Tourism: Slovenia aims to become five-star destination
Those working in the sector have to focus on further increasing revenue to catch up with the rise in both arrivals and overnight stays, she has told the STA.
Following the milestone year 2015, when Slovenian tourism workers recorded more than 10 million overnight stays for the first time since the country's independence, the growth continued last year.
In the first eleven months of 2016, the number of foreign tourist arrivals grew by 12% and the number of overnight stays by 10% year-on-year, according to the Statistics Office's data. The central bank meanwhile reported a 2.3% rise to EUR 1.8bn in January-September revenue generated by exporting travel.
The figures were above the EU average, which did not happen by chance, because last year Slovenia invested the most funds in tourism promotion in the history of the country, Pak has said.
A digital campaign to promote Slovenia as a tourism destination, dubbed Make New Memories, was carried out in 13 countries in 12 languages. It greatly exceeded its targets, achieving 217 million ad impressions, 86% more than originally planned, and reaching more than 42 million users, 68% above the target.
Also helping promote Slovenia abroad are top achievements of Slovenian athletes, the highly publicised birth of "baby dragons" in the Postojna Cave and the future US first lady, Slovenian-born Melania Trump, Pak added.
"Together, it all works to increase the interest in Slovenia and gives us the opportunity to promote Slovenia as green, active and healthy."
Despite the positive trend, there is no time to rest on laurels, as revenue growth has lagged behind the growth in the number of overnight stays.
"We have to take this as a challenge to develop products with a higher added value, so that we can address guests with a higher purchasing power," Pak has stressed.
Digital promotion will continue to dominate the STO's efforts, including with the overhauled www.slovenia.info portal.
"Foreign tourists...have been put in the focus and the portal adapted to it," Pak has said at the recent inauguration of the updated portal.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has also joined the efforts, drafting a number of legislative changes to boost the sector's growth.
Among them is a proposal to raise the tourist fee from EUR 1.265 to up to EUR 2.5 based on the number of overnight stays in an individual municipality.
Of the fee, 50 cents would be earmarked for the promotion of Slovenian tourism abroad, which would add four million euros to the STO's annual marketing budget.
Another major change in the making is a legal framework for apartment rentals via websites, such as Airbnb.
A new strategy of sustainable development of tourism for 2017-2021 will be drafted in the first half of this year, with the ministry promising to make it "short, concise and goal-oriented".
The new strategy should help Slovenia reach the goal of three billion euros in travel export revenue: "It is our vision for Slovenia to become a five-star destination," the ministry has announced.