In 2023, Kranj was awarded the European Destination of Excellence title by the European Commission. In 2024, the title has been handed over to Grosseto, a municipality in Tuscany. But as the organisers of the initiative or competition have renamed the award this year into European Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism, Kranj is the last European Destination to be honoured with the prestigious title that mentions excellence.
The European Destination of Excellence competition was first presented to the public by the European Commission in 2007. It is one of the initiatives of the European Union implemented by the European Commission. The competition focuses on smaller destinations that have successfully implemented strategies to promote sustainable tourism through green transformation practices.
Kranj was competing for the award against 20 European destinations and qualified for the finals together with Grevena (Greece) and Larnaca (Cyprus). The three finalists were invited to present their candidatures to the jury in Brussels and Kranj impressed it with its achievements in the field of sustainable tourism and the programme of activities organized by the Kranj Tourism and Culture Board (ZTKK) and the Municipality of Kranj.
Kranj was featured in The Guardian and The Times and at the world’s largest tourism fair
The award has promoted Kranj internationally and opened many doors for the city. Kranj was featured in the major European media. The Guardian listed Kranj as one of the 23 places to visit in 2023, and even ranked it third among all destinations.
It has also been listed as recommended place for a short break by The Times. The European Commission gave Kranj the opportunity to present itself at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism fair, where Mayor Matjaž Rakovec received an award from Jörg Wojahn, Head of the European Commission Representation in Germany.
The European Commission sent an international film crew to Kranj to produce a promotional video on sustainability in Kranj. News on sustainability in Kranj was featured on Visit Europe, the EU Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs Facebook channel and a promotional article on Kranj was published by the National Geographic. At the podcast Smart gets you further, Deputy Mayor Janez Černe spoke about sustainable practices in Kranj.
A Guardian journalist visited Kranj for an extensive report. The Croatian Tourist Board invited Kranj to a workshop on Destinations of Excellence, where the city presented itself as the current holder of the title. Mayor Matjaž Rakovec was invited to conferences abroad to present the municipality’s sustainable practices.
Think green, act sustainably
As part of the Day of International Connections of Kranj, the municipality held the international conference Think Green, Go Sustainable at the Kovačnica Business Incubator, where together with other Kranj institutions, it presented sustainable practices.
The conference, at which the renowned climatologist Dr Lučka Kajfež Bogataj was the keynote speaker, was attended by representatives from eleven countries. In parallel, a workshop was held with students from three Kranj secondary schools to discuss the plan of Kranj to become a climate-neutral and smart city by 2030.
Kranj’s European Destination of Excellence title has gained a lot of attention from the national media. In addition to this, the city has started 2023 by obtaining the platinum label Slovenia Green Destination, the highest award given by the Slovenian Tourist Board under the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism. This has further positioned Kranj, as its presentation was aimed at both Slovenian and foreign markets.
Kranj proudly held the title of European Destination of Excellence in 2023 and will build on this achievement by integrating sustainable practices into the development of the city and tourism with even greater vigour and by further spreading people’s dedication to sustainability beyond municipal borders.
This year, the European Commission has renamed the European Destination of Excellence award into European Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism. Grosseto, Italy, was awarded the title.