Destination Award Finalist
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Next year the Slovenian capital city Ljubljana will have its year in the spotlight as Green Capital of Europe 2016, having also recently been named in the inaugural Sustainable Destinations top 100. Such recognition marks a remarkable decade of transformation for a city that 10 years ago was dominated by cars. What makes its progress particularly impressive is that its efforts to become more attractive to tourists have been done by making it a better place for residents to live.
It helps that the city has always been blessed with green space. Around 46% is covered with forest that stretches right into the centre of town. With four landscaped parks and various other green spaces as well, it means that almost all the city's residential areas lie within 300m of a public green space.
Beyond this the city has worked hard to shift its population away from cars. Back in 2007, an ecological zone was created in the city centre, which is now closed for motorised vehicles. In the past five years, these pedestrian areas have been increased by almost 620%. Actions like these, along with a successful bike sharing scheme, have resulted in the city being the only place to be declared the Winner of European Mobility Week Award twice, first in 2003 and again in 2013.
Such recognition inevitably draws tourists, and Tourism Ljubljana has worked to ensure that its residents approve of any changes this brings. Surveys measure how satisfied locals are with the presence of tourists; and the community is included in the planning process, and regularly informed of developments. A mark of how seriously the city takes its responsibility to its citizens can be seen in the setting aside of city funds to increase the provision of daily shelters and protection programmes for the homeless. Altogether, Ljubljana's plans make for a remarkably integrated approach to sustainable city development that is popular with visitors and residents alike.