Slove­nia Tourism Board

EME Outlook - - Slovenia -

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.

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