The city previously won in the larger cities category in 2011 and 2013, and received a special recognition for the outstanding achievement of the year in 2010.
In mid-August, Ljubljana was visited by the Commission for City Centres, which was evaluating the Ecological Zone project in Ljubljana, and by the Tourism Commission, which was evaluating Ljubljana in the larger cities category. On this occasion, these organisations also met with the representatives of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. The competition criteria included the tourist amenities and tidiness of the city as a whole as well as the individual environments and facilities, the quality of the tourist offer, the quality of life in the town for the inhabitants and visitors, the protection of the natural and cultural heritage, the protection of the environment, and hospitality. The Commission also evaluated streets and squares, various activity and event venues, horticulture, heritage care and care for the municipal and tourist infrastructure.
In their explanation, the Commission for City Centres stated that Ljubljana is increasingly becoming a city tailor-made for its inhabitants and nature, which is also indicated by one of the largest renovations of a public area in Slovenia. The latter includes around 950 metres of the Slovenska cesta road, from the Aškerčeva ulica street to the Ajdovščina area, which runs on the archaeologically very rich former main route of the Roman Emona. The renovation encompassed the rearrangement of the municipal infrastructure, traffic system and public surfaces, which now have a full range of amenities suitable for pedestrians, cyclists and the needs of public and urgent transport. A considerable area is dedicated to the open-air restaurants and bars, and the existing bars and shops continue to operate; commendably, some of the traditional ones have remained, including the first coffee shop in Ljubljana.
The Tourism Commission, ranking Ljubljana in first place in the larger cities category, views the capital’s advantage as being due to the close cooperation between the City Municipality and Tourism Ljubljana, and in the awareness of the necessity of connecting with the surrounding municipalities, an initiative which has brought additional visitors to Ljubljana. The culinary identity of the city and its excellent chefs is more and more distinct. The liveliness of the city is reflected in numerous events; there are more than 10,000 every year. The renovated centre and the old part of the city have a special ambience, connecting the locals with tourism. The title Green Capital of Europe 2016 indicates high environmental standards, which improve the urban area, the economy and quality of life, while the areas outside the city centre are also in the process of renovation. Ljubljana received its first public orchard, while the city vineyard is planted on the castle hill. The Ljubljanica River has also become lively as it offers urban fishing, while its marshy outskirts can be reached with a ride on a tourist boat, a canoe, a rowing boat or a SUP.
The other competitors for the award in the category of cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants were Velenje, Koper, Celje, Kranj, Maribor and Novo mesto. The top ranked cities obtain the right to represent Slovenia at the Entente Florale Europe international competition.
The “My Country – Beautiful and Hospitable” competition has been organised by the Tourism Association of Slovenia for 25 years and is held under the honourable patronage of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor. The project encourages the cooperation and connection of the population in the protection, preservation and organisation of natural values and the cultural heritage with tourism. The intention of the organisers is to use the competition to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of Slovenia and tourists, contribute to both the sustainable development in an arranged and healthy environment and to the greater tourist attraction of cities and villages, encourage a more efficient promotion of the country and tourism and contribute to the development of the public awareness of tourism and ecological matters.