STA, 8 December 2020 - Slovenian tourism is preparing for long-term recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. The recovery plan will span until the end of 2023, with tourism resilience being strengthened for years to come, the central annual event in the sector heard. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek thinks that the sector will return to record-breaking results.
This year's virtual Days of Slovenian Tourism revolves around response efforts in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Počivalšek noted at Tuesday's event that the number of tourists in Slovenia in the first ten months of 2020 dropped by 46% and the number of overnight stays by 37% compared to the same period in 2019.
When it comes to foreign tourists, the number of arrivals plunged by 72% and the number of overnight stays by 69%.
By the end of October, almost 6,000 tourism workers registered as unemployed at the Employment Service. Moreover, many are furloughed.
Počivalšek also pointed out that numerous tourism companies had pushed back investments due to the precarious situation.
"A longer recovery period is expected, perhaps even five years," he said, highlighting that tourism would need extensive support from the state and EU.
He vowed additional aid for the hospitality and tourism sectors and the meeting industry in the emerging seventh stimulus package.
Domestic tourism consumption will continue to be boosted by tourism vouchers, whose validity has been extended until the end of 2021, he said.
The way forward will be outlined in the 2020-2023 recovery plan. Shareholders are also coming up with projects to draw on EU funds.
Počivalšek expressed optimism regarding EU financial instruments designed to help the sector after the pandemic and said that depending on the epidemiological situation, Slovenia's partial lockdown could be eased by reopening facilities in the tourism and hospitality sectors among other things.
He believes that Slovenia's tourism will be again breaking records and bagging achievements.
Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) boss Maja Pak presented updated tourism forecasts for this year. The organisation is a bit less optimistic given the worsened epidemiological status at the end of the year as it was in late summer.
Until the end of 2020, the STO expects a 51% decrease in the number of tourists, including a 74% drop in the arrival of foreign tourists.
The number of overnight stays is expected to decrease by 42% on 2019. "This means that this year we will lose seven million overnight stays due to the pandemic," she said.
Next year is forecast to deliver similar figures. The STO anticipates a bit more foreign guests and somewhat fewer Slovenian tourists.
The number of tourists from abroad is expected to rise in years to follow, boosting tourism growth.
The recovery plan is based on several phases. The first-response phase is to be followed by the recovery phase, which is to last until the end of 2023.
The second phase will focus on the domestic market as well as neighbouring or nearby markets. Public calls as well as public health measures will be adjusted.
The third phase will focus on strengthening resilience, running until 2026. Restructuring and development of tourism infrastructure will be in focus.
Tourism will have to be at the heart of the national recovery and resilience plan, Pak said, adding that sustainable and digital development should be key.
She highlighted, among other things, re-establishment of air links, business tourism and investments as future challenges.
When tourism is relaunched, there will be many rivals, the STO boss noted, adding that Slovenia was at an advantage since it had been investing in sustainable or boutique tourism for years.
Andrej Prebil, the head of the Tourism and Hospitality Chamber (TGZS), meanwhile urged the government to draw up a separate stimulus package for tourism that would include all segments of the industry.
Additional funds for the STO are also necessary, he said, describing the organisation as the cornerstone of Slovenian tourism promotion.
Prebil believes at least EUR 10 million would be needed for recovery. Maintaining Slovenia's status as a green, active and safe country among foreign and domestic tourists is key, he added.