Slunj among best tourist villages in the world, says UNWTO

The World Tourism OrganiSation (UNWTO) included Slunj, a town in the mountainous part of Central Croatia, in the list of the 54 best tourist villages in the world, the UNWTO reported on Thursday, to which the City of Slunj said that this is recognition for excellence and for all residents.

UNWTO announced the best tourist villages in the world this week at the General Assembly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, after selecting them from an invitational competition to which nearly 260 rural destinations worldwide applied. Among all of them, 54, including Slunj, were declared the best, and another 20 were included in the upgrading program.

These are villages (or even smaller towns in rural areas) which, according to UNWTO criteria, are leaders in nurturing rural areas, preserving the landscape, cultural diversity, local values ​​and culinary traditions.

Commenting on these awards, UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili emphasised that tourism everywhere can be a powerful force for inclusivity and empowerment of local communities, and that the villages that received awards showed that they used tourism as a catalyst for their development and well-being.

The initiative for the best tourist villages was launched by the UNWTO in 2021 as part of the "Tourism for Rural Development" program, which encourages the development of tourism in rural areas, but also fights against depopulation in them and for the improvement of innovation and the integration of the value chain through tourism and sustainable practices.

This year, the villages were also evaluated in several key areas - cultural and natural resources and their preservation, economic, social and environmental sustainability, tourism development and value chain integration, tourism management, infrastructure and connectivity, and health and safety.

The villages, 20 of them, selected for the upgrade program will be supported by UNWTO on their way to meet the recognition criteria.

With 74 new villages, this network has been increased to 190, and in addition to Slunj, among the 54 best for 2023 are, for example, Al Sela from Jordan, Barrancas in Chile, Cantavieja in Spain, Dongbaek in the Republic of Korea, Ericeira in Portugal, Jalpa de Canovas in Mexico, Lerici in Italy, Morcote in Switzerland, Schladming in Austria, Şirince in Turkey, Tokaj in Hungary, Zhagana in China and others.

Slunj: Recognition for excellence and award to all residents

Regarding this great recognition for Slunj, local authorities emphasised that it is "great news" and that it is much more than an award for tourism, the beauty and splendor of the city, and its cultural and natural resources.

"It is also a recognition for excellence in the field of sustainable and socially responsible business in all aspects, which is ultimately most evident in the tourism sector of the city of Slunj. We are dividing this award into 4,224 parts because we have so many residents, who in the last three decades have worked together and rebuilt our beautiful city after the devastation in the Homeland War," said the mayor of Slunj, Mirjana Puškarić.