STA, 19 February 2020 - Representatives of tourism companies and of tourism and hospitality trade unions signed on Wednesday an agreement involving a two-stage increase of the lowest basic wages by a total of 10.25%.
The annexe to the collective bargaining agreement for the sector envisages a 5% increase as of 1 March and 5.25% more as of 1 July, as well as a EUR 100 increase in the holiday allowance compared to 2019 to EUR 1,150.
Commenting on the rise, the Tourism Chamber pointed out social partners in the sector had already agreed on a 4% pay increase in 2019.
Also, the minimum wage increased across the board in Slovenia from EUR 886.63 to EUR 940.58 gross, while bonuses have also been excluded from the minimum wage, which is the wage of a large share of tourism and hospitality workers.
According to the chamber, representatives of Slovenian tourism companies have thus shown they are aware of the need to additionally motivate workers in the sector, since they are the key to increasing quality.
The trade unions have for some time been warning about continuing issues, including a lack of staff, chaotic working time, poor working conditions and low pay.
They argue these reasons contributed to the lack of interest for the profession and its increasing dependence on foreign workers and students. This is however at odds with the strategy for the development of Slovenian tourism, which aims to increase quality and prices.
Many places are celebrating Pust this Saturday (22/02), with the Shrovetide/pagan carnival giving people an excuse to dress up and take part in, or watch and thus enhance, a variety of ethnographic spectacles and traditions. Not least of these will be the parades featuring characters such as the UNESCO recognised kurenti – the hairy guys with bells – along with witches, idiots, whip-crackers and more, as seen in the following photographs and which you can read more about here.
Wherever you are in Slovenia you shouldn't be too far somewhere doing something like this, if not on Saturday then in the days after, and if you're lucky enough to be around some of the bigger celebrations then it's a good idea to make sure your phone and / or camera battery is fully charged. I took the pictures shown above at last year’s Dragon Parade in Ljubljana, to be held again this Saturday, starting at 11:00 in Prešeren Square, but also making its way through the streets to end up with an entertainment programme in Kongresni trg / Zvezda Park.
Ex-Yu Aviation reports that Israir Airlines, Israel’s third largest carrier, is launching flights between Tel Aviv and Ljubljana. The service scheduled to run from late May until October 13, with three additional charter flights during Passover, in mid-April. The flights replaces those previously operated by the collapsed Adria Airways, and join those offered seasonally by Sun d’Or Airlines.
The service will be met by a 180-seat Airbus A320, and starts on 23 May with two flights a week. On Tuesday the plane leaves Tel Aviv at 17:20, arriving in Ljubljana 20:00; while on Saturday the flight leaves at 11:35 and arrives at 14:15. Going in the other direction, from Slovenia to Israel, the service leaves at 21:40 Tuesday and 15:15 Saturday, arriving at 02:00 Wednesday and 19:35 (Tues).
I’d heard of dark dining before. Some Maltese friends of mine who are living in Dubai have told me about their dinner experience at Noire in Fairmont Hotel—they loved it. But I’d never given it much thought till I got the opportunity to blind eat here in Ljubljana.
This would be my second unusual culinary adventure in Slovenia, after my Velenje Underground experience where I dined in a mine some 160 metres below the earth’s surface.
All sorts of questions started popping into my head at the thought of it. How dark WILL it be? How will I target the food without repeatedly poking my plate in vain? Will I love dining in the dark? Will I not? The only way to find out was to try it out. So I went ahead and made a booking for myself and my dinner companion.
Read a more personal and detailed account of my dark dining experience here.
Dark Dining at Hotel Slon
Ljubljana’s Dinner in the Dark takes place in one of the city’s most famous and elegant hotels, the Best Western Hotel Slon on Slovenska cesta. So you can expect nothing other than exquisite food, as the dinner-in-the-dark food dishes are prepared in-house by Hotel Slon’s chefs.
Read about Ljubljana’s most popular restaurants.
I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. Our portions were generous and the dishes made up a proper meal, rather than the cubes of meat that are known to be served at other similar gastro experiences. To top it all, Hotel Slon’s signature dessert is served at the end (more about this intriguing dessert here).
Two attentive waiters guide you through the dark via their night-vision goggles so you’re not trampling around the place aimlessly. Since the restaurant is pitch dark, there’s no need for diners to be blindfolded. You’re led to your seat, and once you’re seated the waiters explain where your cutlery, glasses, and water dispensing jug are.
You also have a container filled with water in which you can wash your hands should you decide to make more use of them rather than your cutlery while eating. You can feel around for your cutlery and use it. But this is actually one of the joys of eating in the dark: you have the liberty to feel your food with your hands, engage with it, and not be ashamed. Here, you can really get intimate with your food!
This unusual culinary experience lasts two hours and includes four courses. Before the dinner, you get to choose from either a meat or vegetarian menu. The food is traditional Slovene with a modern twist, so every dish came to me as a delightful surprise with lots of interesting combinations of flavours and textures.
We had everything from a tasty amuse-bouche combining basil, tomato, and buffalo mozzarella to braised veal cheeks served with popped buckwheat kernels. I’d had popped buckwheat with goat cheese mousse and buckwheat pancake at the Slovenian Cheese Festival last October. It adds such a great crunch to a dish, and in this case, contrasted so nicely with the braised meat.
This experience is not just about the food. Diners must undertake a few challenges in the form of guessing games. And if you want your digestive, you’ll need to look for it. But the probability of finding it is very high thanks to the waiters’ help. So you needn’t panic. It really is fun in the dark.
I now invite you to read my more personal dark dining story here. Enjoy the ride!
Pust begins in Ptuj this weekend, Saturday, 15 February 2020, with the first parade of characters like the famed Kurenti and many other colourful, amusing, and sinister characters. And on the same day, in the same space, is a complementary event that makes Ptuj the place to be if you’re looking for a well-rounded ethnographic experience and the chance to rub your own well-rounded belly, full of cultural heritage and charitable endeavour.
This is the Obarjada stew festival, organised for some 15 years by the local Lions Club, an event that sees around 5,000 people get into the carnival spirit and fortify themselves with food and drink, working with the Kurenti to help drive winter from the land. And while this year there’s not much need for that, there’s still a good case to be made for an early start to a party at this time of year.
The basic idea is this: there’s a competition in which teams compete to see who can make the most delicious stew out of a list of set ingredients – vegetables, chicken and spices – with the dishes then judged and a winner announced. But the day is much more than that. There’s food to sample, of course, and not just stew, with plenty of local delicacies along with wine and homemade spirits. You will not go hungry.
One thing to look out for is the roast potatoes, this year cooked by a team from Bukovci. All the money raised from the potatoes and stew competition will be collected by the Lions Club and given to disadvantaged families and individuals. So go along, eat some potatoes, and put some change or something quieter in any collecting bucket or other receptacle that has the appropriate signage.
Beyond food and drink there’ll be music and dancing, and the general liveliness that ensues when these four appear together in public, with people in costumes and masks acting as a force multiplier in this context.
If you want to go along and see what’s happening, and spend time in the oldest Slovenian city, then the Obarjada stew festival will start at 09:00 in the courtyard of the Minorit Monastery (more specifically, Minoritski samostan sv. Petra in Pavla, Minoritski trg 1), just in time for late breakfast, and is scheduled to last until 14:00.
Royal Bled already appears on the list of the best and most beautiful golf courses in the region of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and now it has another recognition, named as among golfscape’s top 100 courses in the world. The largest and oldest course in the country comes in at #86, just after The Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Miami, USA, and before Golf de Spérone, France.
Once again it’s the beauty of the area that catches the imagination of the authors, with the noting “the course is flanked by towering mountains and the impressive valleys of the Alps. With excellently manicured grounds, many hail it as one of the most beautiful courses in all of Europe.”
If you’d like to play a round at Royal Bled then note that it’s open from March to November, with both 18- and 9-hole course, and due to its status and appeal is one of the pricier golfing options in the country – but you get what you pay for. The website is here, while our look at all the 6-, 9- and 18-hole courses in Slovenia is here.
As reported by Ex-Yu Aviation, Qatar Airways is planning to hire cabin crew based in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, with registration for Slovenia and Serbia required by February 15. You can apply online, and applicants who make it to the shortlist will then be invited to an open day in Ljubljana, the date of which remains to be announced.
While the news does suggest the airline could soon start flights between Ljubljana and Doha, something it’s been considering since 2017, as yet nothing is scheduled and no contracts signed.
Those interested in the positions, which despite the picture in the hiring ad, as shown at the top of this page, is open to both men and women, must meet the following requirements:
More details can be found here.
After some years of plans that remained unrealised, Ex-Yu Aviation reports that the Ukrainian carrier Windrose Airlines is to start flights between Kiev and Ljubljana this summer. The service starts on 30 April and will operate twice weekly, on Tuesday and Sunday, with the schedule set to end in October, unless demand is greater than expected in the low season. The flights are scheduled to leave Kiev at 11:10 and arrive in Ljubljana 12:10, while they’ll take off from Slovenia at 12:50 and touchdown in Ukraine at 16:10.
SURS just released the full tourist figures for 2019, and although we already published a summary we thought we’d dig a little deeper into the data, to find some other trends and points of interest, with the top 10 nations for the year shown below (and the full list at the end of the story).
*Other Asian countries includes all Asian nations other than China, Japan and South Korea
When looking at the monthly data for all foreign tourists, the first thing to note is the extreme seasonality of such visits. The lowest figure, 167,689, was for February, while the highest, 879,291, was in August, with June to September all months with more than a half a million arrivals.
Of course, given the habit of summer vacations, and the fact that most visitors are from Europe, this isn’t surprising. But what about places with other traditions? The data for North East Asia – China, S Korea and Japan – shows a different picture, as does that for Other Asian countries (such as India, which isn’t yet pulled out of the data on its own) .
Looking at China alone and there are two peaks, either side of the August one for tourism in general, with a very off-trend spike in October. It’s much the same story elsewhere in Asia, as seen below in a chart for China, South Korea, Japan and “Other Asia”. All have peaks outside the high summer, in late spring and – with the exception of Japan – in autumn, too.
Combining all the numbers in the chart above gives the following for the whole of Asia.
This line can then be overlaid on the one for the whole world, producing the following image.
Finally, I took a look at the percentage of tourist arrivals from all of Asia by month, with it being 9.5% for the whole. There are two months where such tourists account for more than 15% of the total, in May (15.9%) and October (17.4%).
The data thus suggest that one way to reduce the seasonal nature of tourism in Slovenia, and the trade in related goods and services, would be to continue and extend efforts promote the country as a destination in Asia, as tourists from this region tend to avoid the peak summer months and arrive out of season. You can learn more and play around with the SURS data here.
The full list of nations and regions for which data on tourist arrivals in 2019 is available is shown below.
|Other Asian countries||176,454|
|Korea (Republic of)||139,451|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||72,112|
|Other countries of South and Middle America||26,248|
|Other European countries||25,732|
|Other African countries||8,927|
|Other countries of Oceania||396|
STA, 31 January 2020 - Some 6.2 million tourists visited Slovenia last year, a 5% increase compared to 2018. The number of overnight stays grew 0.6% to roughly 15.8 million, shows Statistics Office data released on Friday.
The number of Slovenian tourists increased by 1.3% to 1.5 million, while the number of foreign tourists grew by 6.3% to 4.7 million.
The bulk of the foreign tourists came from Italy, Germany and Austria, but while Austrians opted more often for holidays in Slovenia (up 10.7%), Italians were less likely to visit the country (down 8.5%).
Meanwhile, the number of tourists in December 2019 was on par with the year before. On the other hand, the number of overnight stays decreased by almost 9%.
The Christmas holiday season attracted foreign tourists mostly from Italy (26% of the foreign tourists), Austria (11%), Croatia (10%), Germany (6%) and Serbia (5%). Spas, the Slovenian Alps, the capital and the seaside were top destinations at the end of 2019.
STA, 29 January 2020 - This year's winter season has already seen more than 35 mountaineering accidents in which four persons have lost their lives. The number of such accidents has been gradually growing in recent years, with 604 rescue missions in total needed last year.
Jani Bele of the Slovenian Mountain Rescue Association said at Wednesday's press conference in Kranj that the number of mountaineering accidents had been growing year-on-year.
Last year, more than 40 people died in the mountains, half of them mountain climbers. Apart from mountaineering, paragliding, water sports and cycling have turned out to be the most risky sports activities.
The number of mountain search and rescue missions has been gradually increasing since 2013 when the figure stood at 392. In 2017, the number exceeded 500 and climbed to 537 a year later.
The head of the police mountain rescue unit Robert Kralj expressed hope that this surge would be halted this year. A 30% increase has been recorded so far in 2020 though.
The Slovenian Alps are a popular destination, including for tourists who are not familiar with the area or underestimate the terrain, going as far as throwing caution to the wind to get a perfect selfie.
Apart from slipping and falling from great heights, avalanches pose another grave risk, said Bele, urging hiking or skiing on marked trails and in designated areas with adequate equipment.