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Slovenia awarded title of the 2021 EU Region of Gastronomy

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Slovenia is awarded the official title of the European Region of Gastronomy (ERG) 2021. This is a recognition to all participants involved in the project and an additional opportunity in the efforts to make Slovenia globally recognised as a top gastronomic destination for boutique 5-star experiences focused on sustainability.

The official title will be awarded to Slovenia at the ceremony taking place on 8 October in Brussels during the European Week of Regions and Cities.

The 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism defines gastronomy as one of the ten leading tourist products, which may contribute greatly to the promotion, visibility and reputation of the country and its tourism. Gastronomy enables the development of excellent experiences with the added value and thus contributes to the dispersion of tourist flows and deseasonalisation of tourism, which are some of the central objectives of future development of Slovenian tourism.

Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, said: “The awarding of the prestigious title of the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy to Slovenia is acknowledgement of the solid development and promotional project in the field of gastronomy within the 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism and a reward for allpartners involved in the project who, with their activities, programmes and projects, erase the borders between food, culture, creativity and tourism, support cultural and culinary innovation in the local environment, surpass state borders to cooperate with European regions, teach about cultural and culinary diversity, raise awareness about the origin and food security and its nutritional value, and support local food producers. The title of the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy is an excellent starting point for guests and locals who seek green, active and healthy experiences, and also for the partners, who will have to remain innovative. The title gives Slovenia an increased international recognisability of its gastronomy, and enables closer intersectoral integration, networking, learning and sharing of good practices within the region and broader.”

Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, mag. Maja Pak:“The awarding of the title of the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy is a great recognition for Slovenia, Slovenian tourism and everyone who contribute to the formation of our country’s image as a unique supreme destination for 5-star gastronomic experiences. Slovenia has many resources and opportunities to become an even better and more popular destination, with a prominent place on the world map of culinary travellers. Rich tradition, modern gastronomic products based on innovative approaches, exceptional individuals such as gourmet chefs, local organic produce and also high-profile and unique events such as the World Bee Day constitutea remarkable story of superb Slovenian gastronomy, which is becoming increasingly more visible and appreciated outside its state borders. Simultaneously, this prestigious award denotes an obligation for further development and promotion of our country as a boutique and globally recognised top gastronomic destination. The Slovenian Tourist Board has been incorporating gastronomy in its marketing and promotional activities for over 22 years. Gastronomy is our new 2020–2021 biannual marketing topic, which will replace the topic of culture.”

On Monday, 8 October, Slovenia will receive the official title of the European Region of Gastronomy (ERG) 2021at the ceremonyheld within the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels.

The event will start at 13:00 at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia. A round table will take place first with an overview of the past winners of the title of the European Region of Gastronomy and their experience, followed by an official ceremony of awardingthe title of the European Region of Gastronomy to the winners, Coimbra (Portugal)and SloveniaMag. Tanja Strniša, State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food and Renata Martinčič, Director General of the Tourism Directorate at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology will address the guests. Prof. Dr. Janez Bogataj, the ambassador of the ERG project and a member of the IGCAT worldwide network of experts will introduce the book, ‘Taste Slovenia’, which was written as part of Slovenia’s candidacy. The ceremony will conclude with a banquet of local dishes from the winners of the title. Slovenia’s tasting entitled At least 21 flavours from Slovenia will be prepared and served by Jezeršek catering.

Candidacy and acquisition of the ERG 2021 title

 

The International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism – IGCAT, the holder of the ERG award and platform, confirmed Slovenia as a candidate for the title of the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy this March (link)following its official bid. The project incorporates 16 partnerswho, with their excellent projects and programmes, co-create the story of acquiring this prestigious title. These include: the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO), the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (MGRT), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, Ljubljana Tourism, the Portorož Tourist Association, the Maribor–Pohorje Tourist Board, the Tourism and Hospitality Chamber of Slovenia, the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia, the Tourist Association of Slovenia, the College of Hospitality and Tourism Maribor, the University of Primorska, the Local Action Group of Istria (LAS Istre), and the Slovene Ethnographic Museum. Slovenia’s candidacy was supported by experts who have obtained global recognitions for their achievements in cuisine and gastronomy. Its ambassadors include: Prof. Dr. Janez Bogataj, Luka Košir, Mira Šemić and Ana Roš. 

Between 17 and 20 July 2018, the ERG expert commissionvisited Slovenia in order to examine the gastronomic offer in the field, meet separately with the representatives of 16 stakeholders involved in the project and become familiar with the ‘Taste Slovenia’ candidacy book (link),which was edited by Prof. Dr. Janez Bogataj. During the visit, the commission comprised of Dr. Diane Dodd, Blanca Cros, Alfred van Mameren and Jacinta Dalton assessed the diversity of Slovenian gastronomic offer in culture, sustainable tourism, agriculture and education, and decided to recommend to the IGCAT Board to confer the ERG 2021 title on Slovenia.

The expert commission highlighted that the programme Slovenia introduced with its candidacy incorporated the various fields covered by the European Region of Gastronomy well, and it presented a long-term strategy of Sloveniawith the objective of enhancing quality of life, education in the field of healthy and sustainable living, and the sustainable development of gastronomy. The commission was also convinced by the gastronomic achievements of Slovenia and its commitment to sustainable development in cooperation with regional partners and the implementation of various activities regarding sustainable development.

Slovenia is the first country in Europe to have obtained the ERG title; so far, it has only been conferred on various regions in individual countries: Catalonia/Spain and Minho/Portugal (2016), Aarhus/Denmark, East Lombardy/Italy and Riga-Gauja/Latvia (2017), Galway/West of Ireland and North Brabant/the Netherlands (2018), Sibiu/Romania and South Aegean/Greece (2019), and Kuopio/Finland (2020).

Importance of the title, ‘Slovenia – the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy’

The title of the ERG 2021 is of exceptional importance for Slovenian tourism. It is a recognition to everyone involved in the provision and implementation of offer and the promotion of gastronomy in order to become more globally recognised as a unique, top gastronomic destination for boutique 5-star experiences. Within the ERG 2021 project,the efforts to attain a better quality of life in our region and improve the availability of healthy options in the hospitality sector will continue by emphasising the unique culinary culture, education for a healthier and more sustainable life, encouraging innovativeness in gastronomy and closer intersectoral integration regarding food policy, gastronomy, hospitality, tourism, agriculture, health, education and sustainability principles in the economic, cultural, social and environmental sense.

The ERG 2021 title gives an advantage to gastronomy and enables the development of excellent experiences with the added value, thus contributing to the dispersion of tourist flows and deseasonalisation of tourism, which are some of the central objectives of future development of Slovenian tourism, as anticipated by the 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism, in which gastronomy is defined as one of the ten leading tourist products, which can contribute greatly to the promotion, visibility and reputation of the country and its tourism. TheERG 2021 title will further contribute to the realisation of the main strategic objectives from the Strategy and the additional international promotion of the entire Slovenian gastronomic offer and its diverse cultural and culinary heritage. Five-star experiences may be developed within the framework of gastronomy, which will distinguish us from what other countries offer.

Gastronomy – one of the key development and promotional projects of the Slovenian Tourist Board

The Slovenian Tourist Board has been incorporating gastronomyin its various marketing and promotional activities for over 22 years, and gastronomy is also its new 2020–2021 biannual marketing topic, which will replace the topic of culture. In June 2018, the Slovenian Tourist Board published an invitation to tender for the preparation of the 2019–2023 Action Plan for the Development and Marketing of Slovenia’s Gastronomy, which will include an analysis of the condition of gastronomy in Slovenia. Its positioning strategy, key distinguishing opportunities and target groups will be identified, its distinct gastronomic experiences and the measures related to the increase in added value will be determined, and a communications and marketing plan will be devised. Among the bids received, the bid of the Faculty of Tourism Studies – Turistica of the University of Primorska was selected.The objective of the Slovenian Tourist Board is to position Slovenia as a globally recognisable gastronomic destination, known for local natural products, excellent wines, creative chefs, and boutique experiences.