STA, 12 November 2019 - Slovenian tourism is in for another record year in terms of arrivals and nights by foreign tourists, even if growth rates are slowing down in Slovenia and globally. And while some goals from the 2017-2021 national tourism strategy have already been achieved, there is still a lot to be done in terms of revenue and company restructuring.
Arrivals and nights by foreign tourists grew this year until August, by 7.1% and 3.5%, respectively, and revenue from foreign tourists rose by 3% to EUR 1.9 billion until the end of August, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told the press in Ljubljana on Tuesday.
This means two goals were already achieved in 2018, arrivals and nights, he said at the Days of Slovenian Tourism, the main tourism industry event in the country.
However, "the main goal of the strategy is EUR 3.7-4 billion in revenue from foreign tourists, which means a lot of hard work until the end of this period," he added.
Compared to the baseline year 2016, revenue from foreign tourists rose by 24% to EUR 2.7 billion in 2018, and only by another 3% since last year.
?Na Dnevih slovenskega turizma o projektih in izzivih, ki bodo spreminjali prihodnost slovenskega turizma #DST2019— Slovenia Tourism (@tourism_slo) November 12, 2019
?Podrobnejši program so predstavili gostje na današnji novinarski konferenci v prostorih Grand Hotela Union.
?Več informacij➡️https://t.co/dX4cxtKRkk pic.twitter.com/UFBsog9bfW
Počivalšek also presented some other priorities: efforts to restructure state-owned tourism companies; making hospitality legislation more flexible; and public calls.
He said everything had been done to prepare the ground for the transfer of ownership and management of state-owned tourism companies to a state-owned fund.
Nevertheless, the minister said it was hard to say when this would actually happen, noting a plurality of different interests.
As for legislation, he said the hospitality sector needed simpler and fresher legislation that would enable it to develop gastronomy.
The ministry is also planning new calls for applications to distribute EUR 5.5 million to leading destinations in the coming two years.
Three million euro will be available for new products, EUR 21 million to make tourist accommodation and restaurants energy efficient and another EUR 5 million for the same purpose for mountain cottages.
Počivalšek also said that in 2017-2018, the state spent EUR 17.3 million on 121 projects that should bring 185 new or upgraded tourist products plus 190 new jobs.
Speaking at the same news conference, Slovenian Tourism Association head Pavle Hevka stressed tourism was the most important sector of economy for Slovenia.
He believes it facilitates quality development to the capital city, as well other smaller and bigger towns, villages and even more remote parts of the country.
Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) director Maja Pak said the STO would continue to focus on digital advertising, working with journalists and influencers.
It will moreover present Slovenia at global tourist and other events, including Expo in Dubai and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, while also planning to use Slovenia's EU presidency in 2021 as a promotional opportunity. Gastronomy will also be an area in the focus in the next two years.
This year's Days of Slovenian Tourism are organised by all leading partners in the industry under the wing of the STO.
Ljubljana Free Tour has an eye-catching name, but what’s the business behind it, and does it really work? We sent some questions to the group, who were kind enough to answer.
Look for the yellow umbrellas
How long has Ljubljana Free Tour been running?
Since 2009. It was a difficult start as hotels would not work with us due to their belief that if something is free, it can’t be very good. We have over the years gained an impeccable reputation for quality, and today most hotels recommend us to their guests and call us as soon as they run out of fliers. Today free tours run 365 days a year, no booking is required. The service is always available regardless of weather.
Where did you get the idea from?
The Free Tour concept began in Berlin, in 2007. We were there that year and took a free tour not knowing what to expect. We were absolutely shocked .. not by the free concept, but by the quality of tour. The tour was engaging, informative, funny, fluid and simply changed our whole perception of “tours”. The guide had to work hard to earn their tips and did a great job.
Who are your guides?
All guides are local guides with a valid Slovene guiding license, a must in Slovenia. They are all academics and for many guiding is their second job. Our team includes university and college lecturers, academic researchers, school teachers, special education specialists, a sociologist, a historian, an archaeologist and even a street performer. They are all highly knowledgeable yet entertaining, true professionals who are able to deliver quality tours in an entertaining and fun manner. With over 3,000 reviews on TripAdviser alone, it is easy to see the great job they do.
How do they get paid?
On free tours guides earn only the tips they receive from guests. This ensures they will always do their best to deliver a great tour. The better they do the more they can earn. The sound of happy tourists applauding our guides can be heard across town on a daily basis. Contrary to belief, even though they make money by tips, all their earnings are properly declared.
You also organize paid tours – how are these different?
The idea is simple. Guests come on morning free tours, are impressed by the quality of tour they receive, and opt for a paid tour in the afternoon. At present, the only regularly running paid tour we have is the Communist Tour, which runs several times a week in season. In this case tourists arrive at the meeting point and pay €12 to participate in the tour. We know that without our reputation, no one would come. Like our free tours, no prior booking is required. We have enough guides on site to split large numbers into smaller groups. And of course, like any agency, we also offer various private tours in 10 different languages – including Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Private tours are mostly paid in advance.
Aside from the usual sights of Ljubljana, what else do you cover?
Our Classic City free tours visit the main tour sights in the centre and Old Town. However, it’s the structure, content and stories we deliver that differentiates us from other tours in town. There is so much to tell and we believe tours must give added value compared to guidebooks. Tours should be informative and fun.
In addition to the Classic City, we also offer an “Old Town & Castle” Free Tour which run several times a week in season. This tour visits further sights in the Old Town (beyond those on the classic city tour) and continues with a walk up to Ljubljana Castle, where we tour the inner courtyard and some towers.
In addition to classic city tours, we also offer niche tours such as the Communist Tour, Jewish Heritage Tour, boat tours and custom made tours for guests with specific interests.
Do you have any special plans for the winter season?
We are always checking options for adding new tours and have several tours ready in the drawer. Many consider us the best in town and we prefer to concentrate on what we do best … Ljubljana walking tours.
Where can people learn more?
For more information our website would be a good place to start. Elsewhere, on TripAdvisor we’ve been ranked as #1 out of 155 tours in Ljubljana for about eight years in a row. We've even gained Hall of fame status for exceptional quality. I guess we can let over 3,000 reviews speak for themselves.
Anything else you’d like to say?
We believe what we do contributes greatly to the promotion of Ljubljana and Slovenia. Think of it, many of our participants are backpackers who would otherwise never go on a paid tour. Now, instead of simply wondering around town clueless or drinking away their afternoon, we take them on a historical trip of town, inject them with some local culture and infect them with a love for Ljubljana and the country as a whole. We make their visit better and they take that back home with them. It is wonderful promotion for Slovenia and assists in shaping the perception of the country abroad.
It seems a lot of journalists and photographers, bloggers and Instagrammers visited Slovenia over the summer, with their content now coming online. Much of this is just people posing at Bled and Dragon Bridge, but the latest high-end offering is from National Geographic, presenting a 10-day road trip that takes in much of the country. While missing out on the delights of the south east, the tour takes in the following locations, and thus with any luck will help expand tourism outside the usual hotspots and inspire visitors to spend more than the usual one or two days in the country:
Day 1: Ljubljana – Paddleboarding, the Old Town, fresh water and the Castle
Day 2: Alpine Slovenia – Bovec and Hiša Franko
Day 3: Maribor – Lent and the Old Vine House
Day 4: Logar Valley and Rinka Falls
Day 5: Pannonian Slovenia – Podčetrtek and thermal spas
Source: Google Maps screenshot
Day 6: Lendava and the Vinarium Tower
Day 7: The black waters of Moravske Toplice
Day 8: Portorož and Piran
Day 9: Škocjan Caves
Day 10: The saltpans of Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and some time at the Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida
The story was produced as part of National Geographic’s series of partner content with the aid of the Slovenian Tourist Board, and you can find more of those stories here, along with some of the great pictures the publication is famous for, here. If they work as intended then they should help expand tourism outside the usual hotspots and inspire visitors to spend more than the usual one or two days in the country.
New figures from SURS show that both arrivals and overnight stays rose by around 8% year-on-year in August, with more than one million of the former and 2.9 million of the latter. Foreign tourists accounted for 78% of all overnight stays, with the largest group coming from Germany (16% of all overnight stays, or just under 365,000), followed by visitors from Italy (13%), the Netherlands (9%), France (6%) and the Czech Republic (just under 6%).
The top attractions, in terms of nights stayed, were mountain resorts (37% of the total, or 1,074,552), followed by coastal resorts (21%), health/spa resorts (16%), and the city of Ljubljana (11%).
When choosing where to spend the night 33% of such stays, over 956,000, were in hotels, followed by private rooms, apartments and so on at 25%, and camping sites at 22%.
So far this year, up to the end of August, 11.8 million overnight stays have been recorded in Slovenia, on the back of 4.5 million arrivals, up 4% and 6%, respectively, on the first eight months of 2018.
More detailed data on tourist arrivals and overnight stays can be found on SURS
STA, 16 October 2019 - Foreign tourists who visited Slovenia in April and May spent an average EUR 178 a day in the country, with tourists from non-European countries spending more, EUR 264, the latest statistics released on Wednesday show.
The sum was spent on accommodation, food and drinks, fare around Slovenia, leisure and the purchase of other goods or services, the Statistics Office (SURS) said.
In Slovenia's capital Ljubljana, the sum was the highest, amounting to EUR 249, whereas tourists visiting municipalities in mountainous areas spent the least, EUR 129.
An average Austrian tourist spent EUR 135 a day in Slovenia, an Italian spent EUR 126 and a German tourist EUR 124.
Hotels proved to be the most popular choice for tourists in the spring, with four in five foreign tourists choosing them as their accommodation.
As many as 80% of the tourists who were accommodated at hotels were in Slovenia on a private visit and 18% on a business trip.
Three quarters of those who visited for private reasons were in Slovenia on a holiday, whereas the share of those who were here on business was the highest in Ljubljana, at 30%.
The majority of tourists book accommodation on their own; in April and May 31% of foreign tourists did so directly at the hotel of their choice, 26% used online options and 25% had the help of a travel agent.
Of the foreign tourists accommodated at hotels, 45% visited Slovenia with a spouse or partner, 22% travelled on their own, 11% with their family and just as many with friends.
The majority of the tourists accommodated at hotels came from Italy (15%), followed by Austria (12%) and Germany (8%).
As many as 93% of Italian tourists and four in five Austrian and German tourists visited Slovenia for private reasons, SURS data also shows.
Central bank figures, released on Tuesday, meanwhile show that revenue from foreign tourists visiting Slovenia continued to grow in August.
It rose by 1.3% to EUR 398 million over August 2018 and totalled EUR 1.91 billion in the first eight months of the year, a rise of 3.2% year on year.
In 2018, the country's revenue from foreign tourists reached EUR 2.71 billion, up almost 12%, while Slovenia's goal is EUR 3.7 to 4 billion until 2021.
More details on this data can be found here
Bike Slovenia Green is a project developed by the Slovenian government, EU and Visit GoodPlace – a sustainable travel agency. It presents a growing a series of one-day cycling loops, of touring level and with low technical difficulty, that allow people to see the diversity of the country at a slower and more relaxed pace. Only destinations that have obtained the Slovenia Green certificate are able to take part in this project, a status gained when a location meets certain standards with regard to sustainable development.
There are already 12 such tours available – seven of Ljubljana and its surroundings, and others of Goriška Brda (focusing on winemaking), Cerkno (green nature), the Vipava Valley (castles), Komen – the Karst (stone, wine and pršut / prosciutto), and Bohinj (the Julian Alps). At the start of November, these will be joined by a new long-distance, multi-stage itinerary that connects seven locations, with the route taking riders from the mountains of Kranjska gora to Koper on the Adriatic coast, with a break in the middle for a train ride, as seen in the map below.
We can’t currently embed the map – sharing hasn’t been enabled – but you can visit it here
Done in five legs, from Kranjska Gora to Bled, Bled to Bohinj, Bohinj to Kanal ob Soči (by train), Kanal to Šmartno (with its wine), Šmartno to Lipica (with its horses), and then Lipica to Koper by the sea.
If they are the same as the current tours, then they can be done guided or self-guided, with €14 for the latter getting you a navigation pack with GPS tracking. More details can be found here – although note that the new tours do no launch until 1 November 2019.
STA, 26 September 2019 - The Slovenian tourism sector is scrambling to find alternatives after Adria Airways suspended operations, leading to hundreds of immediate cancellations and raising the prospect of significant long-term damage.
A meeting was held in Ljubljana Wednesday featuring hoteliers, shuttle operators, major convention venues, the Slovenian Tourist Board and the Economy Ministry.
"The goal was to find solutions in the given situation, with drastically reduced air access putting guest arrivals at risk and jeopardising even finalised business events," said Visit Ljubljana, the capital's tourism office.
Media reports suggest there have been dozens of cancellations daily in Ljubljana hotels since Adria grounded its flights on Tuesday.
Foreign guests account for over 95% of all hotel nights in Ljubljana, with roughly two-thirds coming to the city by air, according to Visit Ljubljana figures.
While many do come through airports in neighbouring countries, Ljubljana is the main entry point and Adria accounted for about half of all passengers there.
Ljubljana is also a major convention tourism destination and the lack of direct air links could hurt the sector. "In the first half of 2020 alone this could have a negative impact on three major international conventions with over a thousand participants each," Visit Ljubljana said.
Adria's woes could prove to be a boon for nearby airports in neighbouring countries, which expect passenger numbers to rise.
Zagreb Airport told the STA it expected the number of business guests to increase, while Trieste Airport said it had seen an uptick in the number of guests flying to Munich and Frankfurt.
Munich and Frankfurt were two of the most lucrative destinations for Adria.
Adria's grounding left roughly 3,700 passengers stranded on Tuesday and Wednesday, when 158 flights were cancelled.
Today and tomorrow almost 200 flights have been cancelled, affecting about 10,000 passengers.
All out stories in Adria are here
STA, 4 September 2019 - Slovenia is up five spots in the latest biannual global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, standing at 36th place among the 140 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek commented on the improvement by saying that Slovenia was on the right track in the field of tourism.
In the 2019 survey, Slovenia scored an average of 4.3 out of seven points based on assessments in 14 elements of competitiveness in four key categories - enabling environment, tourism policy and enabling conditions, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources; two years ago, it placed 41st among 136 countries, down two spots from the 2015 survey, scoring an average of 4.18 points.
Slovenia fared the best in environmental sustainability, placing 8th, while standing in 15th place in terms of security. In infrastructure of road and maritime transport, the country is 20th, in natural resources in 26th, in tourism infrastructure in 27th and in importance of tourism in 33rd place.
In the field of tourism policy and the state of conditions for development, Slovenia placed 18th, which the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) mostly attributes to the growth in importance of tourism.
Minister Počivalšek said as he commented on the report, released on Monday, that it proved Slovenia was on the right track. "We have an adequate strategy, good tourist services and rich natural and cultural heritage, which facilitates a successful sustainable development of tourism," he was quoted as saying by the STO.
The minister is the most proud of the report noting that Slovenia "remains the most competitive economy in the subregion".
Spain, France and Germany remain on the top of the travel and tourism competitiveness rankings, followed by Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.
The full report can be found here
The luxury travel advisors Virtuoso, “the leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel”, has given out 18 awards to destination, cruise and lifestyle partners who it sees as offering outstanding products and services, as well as excellent collaboration with its members, in the areas of boutique and top quality tourism.
The winners cover the world, from the US to Oceania, with the Slovenian Tourist Board (Slovenske turistične organizacije - STO) picking up an award for Hottest Destination of the Year. STO was also nominated for the title of Tourism Board of the Year, which it lost to Switzerland.
The awards were given out as part of Virtuoso Travel Week, which takes place in Las Vegas between 10 and 16 August, and provides a venue for more than 6,000 tourism professionals to meet, make connections and do business, with the STO scheduled to have more than 230 meetings at the event.
Great news from Las Vegas and #VirtuosoTravel Week @Virtuoso— Slovenia Tourism (@tourism_slo) August 12, 2019
?#Slovenia (Slovenian Tourist Board) has been recognized as the Hottest Destination of the Year?#ifeelslovenia #award #tourism #sloveniantouristboard pic.twitter.com/uwaDi1i3SU
All our travel and tourism stories are here
STA, 31 July 2019 - Slovenian tourism continued to boom in the first half of the year. Arrivals were up by over 6% compared to the same period last year to 2.6 million, with accommodation facilities recording 6.3 million nights, an increase of 10%, fresh statistics show.
While domestic arrivals increased just 3% to 733,000, foreign arrivals increased by almost 8% to 1.8 million, mostly due to increases in arrivals from the most important source countries.
There was a 13.5% increase in the number of guests from Germany, with arrivals from Austria and Italy rising by almost 6% and 3%, respectively, the Statistics Office said on Wednesday.
The picture for nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments is similar: foreigners spent 4.3 million nights in Slovenia, a rise of over 6%, while nights by domestic visitors were roughly flat at just over two million.
Among the largest source countries, the biggest increases were recorded for guests from Germany, Austria and Italy.
More details on this data can be found here