The Slovenia Times

STO Head Believes Austerity Will Affect Slovenian Tourism


Last year, Slovenia saw a 7% growth in the number of tourists and a 5% growth in the number of overnight stays. The number of foreign tourists alone increased by 9%.

According to Pak, tourism, whose growth was above European and global average, is also the country's largest exporting branch, contributing 40% to total exports.

At the global level, growth of tourism will slow down to between 2% and 4% this year, which is on par with the STO's forecast for the growth in the number of foreign tourists.

On the other hand, "we will be happy to keep last year's record numbers of domestic tourists, which represent around a half of Slovenian tourism", Pak says.

The results in the first months of the year were good, as the STO recorded a 5% growth in the number of arrivals and 3% growth in the number of overnight stays.

The board also tries to improve the visitors turnout during the spring and autumn off-seasons through the promotion of spa and congress tourism, as well as through the promotion of hiking and biking, which are becoming increasingly popular.

Since Slovenia is not a widely recognised destination, it has to invest vast sums of money in promotion and marketing, of which around three quarters go for campaigns in key European markets such as Italy, Austria and Germany.

"At the same time we don't leave to chance the situation on distant markets...On these markets, we make joint appearances with other countries, as this is more rational," Pak explains.

Slovenia and Croatia established a common brand "Experience Croatia, Feel Slovenia", with which they appear on markets like India, China, Japan and Israel.

This year, however, Slovenia, which has been allocating around EUR 10m for promotion over the past few years, halved the amount, making it impossible to earmark any significant funds for the common brand.

Last year the board drafted a marketing strategy for social networks and started launching virtual tours of Slovenia, which Pak believes put the country side by side with the competition.

According to her, Slovenian tourism has a great opportunity as people tend to look for destinations close to home at the time of crisis. "We are the ideal location for Italy, Austria and Germany, but we have to be present constantly."

While Slovenia is an attractive destination, foreign tour operators often point to accessibility as the country's weakest point, Pak explains, pointing to lack of good public transport and air transport links.

Tourists are attracted to Slovenia by destinations such as Bled and the Postojnska jama cave system, while the country also benefits from its position between the Alps and the Mediterranean and its size, which allows short trips to places like Venice and Vienna.

Pristine nature is another strong point, according to Pak, who notes that special groups of tourists come to Slovenia for very specific things, such as the hellebore, which attracts groups of Japanese.


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