The Slovenia Times

Tourism Accounts for 13% of Slovenia's GDP



The year 2013 was a record year for Slovenian tourism in terms of the number of foreign tourists. Tourist facilities recorded the most arrivals and overnight stays - more than 3.4 million, up 3% from 2012.

In Slovenia, tourism generates almost 13% of GDP or EUR 4.5bn. Last year, foreign tourist inflow alone contributed over EUR 2bn. Tourism turnover per capita amounted to some EUR 990, which makes tourism a top industry in the country.

But the figures for 2014 are less encouraging for Slovenia, partly because of bad weather in the summer months, and partly because of fewer guests from Russia due to geopolitical tensions.

However, a somewhat poorer season is not the biggest challenge Slovenian tourism currently faces. Its biggest problem is the overly-indebted tourist companies, which used to invest a lot in infrastructure expansion.

Over 80% of the money flow in tourism is therefore collected by banks for their loans, while mayor tourist companies are looking for strategic investors.

One such example is the engine of tourism in Slovenia's second largest city, Maribor. Ski slopes operator ŠC Pohorje, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, is in the middle of talks with a public-private consortium, which should at least help it make it through this season.

On the opposite side of the country, Slovenia's highest ski slopes are decaying after ski centre operator ATC Kanin went bust in the middle of last year.

On the coast, the indebted hotel operator Bernardin Group is selling off four hotels due to insolvency. Unofficially, the hotels have been sold to Croatian company Liburnia Riviera Hoteli at a price that is said to be below the hotels' book value and the asking price.

Apart from strategic investors, Slovenian tourism also needs quality flight connections throughout the year, which was highlighted at a recent Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) held in Ljubljana.

More money should also be allocated to promotion. Experts in the field estimate that at least EUR 20m would need to be spent on marketing activities, while at the moment the figure is closer to EUR 10m.

In 2013 Slovenia ranked 36th among 140 countries included in the World Economic Forum's competitiveness index survey for tourism and the index remained unchanged from 2011 - 4.6 out of seven.

Around 31,000 people were employed in the hospitality sector in Slovenia last year, of which 5,500 or 18% in Ljubljana. The average monthly gross wage in the sector was EUR 1,087 in June this year, which was 71% of the average gross wage in the country.


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