The controversy centred around the question of mass tourism versus responsible tourism, including the socio-cultural and economic impact this type tourism has on the environment, has been the subject of numerous debates over the past few years in Slovenia. The Slovene Tourist Board has defined green tourism as their main priority offering only digital brochures and encouraging the development of outdoor activity holiday offers.
Slovenia, a green destination
With only a 46 km long coastline and no sandy beaches, the Slovenian Adriatic Coast has never really been a mass tourist destination. With 66 % of its territory covered with forests and one third under national park protected status, Slovenia is a green destination in its own right, offering numerous possibilities for sporting holidays or just relaxing short breaks.
Sustainable tourism offers
While newspapers have been writing a great deal about sustainable tourism, in reality no credible offer has yet been developed. At the moment we have offers only for “eco” tourism with traditional accommodation and ecologically grown food, as well as walking, cycling and other outdoor sports tours. Only very few have acquired the accreditation to prove their sustainability.
To encourage the Slovene providers to develop sustainable tourism offers, several European certificates have been introduced in Slovenia:
- EDEN, European Destination of Excellency,
- European Eco-label Flower for products and services that meet the highest environmental standards,
- Green Globe, travel and tourism industry certification for sustainable tourism (saving water and natural resources, reducing operational costs, contributing to local communities and their environment),
- Blue flag for sustainable development of beaches and marinas, dealing with water quality, environment training, management and safety,
- Ecological tourist farms.
Sustainable tourism and good practices
Even though there are not many certified destinations or tourist providers in Slovenia, the existing quality offers will ensure that you have a great and memorable holiday while respecting the environment.
Soča valley, the Solčava region, Kolpa valley and Idrija with its mercury mine are well known and respected natural and cultural destinations. They all offer a wide range of possibilities for an activity and environmentally friendly holiday.
Regarding sustainable accommodation, you can choose from the Urška tourist farm close to the Rogla plateau, Snovik Thermal Spa next to Kamnik, Thermana Thermal Spa in Laško, the Eco Park Hotel Bohinj as well as the Eco Kamp Adrenalinček and the Eko Kamp Koren in the Soča valley.
Local farms, mostly in Soca region, offer workshops and real life local experiences. You can learn how to beak bread in a traditional way, how to make traditional Slovene dishes and home made cheese. You can spend a day with a shepherd or try some winetasting.
GoodPlace is a recently launched institute in Slovenia. Its main mission and objective is to encourage and to support different tourism providers in eco-tourism, as well as to promote sustainable tourism in Slovenia.
Working closely with the Sustainable Travel International Institute, they will provide all the support and necessary resources to the sustainable tourism project holders. A tourist agency will be established as part of the institute to promote and to market all these offers in Slovenia as well as internationally.
While a great deal has been said about green tourism, this is the first and very important step in turning such ideas into actionable reality, to encourage and to support the development of the sustainable tourism providers and their offers on the market. We are all looking forward to see this institute grow and to explore all new offers.
Tips for the responsible traveller in Slovenia
- Biggest part of the carbon monoxide emissions will come from your mode of transport to your final destination. Choose to travel by train or try carpooling.
- Once in Slovenia, you have several options to choose from. Prevoz is a local carpooling provider. It will save you some money and you will have the opportunity to meet the locals.
Buses and trains cover all of Slovenia. You can also try cycling. An excellent way to explore Ljubljana and it surroundings is with Bicikelj, a local bike rental scheme.
- For accommodation, try private accommodation at the tourist farms that offer home grown and homemade food. Very often they are certified ecological farms.
- If you want to try some good Slovene food, look for the “Gostilna Slovenija” brand that guarantees good quality Slovene dishes. In towns, you will find a big selection of local bio products located in the central market place, usually open every morning.
And do not forget to recycle your litter!