Destination Laško – the confluence of good is this year`s winner of the Slovenian selection for the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN). Following the Soča Valley, Solčavsko Region, Kolpa River and Idrija, it will be Slovenia`s fifth European Destination of Excellence. The topic of this year`s EDEN tender, put out by the European Commission, is accessible tourism; in the finals, Laško won against the destinations of Radovljica and Green Karst.
The official presentation of the European Destination of Excellence title at the state level will be on 5 June 2013; the Slovenian EDEN destination 2013 will be first presented in Brussels in autumn, where it shall also receive the title from the European Commission.
The topic of this year`s EDEN selection is accessible tourism that enables persons with various physical or psychological handicaps and those with special needs to use tourist services in an independent, righteous and dignifying manner. According to the data of the Premiki Association, the market of accessible tourism is represented by around 127.5 million people.
For Slovenia, one can say that the award was not a surprise, since Laško is recognizable for its leading tourist provider, Thermana Laško, recognized for its top-level preventive and rehabilitation programs.
Dr. Janez Bogataj, president of the expert committee for the selection of the Slovenian European Destination of Excellence and EDEN project ambassador, summarized the conclusions of the expert committee as follows: "Laško has a venerable 160-year heritage of health and 60-year heritage of medicinal-rehabilitation tradition along the Savinja River and its inflows. However, the committee was very positively surprised that their modern activities, connected with various constituents of accessible tourism, are not only bound to and focused on health centre, but that a diverse network of activities in the entire area of the municipality has been set up. The municipal Centre for Sports, Tourism, Information and Culture – STIK Laško successfully integrates all providers and operators of programs that are intended for various types of accessible tourism."
It is also worth mentioning that in 2008, the Laško municipality prepared a Strategic Development Plan for Tourism for the Disabled, while in 2009, Thermana Laško d.d. – Zdravilišče Laško Hotel obtained the golden certificate `Disabled-friendly company`. The same company also received the eco EU daisy for the Laško Hotel Wellness Park.
The town has a lot of experience organising events from the area of sports tourism, including for the disabled. Among others, Laško is recognizable as a town where disabled athletes come to train. Various groups of disabled persons have access to all components and contents of tourist activities in the municipality. Physical access is not only possible within the frame of individual tourist facilities, but also in Laško itself as well as in tourist activities and programs; for instance, on tourist farms and at events connected to cultural and natural heritage and other events.
Various groups of disabled persons can take advantage of various wellness and health tourism services (honey and beer treatments connected to local cuisine), active programs in the countryside (natural and cultural heritage, excursions, visits to artisans, etc.) and various types of sports tourism. All these services are adjusted and accessible not only to disabled athletes but to all disabled persons. In accordance with the programs, the infrastructure, transport, guidance, etc. are also adjusted. Moreover, Laško widely cooperates with various associations.
The selected European Destination of Excellence will join the European EDEN network, established in 2008, and integrates 100 European Destinations of Excellence from all over Europe.
More about Slovenian EDEN destinations is available here.