The Slovenia Times

Maja Pak Interview: Products to Make you Feel Good


How is STB going to respond to the changes in the tourist markets?

Due to the changes that we constantly study, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the world around them. They are aware of the influences of harmful climate change and therefore they mostly inquire about environmentally friendly holidays. Also, the demographic structure of people is changing. Furthermore, there has been a great development of information and communication technology, which influences the different ways of enquiry and holiday decision-making.Of course, the offer and the manner of communication need to be adapted also according to the economic and financial crisis. That's why we outlined our priority bases last year when we were preparing our programme. We're going to especially strengthen the activities in our key European markets - Italy, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Great Britain, Benelux and Russia - which account for two thirds of all overnight stays in Slovenia.

There are increasing numbers of active seniors for which services need to be adapted. Slovenia has great options and opportunities due to the previously mentioned trends, natural resources and itsfavourable position at the crossroads of the Germanic, Roman and Slavic worlds.

More and more tourists appreciate nature, outdoor activities, and products that lead to well-being. And Slovenia has all of this! Since we are committed to sustainable development, we also encourage theincorporation of sustainable business models into the tourist industry and the creation of the so-called green destinations.

Among the main strategic goals of STB are an increase of tourism turnover and competitiveness. How are you going to achieve this and with what activities?

Besides the already mentioned orientations in the key European markets, we're also going to focus a great deal of attention on the new markets, especially the distant overseas ones that are predicted to grow fast.What is also going to be important is the intensive use of the brand, be it in the tourism as well as in other sectors. The thing is that the unified, consistent communication of the "I feel Slovenia" brand makes it stronger and ensures a more successful marketing venture. Regarding the massive development of information-communication technology, we are going to enlarge the internet marketing share in our communication web.

One of the main tourist events of this summer is the Homecoming project. What is it about?

It is a campaign that has been made together with the Office for Slovenians Abroad and the Government Communication Office. For the 20th anniversary of Slovenia's independence, we wantedto invite home all those Slovenians who live abroad. We collected interesting offers by particular tourist services and published them on a special webpage. There are going to be many events to mark the 20 years of independence, and this will add to the appeal of Slovenia for our compatriots.

Which destinations are the most interesting?

Definitely health resorts. Our huge advantage is that guests can spend their holidays in one place but can actually see all of Slovenia's key sights, its natural and cultural beauties, due to its small size.Our mountains and hiking are also wonderful; mountaineering and other sports are developing. Traditionally, the Slovenian coast and Ljubljana are, of course, also great attractions.

You have mentioned the "I feel Slovenia" trademark. Is it recognisable enough?

This brand has been greatly accepted abroad; it is also receiving positive feedback here in Slovenia. If we want to strengthen its recognisability, we will have to be well organised - in tourism and also beyond. We will also have to carry out the promise given by the brand, so we will have to develop our services and facilities in the direction of sustainable tourism and products with a high added value that wil l exceed tourists' expectations. Our aim is that they have a first-rate experience and feel really good in our country.

There is a well-known problem in attracting guests from the "new markets" -our visa policy. Have you been trying to influence the responsible ministries to act?

Accessibility is certainly a segment where more can be done, meaning infrastructure. Air connections are a matter of bilateral deals: We are making efforts to link northern Russia via St. Petersburg with Ljubljana, which is a matter for the Ministry of Transport. Visa policy is also a question of accessibility; both the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been making moves to loosen demanding visa procedures. Such is the case with Russia; hopefully other areas, such as the Gulf countries, would follow that.

New markets - where are you aiming?

There are three groups. The first is the already mentioned European favourites, where the core of our promotion is focused.Then there are the remaining European countries, where we mostly conduct business activities.The third group are attractive overseas markets who currently contribute no more than 4% of stays, but are on the increase. These markets are not to be left to happenstance. In order to approach them, we are joining forces with Croatian Tourist Organisation as well as European Tourist Organisation. These campaigns, aimed at tourist promoters, entitled "Experience Croatia, Feel Slovenia" were extremely successful. We need to focus and join forces.

So, it seems like the future of tourism will be a colourful one...

Indeed! Very diverse. If you take our first group, every market is specific: half of Austrians visiting Slovenia choose thermal resorts, Germans and Britons head prefer the mountains, Italians the coast.

So the non-traditional guests, for example from China, still need a bit of research?

For sure. And to adapt the services and facilities. Also for the Gulf countries, who need a special approach. These guestsstay the longest. While the average stay is three days, it amounts to six days for Russians.


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