Economy Ministry to help tourism in three areas this year

Ljubljana – Slovenian tourism will have to adjust to the new reality of Ukraine war while still grasping with the ramifications of the pandemic, and the Economy Ministry will help it by focussing on three areas, Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said on Wednesday as he presented some of the key tourism development projects planned for 2022.

Tourists prioritise security and health post-pandemic and amid the war in Ukraine, and this is where Slovenia has many comparative advantages, he told the press.

He said that tourists tended to avoid destinations visited by masses as they sought green tourism offerings and activities in nature.

The first area of measures where the ministry will help the industry will be investments in public infrastructure, accommodation and tourism offerings to increase added value, with EUR 140 million available.

This will also entail a one-off aid for tourism and hospitality companies that have been most severely hit by the pandemic, which can count on EUR 10 million.

The second area will be securing a stable and predictable business environment with funds secured in advance.

The minister said that a new strategy of tourism development for 2022-2028 had entered its final stage of drafting.

A framework to use funds from the EU’s new financial perspective is also in the making with Slovenia entitled to EUR 3 billion.

One billion of the sum will go for businesses, of which “a significant share” for tourism, said Počivalšek.

The third area of measures concern adjusting tourism promotion. The minister said “the loss of markets due to the war and pandemic calls for rapid and effective reaction”.

He said the focus will be on Austria, Germany and Italy as the traditional markets for Slovenian tourism, and on potential new markets of Visegrad countries (Hungary, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia).

Although demand within the EU has not changed for now, no guests from Russia are expected and there will be many fewer from Ukraine. What is more, overseas and Asian tourists are also expected to come in fewer numbers.

Presenting some calls for co-funding, Ksenija Flegar, head of the ministry’s tourism directorate, said a EUR 48.8 million call for sustainable transformation of tourism had already just closed. As part of it, investments in ski resorts will also be financed.

Calls for investment in public tourism infrastructure (EUR 10 million), new environmental designations in tourism and hospitality (EUR 300,000) and encouraging Slovenia’s connectivity in air transport (EUR 2 million) are currently open.

Still in the making are calls to co-fund investment in accommodation (EUR 69 million) and one-off aid to the companies hit by the pandemic (EUR 10 million).

Ilona Stermecki, acting head of the Slovenian Tourist Board, said that apart from focussing the country’s promotion on closer markets, European markets, active experiences and sport tourism will also be promoted, including through enhancing cooperation with top athletes and influential media or brands.