 state certificated natural and thermal spas and many other wellness centres in various parts of Slovenia, combine natural features, hundreds of years of healing tradition and contemporary medical approaches in beauty, well-being and health programs. The travellers should experience the healing power of Slovenian waters.