Slovenia - tourism takes an upturn


It's high summer and high tourist season in Central Europe and in the first five months of this year Slovenia's capital has broken new records for visitors. The rest of the country is also experiencing something of a boom

The latest figures from the Ljubljana Tourist Board show 12% more tourists in the first half of 2007 compared to the same period last year. An upward trend has been observed in the numbers of both domestic and foreign visitors and this trend has been present for a decade now as Petra Stusek of the Ljubljana Tourist Board explains:

"We are actually breaking records in tourist visits every year since 1997 with no exception this year in the first six months in Ljubljana over 275.000 overnight stays were realized which means 14.6 % more compared to the first six months last year."

So does this mean that Slovenia is finally on the map? It is hard to tell but the Ljubljana Tourist Board is optimistic. Slovenia will be internationally exposed in the first half of 2008 when it will take over the Presidency of the European Union and Petra Stusek of the Ljubljana Tourist Board is well aware of the fact that Slovenia's recognition in the world and the country's success as a tourist destination very much depends on activities promoting Slovenia. Petra Stusek:

"The reason why this is so probably lies in a combination of different activities we prepare on foreign markets throughout the past for years and it also includes a lot of foreign journalist visits, which means we are getting more known also through foreign media."

She adds that also low cost carriers landing at airports in Slovenia's capital Ljubljana as well as in Maribor play an important role in the growth of number of tourists visiting Slovenia:

"And of course it will also help a lot the arrival of more low cost carriers, which are coming to Slovenia and Ljubljana and it means that we are getting more known also through them as a destination."

Among those happy with tourism results are Ljubljana's hotels. During the first five months of this year overnight stays increased 11 percent in comparison to the same period last year. A great role in the growing number of visitors to Ljubljana is also being played by convention tourism. According to the latest statistics released by the International Congress and Convention Association and the Slovenian Convention Bureau, Ljubljana ranks among the world's top 50 cities in terms of the number of congress and convention events with a minimum of 50 participants. The people working for Ljubljana's Tourist Board know that in view of the facts that Ljubljana is easily accessible from all parts of Slovenia and is not a holiday resort, it is particularly important that it should be attracting events for clients from abroad in order to generate overnight stays.

But more and more tourists from abroad are also visiting Slovenia's second largest city Maribor, especially now that one of the low cost airliners started the route London-Maribor in June this year.

And what do tourists think about Slovenia? Well some are surprised as soon as they enter the country as this woman told Insight Central Europe:

"We've driven from Britain and so we came through Italy and straight into Slovenia and as soon as we crossed the border, border patrol people they stopped us and gave us some tourist maps and they were really nice and we have a lovely time in Slovenia."

Other tourists like the landscape and the people:

"I like the people and I like the architecture, small houses and gardens around the houses they are the most beautiful."

In the first half of 2008 Slovenia will host many visitors from abroad among them many high ranking visitors. When statistics appear for 2009 it will be clear whether Slovenia is on the map or not.