STA, 2 March 2021 - Every day, border police detect about a dozen falsified negative coronavirus tests with which passengers want to avoid quarantine upon entry into Slovenia, the General Police Department said on Tuesday, noting that using a fake test amounts to document falsification, a crime which carries a prison sentence of up to three years.
In January, the police detected an increase in the number of fake PCR tests at the border with Croatia presented by passengers from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.
Slovenians have also been caught with fake negative tests although not that often. But last weekend, as many as 15 Slovenians were caught trying to enter the country with fake tests at the Dragonja border crossing.
In most cases, the documents are complete fakes and are discovered because police officers are checking their authenticity via other institutions.
Fake test results are seized by the police and the perpetrator is charged with document falsification and ordered to quarantine.
Health Minister Janez Poklukar said the ministry was working on solutions alongside the Interior Ministry and epidemiologists.
He would not reveal what the measures could be, but expects a solution in the coming days.
STA, 1 March 2021 - EU ministers in charge of tourism have agreed it is important to ensure simple and predictable border crossing regimes, as they held a virtual meeting on Monday. This effort will expectedly be made easier with a digital vaccination passport the EU intends to propose later this month.
Economy Ministry state secretary Simon Zajc, who took part in the meeting alongside Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, told the press that the debate discussed joint solutions to re-establish cross-border travel flows and relaunch tourism.
"Most European destinations depend on incoming tourism, the loss of which domestic tourism cannot offset sufficiently; this is also the case in Slovenia," Zajc said.
A number of matters remain to be harmonised, as individual countries have different conditions in terms of borders, testing and quarantine. The state secretary said this is not only in the domain of ministers in charge of tourism but above all of interior ministers.
The main goal is to adopt harmonised measures to boost the single market, Zajc said, also quoting Počivalšek as saying it was key first and foremost to restore consumers' trust in the safety and predictability of cross-border travel and services.
Počivalšek also told his counterparts that vaccination certificates and rapid antigen testing procedures should be coordinated, as well as minimal standards or guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Countries should ensure predictable border crossing regimes and use all tools available, such as recovery, vaccination or testing certificates, to mitigate infection risk, and also to introduce training tools for those working in tourism, Počivalšek said at the meeting.
In the short term, liquidity funds will play a vital role for the sector, the minister said, while broader synergies will be needed for long-term recovery, as well as funds from the EU recovery plan. In the long term, the sector will have to face the challenges of digitalisation and sustainable development, said Počivalšek.
Also today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Commission would propose this month legislation for a "digital green passport", an EU-wide digital vaccination passport, which would show that a person has been vaccination, has recovered from Covid-19 or tested negative, if they were yet unable to get vaccinated.
Slovenia, a limestone treasure in south-eastern Europe. This small country, barely 220km’s across, has much to offer. Jagged and spotted with numerous unique and beautiful natural features. It is that unique characteristic of limestone, which makes up a greater part of the Slovenian landscape; spotted with hills and mountains, alpine lakes, alpine rivers and streams cutting their way into picturesque valleys.
It is these natural features, which are utilized by tourism and by curious explorers, who come to Slovenia to explore this diversity. Also, a significant number of Slovenia's citizens actively enjoy the outdoors; cycling, hiking, camping,
Hiking is a popular and widespread activity in Slovenia. From paths through parks and woods in and around the towns and cities of Slovenia, all the way, to treacherous and demanding hiking and climbing trails in Slovenia’s alpine regions.
Slovenia has two main mountain ranges. The Kamnik-Savinia Alps, just north of Ljubljana and the Julian Alps, in north-western Slovenia, which also has Slovenia’s highest mountain; Triglav, at 2864m. Slovenian mountain ranges are categorized under the Southern Limestone Alps system, also known as the child mountain ranges of the Alps. Therefore, relatively small mountain groups. Slovenia is thus abundant with hiking trails and footpaths.
Exploring Slovenia: Hiking a Gorgeous Ridge above Pokljuka (photo: Exploring Slovenia)
With all the hiking opportunities and terrain Slovenia has to offer, it has sadly seen a significant rise in hiking incidents and accidents. So much that the mountain rescue services have often been overwhelmed and unsuccessful to react to all incidents. According to the rescue services, the majority [over 90%] of incidents could be prevented.
A key to having a successful and enjoyable day out is preparation. Firstly, to know where you are going. A common appearance at the start of most trails in Slovenia are little red signs, indicating the direction and the approximate time needed for the trail. But only knowing the time needed, thus the approximate distance of a trail is
Not far out of Ljubljana, there is a solitary hill, Mount Saint Mary (Šmarna gora), which has numerous hiking trails, requiring up to two hours. These are well prepared and maintained trails. Therefore, ideal for anyone with average recreational gear and a comfortable pair of Nikes.
But if you take it a step further and head off into the Alps; and even though you may select a route which is marked as being the distance as on Šmarna gora , your comfortable pair of Nikes won’t be enough, with more appropriate footwear something that is emphasised by the mountain rescue service.
Call 112 for the mountain rescue service
Once you head into the country, thus onto more treacherous and unmaintained trails. A better pair of shoes, not only ones with a strong sole but which also sufficiently hug and support the ankles are more than fundamental. Inadequate footwear is too often the cause of turning an outing into an unpleasant event, or worse.
We emphasise the value of preparation; Know where you are going. If you’ve never been there before, a bit of research to get some basic information on the trail is always welcome. It’s always good to tell someone where you are going, and always stick to your plan. Don’t provoke or over-challenge your capabilities. Rather keep that for activities where you won’t jeopardise your safety or the safety of others. All too often, people admit to the rescue services that they didn’t know where they were going or they didn’t know the trail.
It’s always special to remember outings out in the country, in nature. So, let’s make sure that they are remembered and remain special, remembered for the right reasons.
STA, 21 February 2021 - Domestic tourists are expected to spend the rest of tourists vouchers, dominate this year's tourist season in Slovenia and make for the bulk of tourist nights, a survey into travel trends of Slovenians in 2021 shows.
"This year we expect the tourist vouchers to be again a big success after they saved our season in Bohinj last year," said the author of the survey, Anže Čokl, the head of two hotels from the area around the Alpine lake of Bohinj, north-west.
The number of foreign tourists will meanwhile heavily depend on vaccination rates, which will be key to restrictions easing, border reopening and an air travel rebound.
Domestic and foreign experts expect tourism to first recover at the local level where destinations can be reached by car.
Tourists are expected to book shorter holidays and closer home, while domestic tourists will expect to get even more for their money, the survey shows.
The problem are foremost destinations which are tightly linked to large groups from more distant parts of the world, such as Asia, Čokl explained.
However, as soon as it is possible, people will get back to old travel ways.
High hygiene standards are meanwhile there to stay and will play a major role in choosing accommodation, there should also be a rise in boutique accommodation and interest in less visited destinations.
With all hotels closed during the epidemic, there is a bit more time for education and preparations for next season, so I was interested to learn what Slovenian experts expect from this year's summer season, Čikl explained the motivation behind the survey. He thus talked to hotel directors, tour operators, researchers and other experts.
He said the structure of tourists in Bohinj completely changed last year, with the number of Slovenian tourists up from 8% in the pre-coronavirus year 2019 to 90%.
"Slovenians are good guests, but have different habits and the manner of travel than tourists from abroad."
The experience at Bohinj Eco Hotel shows that they like to spend much more time outdoor, while staying in Bohinj fewer days than foreigners, only 2-3 as opposed to 5-7.
Although he is not worried about the summer season, the problem is the events industry, a source of revenue in autumn and spring, which the pandemic has severely hit.
"When it comes to recovery in business events, we are unfortunately talking about years, not months," Čokl said.
STA, 21 February 2021 - Some 180 passengers are due to fly to Tenerife from Slovenia's main international airport today, as the first charter flight this year is to be operated from Ljubljana airport by Croatian air carrier Trade Air. Slovenian tour operators say that despite the coronavirus pandemic, interest in tourist travel is increasing.
There are more charter flights to come during the winter season at Ljubljana airport but the Tenerife one is so far the only tourist charter flight, Fraport Slovenija, the operator of the airport, told the STA.
The epidemiological situation permitting, Fraport hopes there will also be many more charter flights in the summer season than there were last year's.
Passengers on today's flight, organised by tourist agency Palma, travel to the Canary Islands with several tour operators, which say demand is huge.
The new normal of travel is related to all the precautionary coronavirus protocols, which our clients who want to travel have no problem with, Kompas told the STA.
Palma said people were eager to travel, so those inquiring about their package holidays were not dissuaded by the restrictions in their destinations.
Relax said that while they were still closed, demand for their package holidays abroad was increasing on their website by the day.
Slovenians are currently most interested in Slovenia, Croatia and the Mediterranean, but also in more exotic destinations such as the United Arab Emirates or Maldivas.
According to Kompas, people now tend to decide on travelling at the very last moment when they can already anticipate what protocols will be in place.
Despite the many uncertainties, the tour operators are preparing for more busier spring and summer months as usual.
"We plan long in advance but we decide momentarily. The safety and health of our passengers always come first," Kompas said.
The Foreign Ministry meanwhile urges caution, advising citizens not to travel abroad if possible or postpone it until the epidemiological situation has improved.
It said it would not be able to provide assistance to those who might get stuck as a result of coronavirus-related decisions by countries where they travel.
STA, 13 February 2021 - Slovenia scrapped checkpoints on its borders with Austria, Croatia and Hungary starting on Saturday and those who have recovered from Covid-19 or have been vaccinated can now enter the country without having to quarantine or provide a negative coronavirus test.
Under the new government decree governing Covid-19 restrictions on borders, it is now possible once again to cross the border with Austria, Hungary and Italy via all crossings rather than just designated checkpoints, a system that had been put in place in the early stages of the pandemic.
In practice, however, that may not be so simple since neighbouring countries each have their own requirements.
Slovenia also added a new list of high risk countries to the red list to comprise countries in the EU and Schengen area whose epidemiological status is poorer than Slovenia's. Only Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic are currently on the list
Arrivals from those countries will have to produce a negative coronavirus test, but from Saturday it will also be possible to cross the border with a positive PCR test dating at least 21 days but no more than six months back, or with a doctor's note proving the person has recovered from Covid-19 that should be no older than six months.
Also valid will be negative tests issued by labs in third countries approved by the National Institute of Public Health, while only doctor's notes are required for arrivals from EU and Schengen countries.
Those immunised against the virus who produce proof they have received a second jab will also be allowed to cross without restrictions.
All other conditions for entering the country continue to apply
STA, 3 February - Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has announced it will restore flights between Ljubljana and Moscow next week. It is to operate one flight a week until the end of the winter schedule. Currently only three carriers fly from Ljubljana airport - Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Air Serbia.
Aeroflot's first flight is scheduled for next Friday, 12 February, the operator of Ljubljana airport, Fraport Slovenija, told the STA.
According to web portal Sierra5, the resuming of flights to Ljubljana is yet to be approved by the Russian aviation authorities.
After an absence of 15 years, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot returned to Ljubljana airport in October 2018. As the Covid-19 epidemic started, all of its flights were suspended. Only one charter flight to Russia was organised last November for young Russian athletes.
At present, Ljubljana airport is connected only to Frankfurt through Lufthansa, Belgrade through Air Serbia and Istanbul through Turkish Airlines.
According to web portal Ex-Yu Aviation, Slovenia will record the biggest drop in commercial flights in Europe this month. Compared to last February, air traffic is expected to drop by 90%.
Fraport Slovenija is counting on more traffic in the summer season starting at the end of March. Several carriers announced flights to and from Ljubljana in that period, including Wizz Air with flights to Belgium's Charleroi, Transavia with flights to Amsterdam, Easyjet flying to London's Gatwick and Polish LOT with flights to Warsaw.
Air France is to resume flights to Paris at the end of this month.
The summer schedule is also to include Easyjet's flights to London's Luton, Swiss flying to Zurich, Lufthansa with flights to Munich and Brussels Airlines flying to Brussels.
In May, the Turkish-German carrier SunExpress is to start flying to Antalya again, and Israeli carrier El Al is to set up a connection to Tel Aviv.
British Airways is expected to restore flights to Heathrow at the end of May, while Finnair is to start flying to Helsinki in June.
Fraport Slovenija noted that the situation in the world was changing on a daily basis, so the plans were not final yet.
Slovenia has offered subsidies for foreign air carriers to fly to Ljubljana. Eight airlines - Turkish Airlines, Swiss Air, Air Serbia, Montenegro Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, Wizzair and LOT - won the subsidies worth almost EUR 1 million in the first call for applications in November 2020.
Montenegro Airlines has since gone bankrupt as a result of Covid-19.
Under the terms of the scheme, the recipients of the subsidies will have to operate scheduled flights to at least one airport in Slovenia twice a week in the 2021 summer season, between 28 March and 30 October.
STA, 1 February - After a very rough year that saw the coronavirus pandemic halve tourist arrivals, Slovenia's tourism sector is in for another demanding year in 2021. However, the country holds the title the European Region of Gastronomy this year, bringing hope that the sector will once again be able to open.
This year, the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) included restaurateurs in its scheme with the sign Slovenia Green Cuisine.
Being the European Region of Gastronomy, Slovenia has great potential due to its quality local ingredients, tradition and creativity, an online press conference on Monday heard.
But in 2020, Slovenia's tourism sector found itself at the same level as it was 10 years ago, Maja Pak, the director of the STO said.
Recovery will take a long time, she said, estimating that the figures recorded in 2019 could be reached only around 2024.
The situation is not expected to improve much this year, albeit more foreign guests are expected, whereas their numbers plummeted in 2020, while the number of domestic guests increased by about 20% over 2019.
Data by the European Travel Commission show that Slovenia and Denmark were the only two European destinations that recorded an increase in the overnight stays of domestic guests in 2020.
Vaccination inspires hope for the future, however it is still key that tourism businesses survive until guests return, said Simon Zajc, state secretary at the Economy Ministry.
"True recovery will only be possible when international transport is relaunched and restrictive measures are lifted both in Slovenia and abroad," he added.
He believes that the mitigation measures by the government aimed at helping companies survive had gone a long way in helping to preserve jobs in the sector. Among others, he highlighted the extension of the tourism voucher scheme.
Expressing hope that accommodation facilities will be able to open soon, he did however not wish to speculate when this could be.
STA, 1 February 2021 - The lakeside resort of Bled, one of the country's top tourist destinations, can look forward to a museum of contemporary art. Designed by the renowned David Chipperfield, the museum will be located at the foot of the castle hill, along the main road leading up to the castle. Construction work is to begin in the spring.
The museum will feature works by world-renowned artists, above all those from the private collection of Igor and Mojca Lah. The Lah family was fourth on the Manager magazine list of richest Slovenians last year.
The couple have founded the Swiss-based Lah Contemporary Foundation. On its website the museum has also been announced, bearing the name Lah Contemporary Museum.
The news of forthcoming construction was announced in a press release from Bled's municipal Culture Institute, on Monday, soon after Artarhiv, a Ljubljana-based company, received a construction permit for the new museum.
The Culture Institute believes that the museum will raise the appeal factor of Bled, Slovenia and this part of Europe among art connoisseurs.
The press release also said that Chipperfield would come to Bled to present the design as soon as the pandemic restrictions allow.
STA, 27 January 2021 - The Trbovlje power station's 360-metre chimney, the tallest in Europe but no longer in use, has been turned into the world's longest artificial multi-pitch climbing route. Slovenian world-class climbers, Janja Garnbret and Domen Škofic, have already successfully ascended it.
The longest climbing route was designed by licenced Slovenian route setters Katja Vidmar and Simon Margon.
The route has 13 pitches, with the most difficult one graded 8b+. They used some 800 holds, which weighed over two tonnes.
Garnbret and Škofic, two of the world's best sport climbers, took it on in the autumn but managed to climb it only in the second attempt.
The first attempt took 12 hours but did not count because they reached the top only after several falls. The second, successful one took them seven and a half hours.
Their attempt was filmed to make a 48-minute documentary, which premiered online today.
STA, 29 January 2021 - Slovenia recorded slightly over three million arrivals of domestic and foreign tourists in 2020, down by almost 51% on 2019, as a surge in domestic tourism failed to offset the collapse in foreign tourist arrivals, show data released by the Statistics Office on Friday.
Slovenian tourist accommodation facilities saw a 21% increase in domestic arrivals at the annual level with their overnight stays rising by 33%.
The arrivals of foreign tourists were down by 74%, whereas the overnight stays by them dropped by 71% on 2019.
Out of the foreign overnight tourists most came from Germany (almost 25%), followed by Austrians and Italians (11% each), Croatians (7%), Hungarians and the Dutch (each 5%).
The arrivals of both foreign and domestic tourists were down by 97% year-on-year in December, to just 9,300, and overnight stays plunged by 91%, as the lockdown shut down virtually the entire tourism sector.
Foreign tourists that spent the most nights in Slovenia in December came from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia.