23 Aug 2020, 11:34 AM

STA, 22 August 2020 - Slovenian tourism will see a 70% drop in tourists from abroad this year, but Slovenians holidaying in the country in big numbers, also due to tourist vouchers distributed by the state to help the industry, will offset the loss somewhat, so that the overall drop is to amount to around 50%.

To accommodate the industry to a new reality resulting from the coronavirus, Slovenian partners are working on a recovery plan, Slovenia's Tourist Board (STO) announced.

The STO is aware people will always want to travel, yet not at all cost, but to "destinations which can guarantee a safe and at the same time pleasant experience", STO director Maja Pak said in a release.

The STO is thus working together with the Economy Ministry, tourism industry representatives, product associations and destination managers to prepare a recovery plan for Slovenian tourism.

The document is to digitalise and optimise marketing and promotion to bring them in line with travellers' new habits, and bring new criteria to assess success in tourism.

Since the coronavirus hit the country in March, the STO has launched several campaigns, focussing on promoting Slovenia as a green, safe and responsible destination.

Just recently, Virtuoso Travel Week, an online event promoting boutique and luxury tourism, was attended by over 4,000 tourist agents and destination managers from 96 countries.

The STO is also enhancing communication with foreign businesses with new projects.

One is a digital platform enabling travel agents to deepen their knowledge about Slovenia and potentially include it among their destinations.

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) data shows interest in travel is still below last year's, but despite a 20% drop in the interest, Europe is still the most desired tourist destination.

22 Aug 2020, 18:10 PM

STA, 22 August 2020 - Contrary to expectations, Slovenians holidaying in neighbouring Croatia are not yet returning home in great numbers after the country was put on Slovenia's red list in terms of Covid-19. Waiting times on the border to enter Slovenia are thus comparable to previous years.

More massive returns are expected on Sunday and Monday, as Slovenians can return from Croatia without having to go into a 14-day quarantine until Monday midnight.

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Police data from border crossings with Croatia shows that it is mainly Germans and Czechs crossing into Slovenia, including at two of the main border crossings - Dragonja in the south-west and Gruškovje in the east.

Data from the Traffic Information Centre meanwhile shows that the longest waiting time to enter Slovenia is an hour and a half at Gruškovje.

Many are still also heading for Croatia, and have to wait around an hour at Dragonja, the longest waiting time.

Mirko Skuhala of border police at Gruškovje told the press today that 11,000 vehicles entered Slovenia last night, which is on a par with the same period last year.

20 Aug 2020, 21:11 PM

STA, 20 August 2020 - Slovenia has put Croatia on the red list of countries from which travellers must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine effective on Friday, but the government has also put in place a number of exemptions to make sure trade, commerce and cross-border ties with Croatia as well as other neighbouring countries run smoothly.

There will be a special exemption for owners and lessees of boats and real estate. They will be allowed to leave the country for 48 hours to sort out any errands concerning their property without having to quarantine on return. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said this was not a blank check for such persons to travel back and forth all the time.

This exemption will apply to all neighbouring countries in the event they are placed on the red list; Croatia is currently the only red-listed neighbouring country.

There is also a new exemption for those who have a medical exam in a neighbouring country: they are allowed to return without quarantining if they get back immediately after the completed exam and present evidence thereof.

Additional exemptions have been added for all red-listed countries. Professional athletes and their staff, and members of foreign official delegations will be allowed to enter without quarantining but must present a negative Covid-19 test.

Students, those travelling for family matters and those attending funeral will be allowed to travel outside Slovenia without quarantining as well, provided they are back within 24 hours.

The government had debated red-listing only the most heavily affected regions in Croatia, which is exactly what Germany has done, but Hojs said the average across the entire country was already "deep in the red zone" so it was decided to put the entire country on the red list.

There were also ideas that people could avoid quarantine by taking a coronavirus test, but according to Hojs, epidemiologists said a 14-day quarantine was the best precautionary measure.

Since there are well over 100,000 Slovenians currently on holiday in Croatia, the government has given them until the end of Monday to return without having to quarantine. This should prevent heavy traffic on the border.

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Hojs said the government would monitor the situation in Croatia on a weekly basis and change the relevant decree if the epidemiological situation there improves.

In a related development, the government removed Greece from the green list, placing it on the interim, yellow list, from which most arrivals except Slovenian nationals and residents must undergo quarantine.

At the same time, conditions have been tightened for some persons who must present a negative Covid-19 test to avoid quarantine.

Only tests from certified third-country laboratories will be accepted and their suitability will be checked by the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, and the National Health Laboratory. The list of recognised third-country laboratories will be published on the website of the National Health Laboratory.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countriesAll our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia

20 Aug 2020, 12:23 PM

STA, 20 August 2020 - The 19th Tartini Festival will get under way tonight as part of more than 60 events dedicated to the 250th anniversary of the death of Piran-born Italian Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770).

The opening concert will be given at St George's Church in the coastal town of Piran by the Venice Baroque Orchestra and acclaimed violinist Giuliano Carmignola.

The festival's series of 13 concerts connecting Piran and Koper will then wrap up in Ljubljana on 3 December at the Slovenian Philharmonic Hall.

The concert will feature Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss am Rhein, a German chamber orchestra, and its artistic director, Dutch violinist Isabelle van Keulen.

Apart from Tartini, it will feature Beethoven as part of Beethoven's Year, as well as Dvoržak, Bartok and Slovenia's contemporary composer Aldo Kumar.

To make the anniversary especially festive, some of the greatest European violinists specialising in Tartini have been invited to the festival.

Artistic director Jasna Nadles highlighted Giuliano Carmignola and Giorgio Fava from Italy, David Plantier from France and Laszlo Paulik from Hungary.

Music lovers will also get a chance to hear the sound of Tartini's violin which was made by Italian master luthier Nicolo Amati and is kept at Piran's Maritime Museum.

It will be played at the 29 August concert given by I Solisti Veneti, the festival's regular guest from Italy, which has prepared a special tribute to the composer.

Several young musicians will meanwhile play jazz arrangements of Tartini music at two concerts as part of a Tartini Junior series.

With the exception of the opening and closing concerts, all concerts will be held in the open air.

One of the highlights of Tartini 250, organised by the Piran municipality and partners throughout Tartini's Year, meanwhile took place before the festival.

On 2 August Portorož hosted the Roma Philharmonics (I Filarmonici di Roma) with acclaimed soloist Uto Ughi, who played a Tartini violin.

The concert coincided with the day 124 years ago when the Tartini monument was unveiled in Piran's square bearing the composer's name.

Tartini, the most famous Piran resident, was christened on 8 April 1692 at St George's Church, which is considered his birthday. He died in Padua on 26 February 1770.

Check out the website or Facebook page, with the full programme here, and find another great reason to visit the small but perfectly formed Slovenian coast.

19 Aug 2020, 14:38 PM

STA, 19 August 2020 - Slovenia plans to put Croatia on the red list of countries from which travellers must undergo a 14-day quarantine. Those already in Croatia have until the end of the week to avoid quarantine, those travelling there as of Friday will have to quarantine, government spokesman Jelko Kacin said on Wednesday.

The decision to red-list Croatia will formally be made at Thursday's cabinet session and published in the Official Gazette the same day.

It will also be clear tomorrow how long exactly those who are currently in Croatia will have to return without quarantining, with Kacin saying the deadline may be extended to Monday if necessary.

"Fact is that the situation in Croatia is deteriorating dramatically. Data on infections show that the situation is really bad," Kacin said after the government meet epidemiologists to discuss the way forward.

He said Croatia was likely to today exceed 40 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in over a 14-day period, the threshold in Slovenia for putting countries on the red list.

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"We don't have any other choice but to urge our citizens to return from the dangerous country as soon as possible, regardless of what kind of arrangements they have. The situation is deteriorating rapidly and will get much worse," he said.

The decision comes after the government started issuing increasingly stern warnings to Slovenian holidaymakers in Croatia that the situation was getting out of hand, in particular due to beach parties at several popular tourist resorts in Dalmatia.

Almost half the new cases Slovenia registered on Monday were imported from Croatia, and most of the infected persons are young, under 35, raising fears that a surge in infections could derail the start of the school year.

Unofficial information indicates several options were under discussion in recent days, including mandatory quarantine just for those under 35 or a waiver of quarantine for those who own boats and property in Croatia.

These considerations appear to have been shelved now, although Kacin said boat and property owners would get a chance before winter to sort things out.

"This will be a one-off opportunity, strictly limited and expressed in hours, in order to prevent people heading to Croatia this weekend and making traffic even worse," he said.

Several exemptions will be available in order to facilitate cross-border commerce and transport, but Kacin did not elaborate what they would be.

The latest statistics on coronavirus and Slovenia, and the latest police news on red, green and yellow list countriesAll our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia

18 Aug 2020, 20:52 PM

STA, 18 August 2020 - The government's Covid-19 spokesperson Jelko Kacin said on Tuesday that a decision on imposing quarantine on persons returning from Croatia would be made at Thursday's government session. The measure is expected to kick in by the start of the next week, with enough time given to people to return home before its implementation, said Kacin.

Given the rising numbers of imported coronavirus cases from Croatia in the past week, restrictions have to be implemented to curb that, said Kacin, adding that it was yet to be seen whether there would be any potential exemptions from the measure based on age, region or a negative coronavirus test.

On Wednesday, the government is to meet experts at Brdo pri Kranju to discuss the details of mandatory quarantine for travellers from Croatia and come up with a final strategy. Kacin called for a targeted measure.

On Thursday evening, the government will then endorse the measure, giving people a couple or a few days to return to Slovenia from Croatia in time to avoid the mandatory quarantine.

Kacin expects the measure to enter into force during the weekend. Police officers will be required to issue a quarantine order for everyone returning from Croatia, he added.

Until Monday, the Health Ministry issued 50,500 such orders. The average time of issuing the order at a border crossing is about 14 minutes, the ministry told the STA on Tuesday.

The bulk of quarantine orders is issued to persons coming from countries deemed highly Covid-19 risky. Contacts with those infected with the virus may also prompt such a measure.

There is no detailed data on the number of Slovenians currently holidaying in Croatia though. According to the country's figures, there are some 160,000 Slovenian citizens in Croatia at the moment, said Kacin.

Croatia has recorded 914,000 arrivals of Slovenian tourists since the beginning of 2020. Slovenians have been topped only by German tourists in terms of generating overnight stays in Croatia's tourism this year, creating 7 million overnight stays, said the Croatian Ministry of Tourism and Sport.

Kacin said that the government was daily monitoring the coronavirus situation in Croatia and other hotspots in the Western Balkans. The new cases imported from Croatia mainly stem from the country's southern regions and mostly involve persons aged between 15 and 35. On Monday, 12 infections were confirmed in persons who had returned from Croatia.

Kacin pointed out that the young were attending parties on Croatia's coast. They get infected and do not disclose who else was with them, adding that it was likely many were not detected and kept on spreading the virus.

Asked whether Slovenia would later upgrade Croatia from the red list of countries, which signals high risk in terms of coronavirus contagion, to the yellow list, which does not require mandatory self-isolation for Slovenian travellers, if Croatia closed nightclubs, Kacin said that Slovenia would welcome any measures stemming the spread of the virus.

He pointed out that the number of imported cases had a great impact on Slovenia's epidemiologic status. The effective reproduction number, showing to how many people the infected person transmits the virus, would stand at 0.68 if there would be no imported cases. As it is, the number is 1.24.

16 Aug 2020, 20:31 PM

STA, 15 August 2020 - The tourism vouchers have made for a good season in Gorenjska, one of Slovenia's prime tourism regions with its Alpine lakes of Bled and Bohinj and the mountain centre of Kranjska Gora. Tourism officials say domestic guests have almost fully offset the drop in foreign tourists, an exception being Bled where some hotels have remained closed.

According to the director of the Kranjska Gora Tourist Board Blaž Veber, capacities in the Upper Sava Valley in the north-west of the country are almost fully booked. Some vacancies remain in camps and in mountain huts since the weather has been a bit capricious this year.

Veber hopes the voucher system will be continued into next year, "since we know that the global situation is still very critical, that new hotspots are emerging and that things will not quickly get back to what they were before 9 March".

As many as 90% of the guests in Kranjska Gora this year have been Slovenians. Many have also been coming only for one-day trips, a development that has been observed for lake Bohinj as well, where this is being stimulated with more frequent and cheaper bus lines.

The director of Tourism Bohinj Klemen Langus said that capacities are 90% or 95% full and that is seems that July and August will see similar figures as last year after only 30% of last year's performance was recorded in June before the state-subsidised vouchers were introduced.

As many Slovenian only come for a one-day hike or a swim, domestic guests have been less dominant in accommodation facilities, but they have nonetheless been accounting for 60% to 65% of overnight stays.

Slovenian guest have meanwhile traditionally been a very small minority at Bled, where they usually account for only 5% of overnight stays.

Some hotels have remained closed this year, while the open ones have seen 70% to 80% of their capacities filled. Private room providers and the camping and glamping sites have on there been happy with the figures.

"Given the situation, we are fairly happy with the visit in August," Romana Purkart of Tourism Bled explained. July, with 60% of capacities filled, was much better than June but it cannot compare to last year, she added

More on Slovenia’s tourism vouchers

16 Aug 2020, 12:14 PM

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Tartini, the Piran-born violinist and composer whose namesake square is the focus of much activity in the town. The 19th Tartini Festival is thus a special one, with a program that stretches from the man himself to the present day, from Slovenia to beyond. What’s more, Tartini’s original violin will be taken out of the Maritime Museum and played – although note this is not the Stradivarius the Piran composer was the first owner of, which has gone down in history as the Lipinski.


Tartini Square was once part of the sea, as in this photo from sometime in the late 19th century (source: Wikipedia). More old photos of the square.

With the exception of the opening night on August 20 – which is in St. George's Church in Piran – all the concerts will take place outdoors. The historical ambiance of the Slovenian coast, with its Venetian style, thus provides the backdrop to the performances at Piran’s Minorite Monastery (Minoritski samostan sv. Frančiška v Piranu) and Koper’s Praetorian Palace (Atrij Pretorske palace), the beautiful architecture just the most visible aspect of the area’s rich cultural heritage.

Since Tartini’s instrument was the violin the program features outstanding European violinists performing in various ensembles. The opening concert, on August 20, 2020, will feature the Venice Baroque Orchestra and violinist Giuliano Carmignola.

The program then continues with performances from artists such as Isabelle van Keulen, Giorgio Fava, I Solisti Veneti, Paolo Perrone, David Plantier, and László Paulik – with the full schedule and tickets on the Tartini Festival 2020 website.

Moreover, the Tartini Festival’s own ensemble, Il Terzo Suono, will once again be performing baroque music on period instruments and aiming for historically correct interpretations, as seen and heard in the videos accompanying this story.

In addition to established artists, the festival also supports the future of Slovenian music with workshops, masterclasses and the opportunity to gain experience of playing live. The Tartini Junior is supported by the Municipality of Koper.

Check out the website or Facebook page, and find another great reason to visit the small but perfectly formed Slovenian coast.

13 Aug 2020, 11:51 AM

STA, 12 August - Domestic guests have flooded Slovenian tourist resorts this summer, due to uncertainties about travel abroad as well as government-sponsored tourism vouchers. In many places they have saved the tourism season, but they have also been causing problems, in particular in places where foreign guests used to dominate.

Slovenian media have been abuzz in recent weeks about stories of Slovenian guests misbehaving, in particular in places that would normally be outside their price range but have become affordable due to the tourism vouchers.

Šobec, a high-end campsite not far from Bled, warned earlier this week that they had Slovenian guests unaccustomed to camping and they were not familiar with campsite etiquette.

"We doubled all security services in the camp, we have assistance from police and security guards, but still some groups of guests are causing inadmissible unrest," the camp director said.

Similar complaints have come from campsites and hotels on the coast.

In one instance about 30 guests, reportedly Roma from south Slovenia, engaged in a shouting match at a campsite in Ankaran after they refused to pay their bills.

Police in Portorož, an upscale tourist town popular among wealthy Russian and Italian guests, have had their work cut out as well.

In the last few weeks they have had to deal with a drunk woman who bit a cop after being pulled over, and a drunk man who scattered trash around the road before lying down on the road surface.

Figures released today by the Piran police station, which covers Portorož, show the number of minor offences and crimes rising by almost a third this season. In July alone the number of criminal offences rose by 13% year-on-year.

Learn more about Slovenia’s tourism vouchers

12 Aug 2020, 12:26 PM

STA, 11 August 2020 - The coronavirus pandemic has caused the number of visitors in mountain huts plummet by 25%, while some huts high in the mountains have seen their visitor numbers drop by as much as 50%, as significantly fewer foreigners are hiking in Slovenia this year. However, the number of Slovenians staying at the huts has increased.

According to the Slovenian Alpine Association, huts accessible by car have actually seen their visitor numbers go up, as many Slovenians have decided to redeem their tourism vouchers there.

"Compared to previous seasons, the structure of guests has changed. While 70% of our gusts last year were foreigners, they make up only a handful this year ... with nearly 95% of our guests being Slovenians," said Jakob Zupanc of the Srednja Vas Alpine Association, which operates four easily accessible huts in the Bohinj area, north-west.

Data from the Financial Administration (FURS) shows that over 1,833 vouchers had been redeemed in mountain huts, or 1.67% of all vouchers, which have been issued to every permanent resident in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, health restrictions mean that capacities are lower than usual. Under the orders of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), a maximum of two people can sleep in the same room, with exceptions being members of the same household and people hiking together.

The tourism voucher scheme designed by the government to help tourism recover from the pandemic has drawn to the huts Slovenians who usually would not have opted for the mountains, said Dušan Prašnikar of the Alpine Association.

As of July, visitors can book their stay at some of the mountain huts on the Alpine Association's website. The system, used across the Alps, also allows easier bookings at mountain huts abroad, said Prašnikar.

Slovenia has a network of more than 10,000 kilometres of mountain paths connecting 179 mountain huts, shelters and bivouacs providing a total of 7,400 beds and the capacity to feed more than 10,000 guests at one time.

12 Aug 2020, 11:54 AM

STA, 12 August 2020 - Ljubljana, whose tourism has been booming before the corona crisis, saw a 76% drop in nights spent in accommodation facilities in July compared to the same month last year. Hotels were only about 30% booked for last month, and in August this rose to 40%.

The data for 22 hotels and two hostels in the capital, of which four hotels were still closed in July and one of them opened partly in August, depending on demand, shows that in July, 28,150 nights were recorded, a significant drop from 117,000 in the same period last year, when they were all open.

Between 1 and 9 August, tourists spent 12,700 nights at the hotels and hostels, while almost 38,200 nights were generated in the same period last year.

"We mostly have foreign guests but we are happy that the number of Slovenian guests has risen significantly this year," Turizem Ljubljana told the STA, noting that 40% more Slovenian guests were recorded in July than in the same month last year, and that in the first nine days of August their number doubled.

Slovenians generated about 14% of all nights in both July and August.

The 18 or 19 hotels and two hostels that were open in August were 40% booked this month.

Turizem Ljubljana hopes that if the coronavirus situation remains unchanged or improves, the figures will rise further. A major promotion campaign is planned for the capital in Slovenia in September.

"We cannot be happy with the summer season," assistant director of Hotel Slon in the centre of Ljubljana Željko Vrhovac told the STA, noting that the occupancy rate was about 30%, which is 60 percentage points lower than in the same period in the past years.

"We've expected a faster recovery but the situation with the second wave of Covid-19 changed all that."

The share of Slovenian guests at the hotel reached about 10% in July and August, while before Covid-19, their share was less than 1%. "We attribute the rise to tourist vouchers and special packages we have prepared, and also restrictions to travelling abroad," he said.

Foreign guests mostly come from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. But these are individuals spending their holidays here, while other segments of guests such as business guests, conferences, seminars and groups have not picked up yet.

Vrhovac does not expect the situation to improve significantly until a vaccine is found.

Another Ljubljana hotel, which is slightly further away from the centre, the M Hotel, is posting an occupancy rate of 20%, which compares to 96% in the same period last year.

"Perhaps we expected a bit more Italian guests, who are quite regular visitors to Slovenia, and consequently a bit more bookings in August, but very few have come and there are no new reservations," said Gregor Erbežnik, head of sales at M Hotel.

Most of their guests are in transit, stopping on their way to Croatia. They also have some business guests. "We have virtually no Slovenian guests, despite the vouchers, which was expected, as people choose coastal and mountain destinations over Ljubljana."

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