Six Slovenian destinations shine among the world's top 100 sustainability stories
Six Slovenian destinations shine among the world's top 100 sustainability stories
Yesterday, Green Destinations unveiled its annual list of the world's 100 most inspiring sustainability stories, known as the "Green Destinations Top 100 Stories." Impressing the world with their outstanding sustainable practices, six Slovenian destinations made it onto this prestigious list: Ljubljana, Šaleška dolina, Brežice, Jeruzalem, Miren Kras, and Kranj. This achievement strengthens Slovenia's visibility as some of the greenest and most sustainable destinations.
Every year, destinations from across the globe submit their stories for the Green Destinations Top 100 Stories. From these submissions, an expert committee curates a list of 100 good practices. Slovenian destinations are regularly included in the list, which is a reflection of systematic and long-term development and promotion of sustainable tourism.
MSc. Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, emphasized the significance of sustainability, stating that "Sustainability is not just an option for Slovenian tourism; it is our responsibility to safeguard our natural wonders, rich culture, and traditions, which are at the core of our identity. I wholeheartedly congratulate the six destinations for standing out on the international stage with their exemplary sustainable practices this year. They are spreading the message of the green Slovenia to the world. We remain dedicated to advancing and promoting sustainable tourism through initiatives like enhancing the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, establishing the National Information Centre, and launching a new pilot project to reduce food waste. Together, we create an authentic tourist offer rooted in our deep respect for nature and community."
Slovenia's good practices take the stage at the Green Destinations conference
The Green Destinations conference, an annual event organized by this global organisation based in the Netherlands, serves as a vital platform for fostering connections and sharing best sustainable solutions and practices in the effective management of tourist destinations. This year's conference, held 8-10 October in Tallinn, gathers over 50 speakers from around the world, showcasing their expertise and insights.
The conference's professional programme prominently highlights the global influence of Slovenia and its stakeholders in sustainable tourism. Maša Klemenčič from the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) participates in a panel addressing national and regional perspectives, while Jana Apih from GoodPlace, Institute Factory of Sustainable Tourism, a project partner of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, engages in conversations about the comprehensive approach to green destinations. Mitja Predovnik from Ljubljana Tourism shares insights on culture, traditions, and thriving communities, and Tina Felicijan from Šalek Valley presents a compelling local case study in the sustainable development of tourist products and digitalization with "Mysteries of Submerged Villages."
The globally recognized best sustainable practices in Slovenian destinations
Green Destinations has acknowledged six outstanding sustainable practices from Slovenia, ranking them among the top 100 most sustainable stories worldwide.
Brežice (Čatež and Posavje Leading Destination): Celebrating the harmony of bread, wine and salami
Brežice, a sustainable destination in Slovenia, boasts a rich natural and cultural heritage infused with folklore and traditions. Historically, the region's topography and climate provided the perfect conditions for viticulture, embedding it deeply within their culture. However, in recent years, this tradition has declined among younger generations. Many vineyards faced neglect, overgrowth, or even removal.
Brežice aims to manage its resources sustainably, preserving the region's signature vineyards and the tradition of grape cultivation and winemaking. To inspire younger generations to safeguard family vineyards, join winegrowers' associations, and foster community bonds, they introduced the "Bread, Wine, and Salami Day". Over the years, it has become a cherished tradition, attracting participants like winegrowers, viticultural associations, tourist organizations, bakers, and local music and dance groups, as well as visitors from near and far.
Jeruzalem Slovenia: An oasis for nature enthusiasts
Jeruzalem Slovenia is unwavering in its commitment to sustainable, socially responsible, and economically sound development, with a strong focus on nature conservation.
The Ormož Lagoon Nature Reserve stands as a prime example of nature conservation in this destination, showcasing how a once-degraded area transformed into a thriving nature reserve. Covering 55 hectares, this wetland of anthropogenic origin is nestled in the ecosystem of the Drava River by Lake Ormož. It comprises shallow reed pools, hornbeam stands, and a surrounding floodplain forest. The reserve holds exceptional national and international significance, serving as a vital breeding ground and migratory stopover for numerous endangered bird species. It reflects a decades-long partnership between industry (Ormož Sugar Factory) and a nature conservation organization (Society for the Observation and Study of Birds of Slovenia - DOPPS). This case serves as an exemplary demonstration of contemporary nature conservation, showcasing how to protect natural and industrial cultural heritage.
Ljubljana: Fostering creativity through handicraft workshops
Ljubljana Tourism, in partnership with the Department of Culture of the City of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, along with five Ljubljana artisans, has curated a series of eight boutique tourist experiences centered on traditional crafts and handicrafts in Ljubljana.
These experiences, such as "Mend your umbrella," "A printmaker for a day" and "Weaving from A to Z," and various pottery and goldsmith workshops, aim to revive traditional crafts, preserve cultural heritage, and engage young people in age-old artisanal skills. Catering to the desires of modern travelers seeking unique experiences and connections with local cultures, these initiatives significantly enrich Ljubljana's tourism offer, offering both local and international visitors valuable opportunities to explore and appreciate the wealth of knowledge, creativity, and heritage held by local artisans in the city.
Miren Karst (Nova Gorica and Vipava Valley Leading Destination): Together for the Karst
In the scorching summer of 2022, the Miren Kras destination faced a massive forest fire, marking the second such incident in three years and becoming Slovenia's largest recorded fire. This event devastated 3,600 hectares of land, with 80% of this area residing within one of the greenest and most sustainable destinations in Slovenia. Miren Kras had been consistently ranked among the top 100 sustainable destinations globally and among the top six for green practices.
Faced with the challenge of rejuvenating tourism in a "charred destination," a partnership emerged. The affected municipalities partnered with the non-profit foundation Vrabček upanja to create the national campaign "Together for the Karst". This initiative aims to collect donations for the restoration of the burnt area and the development of a new green hiking transversal, uniting the region into a novel cross-border educational-tourism product. This endeavour will raise awareness of climate change and promote tourism development across the entire affected area.
Šalek Valley (Šoštanj/Topolšica and Velenje Leading Destination): Unlocking the mysteries of submerged villages, sailing through Šalek Valley's rich past
The 5-star boutique experience offered by the Šalek Valley Tourism and the Slovenian Coal Mining Museum represents an upgrade to the typical museum visit. It involves a cruise on Lake Velenj, a virtual dive into the past, and a culinary experience at the Vista viewpoint just above the water's edge. This experience serves as a prime example of sustainable destination development, combining industrial and cultural digitalization heritage. The Šalek Valley is currently undergoing economic restructuring and a just transition, with coal mining being a cornerstone of its identity.
During the approximately four-hour adventure, guests are greeted by a mining guide in front of the Slovenian Coal Mining Museum. Descending 160 meters underground, visitors encounter a 3-D model of the historic industrial infrastructure and a digital simulation of land subsidence and village disappearance. They then embark on a walk along the shores of Lake Velenj to Vista - Park with a View, where a boat awaits them. In the middle of the lake, guests don virtual reality glasses to experience a virtual immersion in the lost villages. Upon returning to the Vista pier, they indulge in a culinary finale featuring selected local delicacies, all set against the backdrop of the Šalek Valley's slopes.
Kranj: A shared quest for pristine underground water, inspired by the human fish
The human fish, or proteus, is the world's most renowned cave-dwelling creature, observed by millions of visitors in several caves across the globe. The human fish's story is a poignant illustration of the endangered biodiversity within caves and serves as a symbol of the crucial need to safeguard groundwater, our most vital source of potable water. In a public-private capital partnership, the municipality of Kranj and the Tular Jam Laboratory established the SOS Proteus Information Centre. This centre embodies innovative solutions, following two centuries of public display of the proteus:
- Offering firsthand insights from researchers.
- Contributing to biodiversity conservation by protecting the human fish.
- Monitoring the impact of visitors on animal welfare.
- Embracing sustainable management, which entails investments in research, conservation, and public awareness.
The SOS Proteus Information Centre played a pivotal role in Kranj receiving two prestigious awards: European Destination of Excellence 2023 and Slovenia Green Destination Platinum. Moreover, it garnered attention from prominent international media outlets like The Guardian and The Times.
About Green Destinations
Green Destinations is a Dutch organization dedicated to evaluating, fostering skill development, and certifying destinations and companies committed to sustainable tourism. This organization administers numerous global programmes and operates a global partnership comprising over 50 representatives, including experts in sustainable tourism, consulting firms, and non-profit organizations. To date, more than 450 destinations and 50 companies from 60 countries have participated in Green Destinations programmes.
In 2016, Green Destinations declared Slovenia the first green country in the world, with an impressive 96% compliance rate in the assessment of 100 sustainability indicators.