Slovenia lures airliners to Ljubljana in bid to boost country's popularity

In a bid to boost Slovenia's popularity as a tourist destination, the country has launched a big new advertising campaign. Slovenia is small - just 2 million inhabitants, but it has some pretty big attractions: from mountains, lakes and caves to the sea. But one major obstacle for tourists who can't get there by car is getting there by plane. And that is why flights to Slovenia are on the increase.

In line with plans to increase the number of visitors to Slovenia, one objective is to increase the presence of foreign airlines in Slovenia, and this is why Turkish Airlines has launched scheduled flights to Slovenia's main airport. The carrier's first plane landed this week as part of a regular Ljubljana - Istanbul route. Slovenia's main airport already offers regular flight routes to 24 destinations. For the last three years, there has also been a rise in the number of charter carriers which mainly take customers to holiday destinations.

In the future Ljubljana Airport expects even more foreign carriers to attract more visitors to Slovenia's tourist destinations. Low-budget carrier EasyJet has been successful in Slovenia, offering flights to London and Berlin as Mr. Phillippe Vignon the regional marketing director told us:

"We have realized that the success of EasyJet in Ljubljana was amazing, we've seen that the tourism into Ljubljana has increased a lot, what we have seen is that with the internet penetration in Slovenia, which is very high compared to other central or eastern European cities, we've seen that the Slovenian population has integrated the EasyJet module very quickly and that is very fruitful and very positive for us."

The number of tourist who decide to come to Slovenia's ski resorts by plane has increased, and asked about EasyJets future plans for Slovenia, Mr. Vignon answered:

"We could well imagine you know, considering that Slovenia is becoming more and more fashionable, or just to give you an example we see more and more passengers flying into Slovenia to get to ski resorts instead of flying to Geneva and the Swiss and French resorts, we could well imagine that maybe in the future sooner or later to establish other routes from other points we already operate from, basically. Why not operate from cities like Paris or other major cities we already operate from but I can't unfortunately formalize any future route which we are going to launch at this stage."

However, there are limits to the number of routes to and from Slovenia, as it is a small country compared to other destinations, and as Mr. Vigno, said that is why maybe the natural potential to attract passengers to Ljubljana is lower, and this is why airlines have to evaluate carefully which routes to open.