The Slovenia Times

Ljubljana fairgrounds growing, expanding congress business


Presenting the figures for the STA, Iztok Bricl, the director of Gospodarsko Razstavišče, stressed that the fairgrounds operator's total revenue was up by 10% last year, with the goal being to grow at an annual rate of 5%.

The company generated EUR 6.5 million in net revenue in 2018, while net profit was up by 35% to EUR 400,000 million. Last year it hosted more than 260 fairs, exhibitions, concerts and other events, which were visited by a total of 400,000 people.

Bricl noted that the venue north of the city centre had hosted 12 international congresses last year, featuring a total of 11,000 delegates. "Fairs organised by us were also successful and very well visited."

The construction fair Dom, the largest fair in Ljubljana in terms of the exhibition area and the number of exhibitors, attracted 57,200 visitors alone, he said, adding that this year was also expected to be successful.

Gospodarsko Razstavišče also invests in congress halls, equipment and staff. "Since I took over in 2010, we have invested almost five million euros of our own funds in infrastructure, technical equipment and lighting."

Construction of a new hall, measuring 2,630 sq metres and standing 24 metres tall, is expected to start in 2022. "The ground floor will feature the largest multi-purpose hall in Slovenia, which will host fairs and congresses."

Above the hall, which will be able to accommodate up to 4,000 guests, will be another, smaller hall, intended for receptions. It will notably feature a green terrace, added Bricl.

The new hall, which will host large international congresses as the fairgrounds operator is recording an increasing demand for such events, will cost between 6 and 8 million euros.

While constantly investing in infrastructure and updating and expanding the list of its services, the company also attends international fairs in a bid to promote Slovenia and Ljubljana as a new congress destination, Bricl said.

Three years ago, Gospodarsko Razstavišče got connected with the Turkish Dekon Group, the third largest professional conference organiser (PCO) in Europe, which organises 60 major events with more than 10,000 participants every year.

The two have established the joint company Dekon.SI, the first international PCO in Slovenia. "Next year it will bring to the Ljubljana fairgrounds two international congresses with between 1,200 and 1,800 participants from all over the world."

Since 2013, Gospodarsko Razstavišče has also been hosting major exhibitions, which are visited by up to 70,000 people. The latest exhibition, Body Worlds Vital, was visited by more than 55,000 people in three months.

Established on the initiative of Slovenian businesses and the chamber of commerce as a professional organisation hosting fairs and exhibitions, the company recently marked its 65th anniversary.

According to Bricl, the history of Gospodarsko Razstavišče is very colourful and rich, "as if you are watching an interesting documentary reflecting a certain era, starting with the post-war times in the spirit of the building of the socialist Yugoslavia."

It was followed by planned economy, the opening up in the 1960s and 1970s, and connecting with the Alps-Adriatic region and wider, development of the market economy, influence of the global economic trends and the related recession and economic growth.

Before the Tivoli Hall was opened in 1965, the venue also hosted many international sport competitions. The national broadcaster opened its first studio there in 1956, while the legendary jazz musician Luis Armstrong had a concert there in 1959.

There were plans in the past to move the fairgrounds to the outskirts of the capital, but they are no longer viable. "We will certainly stay in the centre of the city, at the location which was designated for fairs 65 years ago."

Bricl explained that, as the volume of activities connected to the immediate vicinity of hotels is increasing, it would be impossible to further develop the congress-hosting business at a location outside the city centre.

He sees the next ten years of the Ljubljana fairgrounds within the context of the planned development of the wider area, which include two skyscrapers, one large office building and renovation of several existing buildings.

"That part of Ljubljana will be a modern urban business centre a 10-minute walk from the old city core with the Castle Hill, Ljubljanica, Triple Bridge, restaurants and shops," Bricl concluded.


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