Sustainable development is a fundamental policy of Slovenian tourism. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. To ensure long-term sustainable development a suitable balance needs to be established between tourism's impact on the environment, tourism workers, local communities and tourism service providers.
Sustainable tourism means more than just environmentally friendly practices
The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as responsible tourism that takes into account the needs of the environment, local communities, local businesses and visitors.
Sustainable tourism is based on four pillars of development:
- economic: ensuring the competitiveness of tourist destinations and tourism companies, so that they can thrive and provide long-term benefits;
- environmental: reducing air, water and land pollution, reducing waste, enhancing the quality and characteristics of the landscape, and protecting and conserving nature, vegetation and animal life;
- socio-cultural: improving the quality of life in local communities and enhancing and respecting cultural and historical heritage, the diversity of tourist destinations and traditions;
- climate: reducing the impact of tourism on climate and improving climate change adaptation in tourism.
To ensure long-term sustainability, a suitable balance needs to be established between all pillars. For tourism to be competitive, it will need to be based on economic viability while maintaining respect for the natural, cultural and social environment.
The benefits of such sustainable development are:
- financial savings for businesses and destinations whose costs are reduced due to efficient energy use and the use of renewable energy sources;
- greater attractiveness of sustainable businesses to investors;
- better preparedness of sustainable businesses to adapt to changes in environmental legislation, with environmentally friendly certified providers having precedence in calls for co-funding;
- tourism service providers and destinations with a sustainable approach develop a higher quality product and strive for a higher quality guest experience;
- companies that pay more attention to the natural and social environment and employee satisfaction are better able to motivate employees and retain quality staff;
- tourism companies with sustainable practices that have been recognised under environmental schemes achieve higher visibility and enjoy higher prestige.
The green scheme and ecolabels in tourism
With the help of the Slovenian Tourist Board, Slovenia has been promoting itself as a green, active and healthy country for several years. The slogan reflects the sustainable orientation of Slovenian tourism. Under the Slovenia Green umbrella label, we have established the Green sheme of Slovenian tourism that encourages sustainable actions, unites efforts towards sustainable development promotes the green stories of Slovenian tourism. Slovenia Green is a national programme, a certification scheme and a mark of quality for tourist destinations and accommodation providers. The label promotes the sustainable actions of tourism service providers and tourist destinations, with accommodation providers obtaining the Slovenia Green Accommodation label.
Tourism service providers that wish to join the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism must already be in possessions of one of the internationally recognised ecolabels, the acquisition of which can be co-financed via an annual public tender. The aim is to encourage legal entities and private individuals, associations and other public and private entities active in the field of tourism to introduce environmental or ecological management and environmental or ecological standards in tourist accommodation and to encourage the acquisition of an internationally recognised ecolabel.
The European Destinations of Excellence project
Slovenia participates in the European Destinations of Excellence project, which promotes the development of sustainable tourism in Europe and focuses on small, yet interesting destinations that provide authentic experiences and allow visitors to explore various tourist services on offer. Slovenia boasts eight European destinations of excellence: The Soča Valley, the Solčava region, the Kolpa river, Idrija, Laško, the Brda Hills, Koper and Podčetrtek.
The Slovenian Tourist Board is also actively nurturing innovation and encouraging sustainability-oriented, innovative and creative ideas in the framework of the Sejalec and Snovalec projects.
Human resources in the hospitality and tourism industries
The right kind of human resources development is crucial for the successful operation of tourism businesses and the competitiveness of Slovenian tourism at the international level. It is the employees in the hospitality and tourism industries who create added value and ensure high quality tourist services. Investing in human resources development is therefore a vital part of ensuring long-term and sustainable development not only at the level of tourism companies, but also at the level of tourist destinations. The 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism sets out measures applying to employees in the hospitality and tourism industries.
National certification scheme for successful employee management in Slovenian tourism
In order to improve employee management in the hospitality and tourism industries and raise the profile of the profession, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology is preparing a proposal for a national certification scheme for successful employee management in Slovenian tourism.
Professions in the hospitality and tourism industries
Workers in the hospitality and tourism industries undoubtedly have one of the most demanding jobs, as for much of their working time they are in direct contact with guests. Guest satisfaction is an indicator of the quality of the work. The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training develops education and training programmes based on professional standards.
There are two regulated professions in the Slovenian tourism industry: tour guide and mountain guide. Foreign nationals may pursue regulated professions or activities in the Republic of Slovenia in accordance with the provisions of the Act Regulating the Procedure for Recognition of Professional Qualifications for Practising Regulated Professions. Training for tour guides is provided by the Tourism and Hospitality Chamber of Slovenia.
Slovenian citizens wishing to practise the profession of mountain guide abroad and foreign nationals wishing to practise this profession in Slovenia can apply for a European Professional Card (EPC).
Targeted research programme, a study in relation to human resources 2017–2020
Together with the Slovenian Research Agency, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology commissioned a targeted research project entitled the Identification of employee competences essential to the long-term competitive advantage of Slovenian tourism and the development of proposals for updating education programmes, which was carried out by the Faculty of Tourism of the University of Maribor, in cooperation with the Faculty of Tourism Studies of the University of Primorska. The project was completed in March 2020. The results of the study will be published and recommendations for the renewal of education programmes will be prepared.