The green heart of Europe is inhabited by many people with green hearts. This was evident during a debate at the ITB Berlin Convention, where environmental activists and tourism decision-makers discussed ways in which the world’s first green destination could continue to develop in the future. The debate began with a review of the current situation: with sixty per cent of the countryside protected and with a basic right to clean drinking water that is even stipulated by the country’s constitution, Slovenia is already showing the way. The Netherlands-based organization “Green Destinations” has specified 100 criteria that should be met by such destinations, of which Slovenia satisfies 96, according to Zdravko Počivalšek, the country’s Minister for Economic Development. Last year Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, was selected as European Green Capital by the EU Commission. Factors contributing to this success include the city’s zero refuse strategy, its commitment to clean air and a ban on traffic in the city centre, explains Petra Stušek, Director of Ljubljana Tourism.
The foundations for the country’s transformation into a green destination have been provided by educational and information campaigns and a certification programme, which have already led to the recognition of eleven suppliers and 18 destinations, with a further 20 destinations currently en undergoing the acceptance process.
Visitors to the country can experience green tourism at first hand, for example by staying in a tree house in the “Garden Village Bled”, where they can also help in harvesting organic vegetables, engage in various outdoor activities and enjoy the publicly accessible drinking water. “Our vision is for a 100 per cent green Slovenia”, explained Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourism Office. Pak added that Slovenia wants to set an example for the world, with its authentic and sustainable products.