Slovenia has demonstrated how a country can develop its tourism industry sustainably, but it doesn’t solve the persistent problem of slow hotel action. Without getting hotels on board, the capacity to tackle urgent sustainability issues like climate change will remain formidable.
Slovenia’s tourism board created a green certification scheme for destinations, hotels, parks and other stakeholders back in 2015 that has become a global model for how to sustainably develop a national tourism industry. Yet it comes up short when it comes to the industry problem of hotel participation.
Under the Green Destination certification process, destinations fill out an application, are audited, given a report then have to create a one year action plan, budget for it and present it to their municipality board, according to Jana Apih, managing director of GoodPlace, a nongovernmental organization that works with the Slovenia Tourism Board on the certification process.
Destinations report back on their action plan progress annually and are re-evaluated every three years.“They really need to go into it and say ‘This is where I’m not performing well. This is what I need to do in the next year,’ ” Apih said.
Slovenia has historically been a green country. More than 61 percent of the land area of Slovenia is covered in forests, making it one of the wooded countries in Europe. Over a third of the country is under the environmental protection of the European Union’s Natura 2000. In 2014, the tourism board wanted to develop its industry sustainably.
Instead of developing their own from scratch, Slovenia used the Green Destinations Standard, which is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. “We looked at each criteria and adapted it to Slovenia,” said Slovenia Tourism Board Research and Development Project Manager Maša Klemenčič. The Slovenia Tourism Board labels each destination as a gold, platinum, silver or bronze based on their fulfillment of the criteria.
The tourism board added a greater focus on community input. Destinations must survey locals, visitors and tourism businesses every three years. “We want our destinations to think very closely about the local communities,” Apih said. “What they actually benefit from and what is the burden on a destination.” Every destination also must have a green team composed of a destination site manager and local public service providers like water management.
This is an excerpt from an article by Dawit Habtemariam originally published by Skift.