- By: Bostjan Horjak and Prashant Yadav
Many tourism-reliant destinations are opening up their borders to welcome back tourists.
Last month, the European Commission announced a plan to save summer tourism to help the struggling travel industry. The plan includes opening borders, and putting health measures and testing in place.
Portugal, after easing out lockdown by reopening some shops and restaurants in mid-March, has welcomed back visitors. While flights between Lisbon and Newark, New Jersey, resumed on June 4, Portugal allowed air travel from all EU countries, except Spain and Italy, starting June 6.
Our Destination series, in collaboration with Liberty International, will explore how different countries are opening up their borders and why you should travel to these destinations.
So, where will people travel to next?
A 2019 National Geographic report stated that 42% of travellers from the US are willing to prioritise sustainable travel in the future. Travel blogger and author Shivya Nath reaffirms this change in the mindset. “Amid a pandemic linked to deforestation, biodiversity loss and intensive animal farming, all roads seem to point towards a life that is more sustainable, compassionate and mindful.”
At this point of our fight against the novel coronavirus, even as most tour companies are tweaking their operation models to realign with the new normal, people remain sceptical about travel in the near future. In several polls, nearly half the respondents said that they would prefer less-crowded destinations when they do travel next.
Slovenia and Montenegro perfectly fit the bill. Awarded the ‘Best of Europe 2020’ among 100 best sustainable destinations, the countries are flush with endless natural landscapes, beauty, pristine forests amidst which you can walk, hike and trek, as well as isolated stretches that allow you to socially isolate.
Creating sustainable tourism the Slovenia way
Slovenia is a small European country you may not yet have visited or even heard of, but when you do, you are unlikely to forget it.
The country is an unexpected revelation, especially to those who expect a quintessential Eastern European destination. It is not. It is a green boutique destination, complete with unique experiences that will enthral even the most demanding of visitors. The pocket-size country surprises with its vast diversity and incredible scenery at every turn.
Slovenia has striven for many years to execute green and sustainable measures in tourism. Its efforts have frequently been recognised with awards, such as the ‘Best of Europe 2020’ recognition among the 100 best sustainable destinations.
It was the first European Union country to declare a victory over the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, Slovenes have taken a step further.
With continued emphasis on implementing high hygienic standards and practices, the country is doing its best to create a safe and healthy environment for vacationing visitors and travellers. Safety and sustainable recommendations and protocols intended for service providers and tourist destinations are marked with a ‘Green & Safe’ label.
So, why is green and safe Slovenia worth visiting?
- The country has implemented strict hygiene protocols and health protection recommendations.
- Slovenia is one of the safest countries in the world; it is ranked eighth on the 2019 Global Peace Index.
- It is striving for a sustainable future. It was the first country to receive the Global Green Destination title.
- Slovenes swear by boutique and unique experiences.
- The landscapes seem right out of a fantasy novel.
- Its exceptional diversity is tied to a rich history and colourful culture and gastronomy.
- The journey—from cool alpine mountains to sun-baked Adriatic Sea—takes just two hours.
- Every corner of the country is a day trip from the capital, Ljubljana.
- It has been awarded the title, the ‘European Region of Gastronomy 2021’.
- Lonely Planet magazine describes it as “a country with top restaurants, wine shops and undiscovered small towns”,
Slovenia is ideal for travellers desiring to visit isolated destinations: A walk through green forests to charming towns; experiences that range from a hike deep into the mysterious Karst world or high up in the mighty mountains; and ultimately, for rejuvenation and healing in its top-class health and wellness spas.
Slovenes take pride in their green landscape and heritage, and work hard to preserve it for future generations.
COVID-free Montenegro opens up to tourists from June 1
Much like Slovenia, Montenegro has dealt rather well with the pandemic and is opening to tourists. It was the last European nation to record its first confirmed coronavirus case (the first COVID-19 infection was registered on March 17, 2020) and is the first European state to free itself of active COVID-19 cases. According to Montenegrin Institute of Public Health, no new cases have been recorded since May.
The National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases (NCD), taking into account the epidemiological situation and the fact that there are no active cases of the novel coronavirus, analysed the possibilities of opening borders and re-establishing international traffic. It was decided, at the suggestion of the Institute of Public Health, to allow 27 foreign nationals to enter the country from June 1, without prescribing quarantine and self-isolation measures.