GREEN TOURISM - Sustainable development framework in Slovenia

In recent times Slovenian tourism has started recognising the challenges brought by the increasingly clearly reflected changes in the international market, in both supply and demand – this is sustainable tourism that adheres to environmental, economic and social sustainability, it is responsible, adapting to climate change and mitigating its impact; tourism for which the international tourism market is increasingly using the term GREEN TOURISM.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN SLOVENIA’S UMBRELLA DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY


1. The development of tourism in Slovenia is based on the principles of sustainable development, which pursues the equal treatment of economic, social and environmental development components. In its Slovenian Development Strategy up to 2013, the Government has defined sustainable development as one of the key elements of development in Slovenia.

2. Sustainable development of tourism is included as a major factor in the Promotion of Tourism Development Act (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, 02/04) and the Development Plan and Orientation of Slovenian Tourism (DPOST) 2007 – 2011.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AS ONE OF EIGHT POLICIES IN THE NATIONAL TOURISM DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY


3. Among the specific measures stemming from the policy of sustainable and regional development (which is defined as one of eight policies), the DPOST has included the development of indicators of sustainable tourism (and in addition to this, measures for the spatial regulation of tourism and regulating the conditions for developing tourism in protected areas), and has identified the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning as being in charge of the measure. The measure has not yet been implemented, but application of the project has been made to the CRP (Business Development Centre). There has not yet been a response about whether the project will be confirmed.

4. Specific action to promote more environment-friendly operations in the area of tourism includes the project of the Programme of Environmental Upgrading and Modernisation of Slovenian Hotels, which was formulated in 2006 by the Multidisciplinary Research Institute under an order from the Ministry of the Economy. The aim of the project was to propose a range of measures to speed up the introduction of environmental management in the Slovenian hotel sector, and the project included a survey among Slovenian hotel companies about the state of environmental management, an inventory and benchmark analysis of certain frequently used and respected ecolabels in Europe – with the aim of proposing the right one for Slovenia – and there was a comparative analysis of environmental management systems in certain selected countries comparable to Slovenia.

5. Then at the end of 2006 the Ministry of the Economy (Tourism Directorate) published the Handbook for Environmental Upgrading and Modernisation of Slovenian Hotels and the Programme of Environmental Upgrading and Modernisation of Slovenian Hotels and produced a web presentation  of the hotel upgrading and modernisation programme, whereby the Ministry of the Economy is seeking to bring the issue closer to all interested parties and to promote implementation of the label.

6. With the aim of promoting implementation of the Eco-Daisy emblem, on 4 April 2008 the Ministry of the Economy published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No.  33, a public tender for promoting implementation of the EU Ecolabel for tourist accommodation, the EU Eco-Daisy, valued at EUR 40,000. The tender is still open.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN THE CURRENT MARKETING STRATEGY OF SLOVENIAN TOURISM – NOT DEFINED AS THE CENTRAL DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING CONCEPT


7. According to the definition of the policy of sustainable development in the DPOST, a sustainable policy or sustainable (green) approach on the marketing level was not implemented in the current Marketing Strategy of Slovenian Tourism, so the Slovenian Tourist Board is now facing the challenge of reacting as fast and specifically as possible to the movements, trends, changes and challenges taking place in the world, on all levels of green tourism.

8. In 2009, therefore, alongside certain individual projects such as EDEN, the European Destination of Excellence (which was devoted to tourism and protected areas in 2009), the Slovenian Tourist Board started actively working to design a concept of development and marketing for green tourism.

HOW ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY ARE SLOVENIA’S TOURISM PROVIDERS?


9. The majority of Slovenia’s tourism companies are still not devoting sufficient attention to environmental management as a constituent part of sustainable development. The reason for this is a lack of understanding of environmental management, since the majority think of it as a costly and financially burdensome method of operating, while not being aware of the advantages it brings – this was shown by the primary research among Slovenian hotels about their environmental orientation, which was conducted in 2006 as part of the Programme of Environmental Upgrading and Modernisation of Slovenian Hotels. In that time the situation has not changed much, but the research would urgently need to be updated for a more accurate assertion.

10. An overview of the actual situation regarding environment-friendly specific practices in tourist services shows that:
• In the three years since the introduction of the EU Eco-Daisy emblem, only one provider has succeeded in acquiring the emblem (Terme Snovik – which is currently also in the procedure of reassessment). For the moment there are no other applications, but the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO), which operates under the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and is competent for awarding the emblem, reports that there is considerable interest.
• We have had just one certified bio hotel, which “gave up” (the Hotel Zlatorog in Bohinj).
• We have a few restaurants where part of the menu is labelled as “eco” or “bio” (organic), but there is still a sizeable gap in understanding either concept, both on the part of providers and consumers.

A LONG TRADITION SAFEGUARDS PROTECTED AREAS

11. In contrast to the very limited activities in the practical implementation of the sustainable development concept on the destination level or the level of individual providers, in Slovenia there is already a long-standing tradition of care for protected areas (Triglav National Park) and therefore also a great deal of experience provided by research to date in projects to plan tourism and recreation both in protected areas and in areas included or envisaged for the Natura 2000 project. In protected areas, only the development of sustainable tourism is permitted; and in the most strictly protected areas, only its most friendly form, eco-tourism, is permitted.
Within the range of advanced tourist services around the world, sustainable forms of tourism are becoming an increasingly powerful trend and represent one of the biggest opportunities for its further development. Researchers predict the highest rate of growth for it in the coming years.

At the same time it represents the essential orientation for further development, since only this kind of tourism, which is based on the economic success of tourism business and is at the same time kind and constructive towards the natural, cultural and social environment, can be competitive in the future.
 
What is vital is that the development of sustainable tourism is not and should not become one of the various forms (types) of tourism, but a fundamental constituent and principle of tourism policy and development on all levels. For this reason sustainable development of tourism is also vital in the development of destination tourism.
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