Bled is again Destination Gold of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism
Spring 2021 marks three years since Bled has become part of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism. Bled was awarded the Gold label upon its first audit, and maintained it after the recertification audit. Bled is and has been the 'golden' destination of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism.
Six different themes, one hundred questions
The certification scheme consists of one hundred questions in six different categories.
Bled secured an above 8.1 score in Destination Management, and scored at least 6.1 in each of the other categories. It also has a number of facilities holding a Slovenia Green Accommodation label. The destination excelled in Nature & Scenery and Culture & Tradition, reaching the maximum score of 100%.
Sustainable tourism requires constant and continuous effort
© Jošt Gantar
Of course, there is always room for improvement. This is the path of development which Bled is committed to take. It requires constant, continuous effort, and obstacles – internal or external, over which we have no control – sometimes appear where they are least expected. The obstacles of the latter kind include climate change and its far-reaching implications.
Climate change, which affects us all, is becoming a major factor in tourism.
Umanotera, the Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development, wrote in its statement on 15 May, World Climate Change Day:
“In Slovenia, the temperate is rising faster than the global average due to its geographic characteristics. We are already seeing the effects of global warming, particularly as longer and more frequent heat waves, more extreme droughts, and frequent rain and floods. Climate change is altering the conditions for the production of food, threatening the survival of plant and animal species, impacting the spread of infectious diseases, and causing huge economic loss. If we do not curb greenhouse emissions, we will soon see a horrible escalation in the effects of climate change.”
Climate change is a particularly pressing issue for tourism in alpine areas, as has also been noted by the Slovenian Tourist Board. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the tourism industry to make tourism as carbon-neutral as possible.
Tourism is people
© Jošt Gantar
Slovenia launched the 'Tourism is People' slogan many years ago. It is also the underlying message of the Destination Management & Social Well-being certification themes, where Bled can make further improvements. Covid-19 may have temporarily halted certain sustainability-related activities and trainings: Some were postponed to a later date when people will be able to meet in person and share their experiences, good practice cases and opinions. According to the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), “Slovenia has successfully communicated its brand of a green, active and healthy destination, but in the future we will need to develop more boutique tourism products and clearly communicate their message to the public.”
In its press release, the STB also mentions Bled:
“A boutique destination is generally perceived as being small, undiscovered, hidden, full of surprises, and ‘cute’, while having a high tourism potential (a ‘rookie’ destination), and many unique and exciting qualities.
The most popular Slovenian destination on the Internet is Bled, which internet users often perceive as synonymous with, or even superior to, the country of Slovenia.”
The most commonly used key words in the survey were ‘Bled’ and ‘nature’. This means that among internet users, Bled is the most popular Slovenian destination; it is commonly considered synonymous with, or even superior to, Slovenia (which means tourists know Bled but do not know what country it is in).”
The road ahead
© Jošt Gantar
Sustainability has no borders. Therefore, sustainable development of a tourist destination is not and can never be dependent solely on that particular destination and its people. The road ahead will be paved by collaboration among all stakeholders at the destination and wider – first in the Julian Alps Community and then across Slovenia. If Bled is the best-known face of Slovenia, then the responsibility of Bled towards Slovenia, as well as the responsibility of Slovenia towards Bled, is even greater. Of course, the weight of that responsibility is largely borne by the local community and all its destination stakeholders, i.e. the local inhabitants, municipal authority, tourism providers, educational institutions and public utility.
Considerable responsibility for Bled and its development also rests with the state of Slovenia, especially when Bled requires state assistance in support of its projects aimed at improving the conditions for sustainable development. Two of these are the constructions of the southern relief road and the cycle path between Bled and Bohinj. Both transport routes are of key importance for further development of Bled and have another feature in common: they connect the main two tourist destinations in this part of Gorenjska, which form the Julian Alps community along with other destinations. Both are also major municipalities of Triglav National Park. The long-distance Juliana Trail is an outstanding example of great cooperation among destinations and awareness of the role of sustainable development. If we upgrade this with the branding campaigns, such as last year’s Bled Local Selection, we can be sure that we are on the right track. Before I finish, let me stress again that a destination can only be as strong in a specific sustainability theme as its weakest link. There is simply no sustainability without close cooperation with the neighboring areas and country-wide efforts.