Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable travel is increasingly becoming an important theme, not just for travelers but also on a much more global scale. With the monumental dangers of climate change, environmental degradation and decreasing numbers of endangered species, the travel industry and tourists themselves have a big role to play in reducing our ecological footprint. And with more than one billion globetrotters setting out to explore every corner of the world last year, sustainable travel can no longer be a trend, but should be a factor that all travellers take into consideration from booking sustainable tour operators to respecting local environmental regulations, or cutting back on plastic waste. One country is leading the pack on highlighting the importance of sustainable travel practices: Slovenia.

Why Slovenia?

The tiny country with just over 2 million citizens has the highest diversity of natural environment within its small boarders. Its abundance of greenery, fresh air and clear waters is what attracts an increasing amount of tourists to the country every year.

In numbers:

  • Nearly 60% of Slovenia is made up of lush forests and green areas
  • More than 22,000 animal and plant species
  • 44 nature parks with protected landscape status
  • 52 nature reserves
  • More than 1,200 protected natural monuments
  • 87 natural thermal springs
  • 10,000 kilometres of hiking trails
  • 8,000 caves.

But the rise of tourism also puts enormous pressure on these natural resources and overpopulation can have negative impacts on the environment. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the three main environmental issues of tourism are the depletion of natural resources, pollution and physical degradation.

Given that many visitors to Slovenia come to appreciate its natural wonders, the need for sustainable tourism practices is crucial. Fortunately, the Slovenian government and tourist operators are dedicated to preserving its fragile environment; and have taken enormous strides in the development and promotion of sustainable practices before the negative effects of tourism occur.


There is a large focus on preserving its fragile environment and in recent years; there has been a big shift in redesigning cities with sustainability in mind. In 2015, the Slovenian Government implemented a Green Scheme for Sustainable Tourism which saw the government invest in initiatives to reduce negative environmental and social impact. This meant supporting local hotels and restaurants, buying locally made products, using services which sustain local services and help the community while also reducing any negative impacts on the environment. It’s an investment that few governments are willing to make, and positions Slovenia as leading the way on how sustainable tourism should be.

In contrast to many other governments who are backpedaling by trying to fight the negative impacts of tourism after damage has already occurred, the Slovenian government have put sustainable practices into the heart of its operations and have a strong focus on preservation.

Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana was the first destination to receive the Slovenia Green Destination Label for its extraordinary efforts by banning the use of cars in the historical city centre, increasing the use of electric cars and paper products, reducing noise pollution and building more public parks as well as environmentally conscious construction. It’s a huge effort that has had so many positive outcomes and in 2016, the European Union awarded Ljubljana as Europe’s Greenest Capital, while in 2015 the city received the Tourism for Tomorrow Award by the World Travel and Tourism Council.


As the first country with an overall assessment of sustainability, Slovenia serves as an example to other nations on how to implement sustainable tourism practices to preserve the natural environment and support the local community. As travelers, it is important that we are aware of the places around the world that are actively implementing initiatives and offering tourists sustainable options that positively affect the local communities. Where there are more of these options, the easier it gets for visitors to travel more consciously and in time sustainable tourist choices will (hopefully) become the norm, rather than the exception.

For example, the Union Hotel in Ljubljana implemented a ‘Healthy Food for Good Mood’ initiative which focuses on supplying guests with healthy food made from local produce, as well as offering electric scooters. The Hotel Park Ljubljana produces their own honey on the rooftop of the hotel, while Camp Koren in the Soča Valley was the first green-oriented and eco-labelled camp in Slovenia. Lake Bled has its own system of electric bikes and boats for hire.

These are just a few great eco-friendly options for travellers to Slovenia and set a precedent to what sustainable tourism should look like.

There is also a big focus on ‘slow tourism’ in Slovenia where visitors are encouraged to engage in cultural experiences that are unique to the country, such as cheese-making, listening to folk music, and drinking locally made beer and wine. Environmentally friendly activities such as hiking, cycling and rafting are also championed. As well as supporting local businesses, ‘slow tourism’ also helps to ensure that travellers really get to experience the local customs and appreciate the fragility of nature.

Because, it is undeniable that as the number of travellers continue to increase every year, we need to do more as global citizens to reduce our impact on the environment.