STA, 16 May 2020 - As practically all business meetings and conferences planned for the first half of the year have been cancelled, the meetings industry, one of the key sectors of Slovenian tourism, does not expect to recover from coronavirus anytime soon. First events are planned to be held again this autumn.
"The meetings industry is faced with a very hard situation because this year's events were arranged several years ago. Some have been rescheduled to this autumn or next year, but many are lost for good," Slovenian Convention Bureau director Miha Kovačič has told the STA.
Business meetings and events are one of the three primary products of Slovenian tourism, he explained.
"They take place practically across entire Slovenia, the majority of them in Ljubljana. In the Slovenian capital, they are the most important product."
Their scope is smaller than classic tourism but business guests spend much more and business events largely take place outside the main summer season, he said.
Since such events are planned long in advance, they are not expected to resume as soon as lockdown measures affecting airports and borders are lifted.
Domestic companies, organisations and state institutions are major organisers of such events, and provided that conference centres, hotels and similar venues reopen, they are expected to return to business the first.
But international events are more lucrative as they also bring revenue from accommodation, are larger and involve more organisers. "These will return later."
Much will also depend on protective measures that will have to be observed, so Kovačič hopes the wearing of face masks indoor will soon no longer be required.
He however expects more online meetings, although it is already clear that they cannot replace live meetings.
Kovačič believes that "live events will have to become even better and with more added value to convince participants to attend".
Ljubljana and Bled, two major venues for the meetings industry in the country, are happy the majority of planned events have not been cancelled but rescheduled.
Turizem Ljubljana, the capital city's tourism board, told the STA that delegates of international conferences and other business meetings are the most desires visitors.
They spend three times more than an average leisure tourist; such a visitor spent an average 1,450 euro during a three-day stay in Ljubljana.
Some 20 international events for professionals with 100 to 1,500 participants scheduled for the first half of 2020 have been rescheduled to autumn or to 2021 and 2022.
The situation is similar in the lake-side resort of Bled in the north-west, where participants of such events account for 10-15% of all tourist nights.
Turizem Bled, the local tourism board, expects this segment of tourist to pick up fastest, as was the case after the 2008 financial crisis.