At this year’s global Green Destinations Conference that was held 8–10 October in Tallinn (Estonia), the 2023 European Green Capital, the Plitvice Lakes National Park officially received the prestigious Green Destinations Silver Award for sustainability.
This important award is handed out by Green Destinations, a global non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands, that has for many years been enhancing the sustainable development of destinations and stakeholders in tourism, as well as promoting good practices tackling the challenges of sustainable tourism. The organisation is present in more than 90 countries, collaborates with over 500 destinations worldwide and promotes visibility of green destinations in the global tourism market.
Today, the topic of sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant, but it is important to show what the destination is doing and which good practices it follows because that is what tourists look for nowadays when choosing a destination.
The Green Destinations certification process itself consists of 84 criteria covering 4 dimensions of sustainable development: social, environmental, economic and cultural. In Croatia, besides the Plitvice Lakes National Park, this process was successfully completed by Međimurje County and the town of Mali Lošinj. Existing responsible practices were reviewed, and the destinations were provided with a tool for monitoring and improvement over the next 2 years, after which they will be re-evaluated.
“The certification process following the Green Destinations model was long and required continuous monitoring as well as dedicated work by all stakeholders. I am extremely pleased that we completed it successfully and showed that by respecting and applying sustainability principles, together with excellent cooperation between all stakeholders, we could make our destination more responsible and more sustainable for us, but also for future generations”, said Tomislav Kovačević, General Manager of the Plitvice Lakes National Park Public Institution.
The two-day Green Destination Conference gathered a large number of world leading experts in the field of sustainability, and more than 260 delegates who had the opportunity to attend lectures and participate in workshops and discussion panels on climate change, collaborative sustainability efforts of the public and private sectors, national and regional perspectives, destination management, practical sustainability solutions for businesses in tourism, ways to communicate sustainability practices, planning sustainable events, digital transformation of tourism, and the significance of authentic destination experiences by fostering local culture and traditions.
Every day we are given the opportunity to do things better and think outside the box, address the vision of the local community and create local partnerships, promote regenerative tourism, offer an authentic experience to our guests, pass on knowledge on how to protect the natural and cultural values of the destination, and raise awareness of sustainability through everyday activities. There are many sustainability certificates that guests do not know much about, and that can only be justified through work and transparency.
Dr. sc. Maja Vurnek and Zrinka Nenadić accepted the award at the Green Destinations Conference dinner on behalf of the Plitvice Lakes National Park team responsible for the Green Destinations certification process.
The Green Destinations Silver Award is an acknowledgement of the hard work the Plitvice Lakes National Park has put into sustainability efforts, but also motivation to improve and develop new sustainable practices to be shared with all conscious travellers in collaboration with the Green Destinations organisation.