Coronavirus depresses Ljubljana tourism
Ljubljana - Ljubljana, which has become Slovenia's top tourist destination in the past decade, has suffered a significant blow this year, as the coronavirus pandemic suspended air travel. This summer, the capital recorded a total of 160,341 overnight stays, 75% less than last summer.
Director of the Turizem Ljubljana agency Petra Stušek has told the STA that the number of overnight stays in the first eight months of the year reached 425,178, while the number reached 335,132 in August last year alone.
Ljubljana usually draws a great number of foreign tourists, while Slovenians are more likely to stay away. However, this July and August the share of overnights by Slovenians went to 14% from 2.1% in the same period last year. Most overnights were still generated by foreigners: Germans, Italians, Dutch, French and Austrians.
Following the coronavirus lockdown in spring, seven of the city's 44 hotels remained closed due to the drop in visitors, said Stušek, adding that vacancy capacities were down 16% this summer.
Of the 22 hotels included in the agency's basic statistics, 16 are open at the moment, providing 3,873 of the total of 5,022 beds, she added.
"The future depends on a number of factors: epidemiological situation in Slovenia and in our close markets, border regimes, quarantine orders, air traffic and aid from the state," she said.
Meanwhile, the hotels have largely managed to avoid cancellation of conferences planned in Ljubljana this year, with most being postponed to next year, said Stušek.
Even though hybrid events are becoming a trend for scientific and expert events, Stušek believes that in-person events still have a future, as direct personal contact is an important factor.
Stušek also expressed the wish that Slovenia increase the cap on the number of people at gatherings. "Organisers know each participant and are very eager to see participants arrive and leave the event healthy, because this will affect all future events and thus their livelihoods."
Turizem Ljubljana is planning a number of events for this autumn and winter, all in line with the recommendations of the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ). In November, Gourmet Ljubljana will take place as a series of small events, while December will feature winter holiday events.
Stušek said that the city wanted to see as many events as possible take place, as it tries to attract guests from Slovenia, as well as Italy, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia.