Ljubljana among the best food destinations in the world

Ljubljana received a high commendation award for its Green Supply Chains project in the category Best Food Destination at International Tourism and Travel Awards at World Travel Market in London.

The Best Food Destination Highly Commended recognition, one of the International Travel & Tourism Awards presented at WTM London, the most important global travel trade show, went to Ljubljana for the Green Supply Chains project, which incorporates three sub-projects: Locally Grown Food Exchange, Culinary Calendar and Ljubljana Breakfast. Projects such as these – developed and implemented by Ljubljana Tourism – follow a vision of sustainable tourism development that improves the life and working conditions of local inhabitants and ensures a better experience for visitors.

Within the special brunch at WTM London, Ljubljana Tourism presented its efforts for the sustainable development and promotion of destination's gastronomy, as well as guided experiences with a focus on its latest Let’s meet at the market. The meeting, which was organised on Slovenian stand by Slovenia Tourism Board in order to present the Slovenian culinary specialities that contribute to the 5-star experiences, was attended by representatives of renowned British media, such as National Geographic Traveller, Culture Trip, Foodism, Escapism, Olive Magazine and Greta's Travels. The meeting also attended Simon Willmore, the president of The British Guild of Travel Writers.

The City of Ljubljana’s Rural Development Department created the Green Supply Chains project in 2015 in conjunction with Ljubljana Tourism, the “sustainable tourism factory” GoodPlace and the Jarina cooperative. The project came about following the realisation that there was a lack of locally produced food and local, traditional dishes to meet the demands both of residents and of visitors to Ljubljana and the Ljubljana region. The Green Supply Chains project, incorporating the sub-projects Locally Grown Food Exchange, Culinary Calendar and Ljubljana Breakfast, has provided a local, authentic and sustainably focused gastronomic experience for citizens and visitors alike, it has given hotels and restaurants an opportunity to offer more variety, and at the same time it has provided a source of earning for producers. In this way, Ljubljana Tourism is fulfilling its mission with regard to the sustainable development of tourism and not only raising awareness of the importance of consuming fresh, locally produced food but stimulating the local economy and reducing the carbon footprint.

© Nea Culpa

The Locally Grown Food Exchange, which takes place several times a year, is an opportunity for local producers to meet restaurateurs, hoteliers and representatives of schools, nurseries and other entities with a view to supplying them with ingredients for their kitchens. The next edition, which is also open to the general public, will take place at 10.00 a.m. on 14 November at the ABC Accelerator in the BTC City business zone. Ljubljana Tourism organises the Locally Grown Food Exchange in conjunction with the City of Ljubljana’s Environmental Protection Department, the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region, the Ljubljana Agriculture and Forestry Institute and EKOmeter. The project has already received two major awards: the 2018 Moving Forward award for the best improvement in public administration and Best of Cities 2019, an international award for best sustainable practice in the cities category presented at ITB Berlin by Green Destinations.

Given the numerous positive effects of short supply chains, and in order to facilitate the integration of local seasonal ingredients on menus, Ljubljana Tourism has created the Culinary Calendar in conjunction with Valentina Smej Novak, the author of various cookbooks. Each monthly calendar, sent out to restaurants and hotels via a newsletter, contains three recipes for dishes made from local seasonal ingredients. The main ingredient each time is a specific seasonal vegetable, chosen with the help of local producers and suppliers at the market and in the surrounding area, while the recipes contain three different ways of using it. Encouraging restaurants and hotels to broaden their menus has an additional impact on the local and seasonal offering, which is something that visitors are increasingly demanding.

The Ljubljana Breakfast is another way to encourage restaurants and cafés to offer meals using ingredients from the local supply chain. Establishments use this common designation to highlight it on their menus and breakfast tables and online. They also list the suppliers of the ingredients alongside the dishes, which can be either contemporary or traditional. The first week of the November Gourmet Ljubljana festival will dedicate particular attention to the Ljubljana Breakfast. Until 10 November it will be offered by selected establishments throughout the city (Gostilna na Gradu, Hiša pod Gradom, Bistro Ek, Magda, Kavarna Sputnik, Falafel, Paninoteka, Slovenska Hiša, Slovenska Hiša Figovec, Moji Štruklji, Grand Café Ljubljana, Kodila and Landerik) under the same designation on the menu. The Ljubljana Breakfast also represents the “icing on the cake” of Ljubljana Tourism’s latest experience Let’s meet at the market, at which a guide shares fascinating stories and reveals the hidden corners of Ljubljana’s central market while inviting participants to sample the seasonal produce of local farmers from the Ljubljana region.

Today’s tourists appreciate local dishes based on tradition and made with fresh ingredients. Projects such as Green Supply Chains contribute to the quality of a destination’s culinary offering and the authenticity of visitors’ experiences. Awards such as the recent Best Food Destination are proof that Ljubljana is valued and recognised around the world as a sustainably oriented destination for excellent and unique gastronomic experiences. Ljubljana Tourism has made a decisive contribution to this recognition.

International Travel & Tourism Awards (ITTA), in conjunction with WTM London, rewards individuals, businesses, organisations and other stakeholders for their outstanding contributions to the global tourism industry with awards in 15 separate categories. Award-winning projects and individuals are held up as examples of good practice that inspire and educate. They are selected by an independent panel of expert judges drawn from the global tourism industry. The Best Food Destination category is about recognising and rewarding destinations that have spent time supporting and promoting food through imaginative marketing and PR campaigns. The judges also consider whether destinations offer visitors consistently unique and memorable food and drink products and experiences since alongside excellent quality this is one of the characteristics that mark a desirable culinary destination. According to the 2016 Food Travel Monitor, 93% of travellers consider food and drink to be very influential in their choice of destination when researching a holiday. Destinations with compelling food and drink stand to capture more visitors seeking unique and memorable food and beverage experiences.