My country – beautiful and hospitable
At the My Country – Beautiful and Hospitable 2016 event, Ljubljana received two awards: first place in the larger cities category and first place in the city centre category.
In mid-August members of the expert committee for city centres came to Ljubljana where they evaluated the project Ecological Zone in Ljubljana, and members of tourist committee came to rate Ljubljana in the larger cities category. They took under the competitive microscope the tourist aspect and overall appearance of the city as well as individual areas and buildings, quality of tourist services, quality of life in the city for residents and guests, protection of natural and cultural heritage, environmental protection and hospitality. The committee also evaluated streets and squares, buildings for diverse uses, horticulture, heritage protection, community and tourist infrastructure.
The expert committee for city centres wrote in its justification that Ljubljana with one the largest public area renovations in Slovenia indicates it is ever more becoming a city tailored to its residents and nature. This is an area of approximately 950 metres of Slovenska Street, all the way from Aškerc Street to Ajdovščina, on the former, archeologically very rich, main road of the Roman Emona. The renovation included the renewal of community infrastructure, traffic regime and public surfaces with equipment for pedestrians, cyclists, public traffic and emergency vehicles. A lot of space is dedicated to the open-air hospitality services, existing restaurants and shops are still open, and it is commendable that some of them are traditional shops, among them the first café in Ljubljana.
The tourist committee that placed Ljubljana first in the larger cities category is of the opinion that the advantage of the capital is the close cooperation between the City of Ljubljana and Ljubljana Tourism and the awareness of the necessity of forging links with surrounding municipalities which has brought additional guests to Ljubljana. Ever more distinct is also the culinary identity of the city with its top chefs. The liveliness of the city is evident in a range of events, with over 10,000 lining up each year. The renovated centre and the old part of the city together create a pulse linking local residents with tourism. The title European Green Capital 2016 is an indicator of high environmental standards improving the city environment, economy and quality of life, and areas outside the city centre are also under renovation. Ljubljana has set up its first public orchard and planted a city vineyard on the Castle Hill. The Ljubljanica river was also revived, it offers urban fishing and rides with tourist boats, canoes, rowboats or sups to the marshes in the hinterland.
Competing for the award in the category of cities with over 20,000 residents were also Velenje, Koper, Celje, Kranj, Maribor and Novo mesto. The best rated cities are granted the right to represent Slovenia at the international competition Entente Florale Europe.
For the past 25 the Slovenian Tourist Association is organising the competition My Country – Beautiful and Hospitable. The project promotes cooperation and brings residents and tourism together in protecting, preserving and maintaining natural values and cultural heritage. The organisers of the competition want to improve the quality of life of Slovenian residents and tourists, promote sustainable development in an orderly and healthy environment and increase tourist appeal of cities and villages, support efficient promotion of the country and tourism, contribute to the development of tourism and raise ecological awareness.