Slovenia Tourism Board
SLOVENIAN TOURISM in its current guise can be traced back to around 1991 upon the country gaining its independence. The initial vison was to strategically plan, communicate and promote Slovenia as a tourism destination to the world, amid challenges both domestically and on the neighbouring continent. Rather than competing against adjacent Italy and Austria though, Slovenia has looked to leverage such proximities to put it back on the map as a dynamic, evolving powerhouse.
Ljubisic affirms: “We have learned quite quickly that the only way forward is to adopt sustainable practices when it comes to growth and development in tourism. Slovenia is one of the most forested countries in the world, where forests cover two-thirds of the country’s landscape. For us there was only one way forward: to develop and adopt practices which would cause as little damage to the environment as possible. We have therefore committed to consistently educating and promoting sustainable tourism practices.
We believe in being as ‘green’ as possible. Everything we say and do reflects our love towards nature and practices to preserve it. We’ve developed a destination brand, ‘I feel slovenia’, which is both green in colour as well as reflecting the ‘love’ we have towards nature. Slovenia is also the only country in the world with love in its name!
EME: Taking a more general industry stance, how would you evaluate the tourism sector in Slovenia now compared to its condition when the Tourism Board began?
ML: The tourism sector in Slovenia has grown first and foremost with an amazing mindset of the people working in the tourism sector. It is fascinating to see how everyone adopted the idea of Slovenia being a boutique country offering a unique and authentic travel experience, that is based on adopting the belief of being very eco and environmentally friendly. It fascinates me how everyone, from the smallest activity providers, have this genuine care for the travel industry and our guests; always looking to improve their customer service to ensure everyone really feels welcomed and loved in Slovenia. EME: What are the core industry trends dictating the Tourism Board’s investments and initiatives at present? ML: We have recently prepared a strategic plan for tourism development in Slovenia for the next five years. In essence it is to position ourselves as a boutique travel destination offering unique five-star travel experiences with a strong focus on sustainable practices and development. Our key goals and KPI’S are focused on: • Increasing the brand recognition and image as a tourist destination under the brand, I feel slovenia • Sustainable growth and development with a focus on all- year-round arrivals • Geographical dispersity of tourism flow, to avoid mass tourism practices and the negative impact of tourism hotspots as to enhance the travel experience • To increase travel spending, by developing high-value tourism products and activities as well as to increase the average duration of stay • Focus on high-end and demanding visitors, seeking high quality, boutique and diverse travel experiences, peace and personal benefits EME: What is in store for Slovenia over the course of 2018 and beyond to continue the good work already commenced and to enhance its reputation as a tourism and business travel hub further in the future? ML: The new strategy 2017-2021 will be to continue investment in tourism
infrastructure and development over the course of the next four-five years. Slovenia continues to attract big and respectful organisations such as the Intercontinental Hotel group, which opened a five-star hotel in our capital city of Ljubljana in September, 2017. More hotels are being refurbished to high standards in 2018 and beyond, including Hoteli Bernardin. Hotel Jama at Postojna Cave has undergone a huge renovation and is establishing itself as a business travel hub for the region. The new Hotel Kanin is due to open in the picturesque town of Bovec, located in the Julian Alps. Maribor continues to shine as a cultural and gastronomy hub (it is home to the world’s oldest grape vine and was a EU City of Culture in 2012). And another must see MICE destination is Lake Bled which provides one of Europe’s most iconic images and hosts the world famous Bled Strategic Forum.
The most recognised MICE event in Slovenia and the wider region though is an expo event called Conventa, being organised every January and next scheduled for 23-24 January, 2019. It is organised by the Slovenian Convention Bureau and is an amazing trade event attracting more than 270 buyers, international and Slovenian, in one place for two days with amazing networking and business opportunities.
EME: Looking forward, what progress and development would you hope and expect to be able to report back in the future, both in regard to the Slovenia Tourist Board as an entity, and to the business travel industry in Slovenia as a whole?
ML: We aim to achieve the ambitious goals we have set up by 2021. Slovenia will continue to position itself as a boutique travel destination attracting customers who are after unique and environmentally friendly travel experiences. We have been witnessing a big increase in MICE and business travel arrivals over the past few years and it is crucial that we establish strong destination management practices as to enhance the customer experience as well as protecting our environment for generations to come. We hope to be an example to other tourist boards around the world, to recognise the importance of protecting the environment, as well as developing and implementing sustainable growth and development practices.