Postojna Cave boss warns about “tourism cannibalism”

Ljubljana – The boss of the company operating the Postojna Cave has told the weekly Reporter he does not expect a normal flow of tourists this year due to the strict and rapidly changing restrictions in the EU member states. Speaking about “tourism cannibalism”, he says Slovenia is in for a very poor season.

“Restrictions are harsh and they change on a weekly basis. This means there will largely be no normal tourist flow,” said Marjan Batagelj of Postojnska Jama, the operator of one of the Slovenia’s main landmarks.

In the interview with Reporter, published on Monday, Batagelj added that tourism was not bars and restaurants and their terraces, as the revenue in the sector came mostly from foreign guests.

And if there are no foreign guests in Slovenia, and if the airline industry does not get back on its feet, Slovenia is in for a very poor season. “This is not something that pleases the ear, but it is true. I will be happy if I was wrong.”

Batagelj also spoke about what he labelled as “tourism soloing by countries”, which implicates the beginning of “tourism cannibalism”.

“Before the crisis, tourism regions were united to a certain extent at least when it came to joint promotion in remote, overseas or continental markets. Now there are no friendly tourism countries any more. Every country will bet on their domestic guests, and tourist flows will be stopped.”

He noted that the situation for tourism workers had been deteriorating for one year and a half, while he is putting a lot of hope in the upcoming special emergency law for the tourism and hospitality industry.

While Batagelj commended the state aid, he was critical of tourism vouchers, as the idea would have been very good if it was intended for all stakeholders in tourism, which is “not only accommodation, overnight stay.”

It is also about sights, natural and cultural heritage of Slovenia, museums, agencies, guides, transport industry, restaurant owners – everybody who serve guests, he said.

The Postojna Cave, which remains closed until the end of the epidemic is declared, last year had EUR 4 million in revenue, compared to the target of EUR 35 million. “I don’t even want to mention this year’s numbers, because there are no numbers.”

Batagelj is worried about this year’s season, as he does not thinks that people will start visiting the landmark now that restrictive measures are being relaxed as tourists are “shyly cautious”. “This season will be worse than last year’s.”