STA, 5 March 2020 - Several Slovenian travel agencies have seen a significant drop in business because of the new coronavirus. The agencies organising tourist trips in Slovenia are particularly affected, while those offering trips abroad are noticing a change of tourism flows.
The Ljubljana-based Atur Travel, which targets mainly tourists from Asia with its trips to south, eastern and central Europe, has recorded a major drop in the number of guests.
Almost all trips in March have been cancelled, as have 80% of those scheduled for April and May, CEO Anja Poženel Belec said, adding that most trips were being cancelled by their clients from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea.
"At the moment, bookings are being pushed to September and October, so we are expecting a big increase in autumn if the situation calms down until then. But the shortfall in the first six months will nevertheless show at the annual level."
Gorazd Skrt of Lovely Trips, which helps companies promote Slovenian tourism in Italy, says that Italian travel agencies are seeing a significant drop in bookings.
Many people who do not have symptoms are cancelling their trips so as to avoid transmission, while in Slovenia, people fear guests from Italy will bring the virus, he said.
The impact of the epidemic on tourism is difficult to assess at the moment, according to him. "If the situation improves in the coming weeks, we'll be able to make up for a part of cancellations and only record a drop of a few percent. But if the situation continues for months, arrivals of Italian guests could be magnitudes worse."
Plans for the Easter and 1 May holidays are also being affected. "We are recording cancellations of existing reservations. Those who have not made reservations yet, are afraid to make them," he said.
The problem is that even if the epidemic is stopped by then, there will not be enough time to organise group trips, Skrt explained.
"Tourism is an industry that is quickly affected by crises but also recovers quickly. At this point, two scenarios are possible - under the less negative one we'll be trying to offset the negative effects until the end of the year, while in the worst case scenario the season will be ruined."
Big travel agencies offering trips to other countries are not particularly affected. Palma has not seen a drop in demand or any major cancellations.
Kompas said the situation was changing on a day-to-day basis. Its tours of Italy do not make stops in the towns that are quarantined at the moment, so there have been no cancellations.
Rather than a drop in demand, they are noticing that people are opting for slightly different destinations.
GoOpti, a company providing shared and private transfers to airports and between towns, is seeing a 30-40% drop in the number of passengers, especially in Italy.
In the face of the negative effects of the virus on business, several associations, including the trade union of employees in the hospitality sector from the ZSSS trade union confederation, the Employers' Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), have called on the government to introduce measure to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus immediately.
They called for subsidies for shorter working time and financial aid for companies that have no financial reserves to fall back on.
The GZS said today that problems were expected to mount, so the government should follow the recommendations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD said on Monday flexible forms of work should be introduced to preserve jobs, while governments should adopt temporarily tax and budget measures to mitigate the effects of the virus in the most affected industries such as tourism, the automotive sector and electronics.
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