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Slovenia: A Sustainable Destination Showcase

Slovenia has been on my list of destinations to revisit since attending the Green Slovenia conference in 2019. Slovenia is a destination that does sustainability with seemingly not much effort. Slovenia is a small country with an abundance of natural landscapes and a rich cultural heritage. Tourism is one of the most important industries in the country, and the government and the tourism stakeholders have implemented sustainable tourism practices to ensure they preserve the landscape and cultures for future generations.

The Slovenia Tourism Board has a vision of ‘a green boutique destination, with a smaller footprint and greater value for all’. Essentially, they want quality tourists and an industry where the host community can see the value. This is achieved through various initiatives such as promoting eco-friendly locally owned accommodation, encouraging the use of public transport, and creating their own Green Scheme certification aligned with the GSTC criteria. The tourism products on offer, the Green Slovenia brand and the associated marketing align with this vision. So, there is a lot of effort at the DMO level to achieve the seemingly effortless sustainable tourism offering!

To achieve a vision, DMOs need the tourism supply chain engaged and working towards the same goals. From what I experienced in Slovenia, this is happening, and the local agents and accommodations that helped create my family adventure certainly were.

I spent two weeks on a family holiday exploring what Slovenia offers. From the outset of organising, I was determined not to use a hire car, rely on public transport as much as possible and use a driver/guide on the few days this was tricky due to my itinerary planning.

My itinerary centred around a three-day hike in the Slovenian Alps. I felt my 8-year-old was ready for his first linear trek, and I found the perfect one with Slotrips on a stretch of the Alpe Adria trail from Kranjska Gora to the Soca Valley. I’ve heard of Slotrips through industry contacts and that they are ATTA members which always adds a level of confidence in a local agent. They excelled at the itinerary, a perfect pace for our family - we stayed at the truly wonderful Erjavčeva Koča mountain hut for the first night, followed by a stay at Pri Plajerju farm with an incredible with a farm to fork ethos in their restaurants (not uncommon in Slovenia!). Unfortunately, we had to miss day two of our trek due to the storms that hit Slovenia, We actually really enjoyed being holed up at Pri Plajerju for a day **climate crisis crazy summer weather blog post coming soon** Still, we were well looked after by Slotrips - a sign of a professional company being fast-acting and responsible when things go a little wonky. At the end of our trek, we had a few days to relax, dry out and then get wet all over again - intentionally, this time with Soca Splash rafting before heading to the coast.

I’d booked a transfer with Roundabout Experiences (a Green Scheme and Travellife accredited agency). Again, they provided excellent customer service as we wanted to go through the Bohinj car-train tunnel, and this was all arranged, and then double-checked that it was still possible due to the storm. Our guide, Klemen, added to the day of driving with his insightful knowledge of Slovenia - the history and the landscapes. I like travelling independently and self-guided but sometimes miss the added value a guide will give. I’d arranged two stops along the way, and Roundabout were happy to oblige in my route-making!

The main stop for the day was for a bike ride in the Vipava Valley. I wanted to experience one of the lesser visited areas and thought this would be great for a bike ride - much flatter then our previous stops and vineyards. Keeping both child and adults happy! Jani from Wajdusna created a bespoke route for us that was suitable for a child Although it was the child that asked how wine was made, we got a very detailed response from our guide! Jani created a bespoke route for us suitable for a child and ended at a beautiful hilltop village, where we had a local lunch and enjoyed wine from the valley without another tourist in sight! Wajdusna is another Green Scheme accredited local agency with the added bonus of Carbon Labelling on their trips. Sustainable tourism boxes well ticked there! Thanks to Tine and Robert of New Deal Europe for the introduction.

This makes my trip sound like a whistle-stop tour of Slovenia; our whole trip was 13 days (79% longer than the average stay of 2.7 days - although this is probably skewed due to many people that pop over from neighbouring countries for a short trip). As we flew, I wanted to ensure we stayed a decent amount of time - stay longer and fly less is the new ‘do as many trips as you can’.

There were many other sustainable tourism gems, and I will write about a few in the coming weeks. Here’s a snapshot:

Ljubljana - ‘ The Dragon City” a beautiful and compact city that is well looked after. There are no vehicles in the old town during the central part of the day. They have electric buggies so those with mobility issues can get around quickly and lots of local restaurants and hotels. The UK government must look to Europe to see that car-free town/city centres are achievable.

Bohinj - A great example of localising the national sustainable tourism plan. Free shuttle busses to get around the valley (some with bike racks), an app to see which car parks were full and encourage park and ride - which also stops at the train station. This will definitely have its own blog post.

Bovec - so many well-marked trails in the mountains and Soca Valley. Again, buses are easy to use to get around. And lots of locally-owned rafting companies

Piran - what a gem! It is a walled seaside town with a rich history, great local museums, plenty of places to eat and a little out of town, the Lepa Vida salt pan spa (cost me a Euro to get there on the bus!).

And I haven’t even mentioned the craft beers and local wines we enjoyed!


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