Slovenia has become the world's first country to be declared a green destination, based on an assessment by the Netherlands-based organisation Green Destinations which established 96%-compliance across 100 criteria.
The title was presented at a ceremony at Ljubljana Castle on Tuesday as part of the two-day Global Green Destinations Day conference, along with the declaration of the world's Top 100 Sustainable Destinations, including Ljubljana.
Green Destinations founder Albert Salman explained that the organisation's representatives had interviews with the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO), people from different ministries, experts and professors, who gave them satisfactory answers to their questions regarding 100 criteria. "The compliance is 96%."
Describing Slovenia as a "wonderful place", Salman called on Slovenians to be "proud of your country and make sure together that your local place in Slovenia is also going to be proud five years from now of what it has achieved in keeping its character and its green, clean, authentic offer for travellers".
Welcoming the title, Eva Štravs Podlogar, a state secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, said that the development of sustainable tourism was a key commitment in the development strategy for 2012-2016 and that she was glad the direction proved the right one.
"Slovenia is becoming known in the international tourism community as a small country which is taking big steps in sustainable tourism," said STO director Maja Pak, pointing to the STO's Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, which promotes the preservation of the environment and local authenticity and higher quality of life.
Ljubljana has been picked as the host of this year's Global Green Destinations Day due to its stint as the European Green Capital this year. Ljubljana was also declared one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations today, having received the title already in 2014.
The selected destinations received Quality Coast, Quality Destinations and Slovenia Green certificates. They are located in 46 countries. Apart from Slovenia, the biggest number of destinations on the list come from the Netherlands, Croatia, Portugal, Canada, Chile, China, Spain and the UK.
Apart from Ljubljana, the list also includes Slovenia Green Destinations Nova Gorica, Brda, Kranjska Gora, Maribor, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Bela Krajina and Velenje.
With three new accommodation providers wining Slovenia Green Accommodation certificate: Hostel Celica, Hotel Jožef and Rooms with a story Pr'Gavedarjo, the Green Scheme of Slovenian tourism now includes 17 destinations and ten providers.
The Global Green Destinations Day conference, which opened today to coincide with World Tourism Day, brings together 350 experts and players in the field of sustainable tourism from Europe and further afield, including East Timor, Botswana, Rwanda, Indonesia, South Africa and the US.
On the opening day, the participants agreed that if green tourism may have been considered as above-standard in the past, today it was something expected by tourists. These want to visit places which are green, quiet, clean, authentic, said Salman.
© Slovenian Press Agency (STA)