Another record year for Slovenian tourism
"That 2018 will be a new record year is already clear. The number of tourist nights from 2017 was exceeded as early as the end of October," Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said at a news conference in Ljubljana on Tuesday.
He attributed the good results to cooperation. "Measures by the ministry and the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) have not been that well harmonised in a long time, tourism companies and destinations have not been that responsive and creative in a long time."
This year's promotion has been largely based on culture, which will also be the case in 2019. STO director Maja Pak said 2018 was one of the most intensive and successful in terms of marketing.
She is also happy with the media attention abroad, stressing Slovenia had been regularly making it to lists of recommended destinations. "Slovenia is not only a recognisable destination, it is now a trendy destination."
Looking ahead, the STO said it would be all about gastronomy in 2020 and 2021 as Slovenia had been chosen the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 and influential French restaurant guide Gault & Millau published a Slovenian edition of its high-profile restaurant guide.
The minister announced his ministry will be working on three priorities next year: restructuring of state-owned tourism companies, a loan scheme worth EUR 160m and legislation simplification.
Počivalšek insists on the restructuring in line with the national asset management strategy, which envisages bringing all the companies under the roof of Slovenian Sovereign Holding, improving their management to secure a higher added value and then privatisating them.
Noting "things were going in the desired direction", he is convinced the project will be successfully carried out, including the privatisation already under this government.
He insists the companies must be sold to good owners with a development vision.
"In all sectors, I promote prudent privatisation to the benefit of a company which is on sale, to the benefit of Slovenia, not to the benefit of the seller."
The minister is open as to who the new owners would be, saying the hotels could be sold to domestic or foreign companies, or to asset management funds.
Počivalšek also said there was a lot of interest in the loan scheme, so he believes the funds will be well used to increase the number of accommodation facilities.
State Secretary Eva Štravs Podlogar said the ministry would continue to simplify legislation, taking on the hospitality law and the law on mountain guides.