Climate expert calls for truly green tourism

Postojna – Climate expert Lučka Kajfež Bogataj called for truly green tourism at a round table debate held as part of Days of Slovenian Tourism in Postojna on Wednesday. “If we are selling green, let’s become truly green,” she said, pointing to criteria such as energy use per tourist night, water consumption and the amount of food waste.

The corona crisis has not caused the problems of Slovenian tourism but has merely exposed them, said the director of consulting company Hosting, Peter Vesenjak, as he presented an evaluation of the implementation of the strategy for Slovenian tourism in 2017-2021.

The target for the number of arrivals and tourist nights was met and even exceeded in the period but the rise had slowed down in 2019 even before the Covid-19 pandemic. In hotels, the number of tourists nights even dropped by 1% and the rise in added value stopped. Revenue also did not follow the rise in tourist numbers.

Vesenjak assessed that tourism had lacked quality capital and had not done enough for the staff.

Economy Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc said Slovenia was to get a new tourist strategy in the next five months and that it would be formed in cooperation with all stakeholders.

He also pointed to investment in infrastructure, connectivity, including subsidies for flight connections, and efforts for better railway connections.

Kajfež Bogataj noted that unlike with Covid-19 there was no vaccine or medicine for climate change. “The evaluation of the tourist strategy lacks data on whether we have become greener,” she said.

It is not clear whether hotels have been made more energy efficient in this period, whether they use less water or have reduced the amount of waste or switched to more environmental-friendly energy sources, she warned.

She said the indicators of green tourism were the use of energy per tourist night and the carbon imprint of tourists. “All that I am talking about is cutting costs while improving reputation,” she said.

Rather than focussing on the number of tourists and overnight stays the sector should think about the quality of services and culture, she believes.

She underlined the importance of adjusting to climate change, pointing to ski resorts, which should take into account that winters would no longer be long and full of snow, and the increasingly frequent storms that might in the future endanger the lives of tourists.