Tourism season similar to 2020 expected as companies call for extension of aid

Ljubljana – The Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) projects that Slovenia’s summer tourism season will be similar to last year’s in terms of visitor numbers. Companies in the sector are already urging the government to extend certain aid measures, saying many are on the brink of ruin.

Last year visitor numbers were slashed by half compared to 2019. There was a surge in domestic tourists, partially due to special tourism vouchers, but the 21% increase in domestic arrivals failed to offset a 74% plunge in foreign guests.

STO director Maja Pak said Thursday this year’s figures might be slightly higher than last year’s, but a lot would depend on how the epidemic unfolds.

“We all know that tourism demand will depend on many factors, in particular the epidemiological situation.”

Overall, the STO expects tourism industry to recover only gradually, achieving 2019 figures in 2023 or even later.

A lot will also depend on conditions for crossing borders, Pak said at a joint press conference with her peers from the Italian province Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Austrian state of Carinthia.

“We support a fast, coordinated and non-discriminatory solution supported by cutting-edge technology,” she said about plans aired by the EU Commission for a special digital certificate of Covid-19 vaccination.

Vast sections of the tourism sectors remain closed in Slovenia and many companies, including most hotels, have not been open since late autumn, whereas restaurants operate only take-away services and indoor dining for B2B customers.

The Tourism and Hospitality Chamber of Slovenia said today that despite the existing aid, new financial instruments will be needed to avoid a wave of bankruptcies.

“The share of companies that can no longer withstand financial pressure is growing, as is the number of persons who have lost their jobs in tourism,” the chamber said.

What the sector wants in particular is an increase in the share of fixed costs that are subsidies with public funds, and a deferral of financial liabilities by another year.

Additional aid is the only way the sector can return to business, the chamber said, adding that the next stimulus package should focus on sectors which have been ordered to shut down because of the epidemic.