Slovenian Tourist Businesses Reopen, Expect Focus to Be Domestic Visitors, Call for More Aid

By , 18 May 2020, 18:30 PM Travel
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STA, 18 May 2020 - Tourism companies can largely resume doing business from today, and travel seems to be in demand again, although agritourism providers, campsites and beaches are still relatively empty. A path to recovery is expected to be long after a two-month lockdown, so the hospitality chamber has urged the government to extend state aid measures.

The Slovenian Hospitality Chamber (TGZS) called on the government on Monday to extend until the end of the year the measures designed to help tourism cope with the coronavirus epidemic.

It said there had been indications the subsidies for idled workers would be extended only by a month, or by the end of June, which would push the industry into a dire situation.

"Under this scenario, the companies will not be able to survive, so massive layoffs will follow in tourism on 1 July," the chamber said in a release.

If the measures applying to idled tourism workers are not prolonged until the end of 2020, some 20,000 workers will lose jobs, according to the chamber's estimate.

The TGZS meanwhile welcomed the planned EUR 200 vouchers for adult Slovenian citizens to be spent on a vacation in Slovenia, which it believes would help the industry start what is expected to be a years-long recovery.

Operators of campsites and beaches on the Slovenian coast are meanwhile largely ready to accept guests although the swimming season has not yet started.

The main beach in Portorož is to open on 15 June, or as early as 1 June if the weather is fine, Okolje Piran direktor Gašpar Gašpar Mišič told the STA.

The Strunjan Camping Site does not yet have any guests, and cannot predict how the situation develops in the coming weeks, although potential guests are already making enquires.

The situation is similar in agritourism, which can also start welcoming tourists as of today, but the majority of farms offering such activities will relaunch their business in June.

The Češnjice Tourist Farm in Cerklje na Gorenjskem, NW, told the STA they had no guests nor queries, while the first tourists will arrive at the Urška Tourist Farm near Zreče,E, on Thursday.

"We get lots of queries by e-mail and mobile phone, Germans are also interested in when we're opening," said the farm owner Urška Topolšek.

The pandemic has also hit hard tourist guides, most of whom are self-employed and largely depend on tourists from abroad.

Just like the rest of the tourism industry, they are now trying to attract Slovenian tourists, the Argos Regional Association of Tourist Guides said in a release.

Argos has thus joined the My Slovenia campaign launched by the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) to encourage Slovenians to spend their holidays in Slovenia.

"The borders are slowly opening, but we share the view that this season, domestic guests will be in the focus. Which is right," said its president Mateja Kregar Gliha.

Skiing was relaunched at Kanin, Slovenia's only high-altitude ski slopes, where Slovenian professional skier Ilka Štuhec relaunched her training today.

"It's great to ski in Slovenia in May," said Štuhec, whom the pandemic has deprived of several weeks of training for the new ski season.

Slovenian travel agencies have however not yet opened their doors, but are providing information to potential clients online or over the phone.

There are still many uncertainties about the border crossing regime, protocols about bus and air travel, and about the reopening of hotels in Slovenia and abroad, Jože Režonja, Relax Turizem director, told the STA.

"We expect everything will be clear by 31 May at the latest, in which case we will open our offices on 1 June."

If things clear up earlier, the offices will open sooner. "We're ready," he said, adding that some 80% of their employees are on furlough.

Similarly, travel company Palma provides information to its potential clients over the phone and plans to open its offices on 1 June, said sales director Leni Petek Rovšnik.

She said people were eager to start travelling again, so she is quite optimistic that business could soon be revived.

The only tourism facilities that could not yet open today are accommodation facilities with over 30 rooms, accommodation for spa guests, wellness and fitness centres, pools and water parks.

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