With its entry into the European Union, Slovenia is offered special positive opportunities. It will acquire more reputation through greater international exposure and the larger number of tourists attracted by easier border crossings, and in the medium term benefits from European structural resources as well. The Slovenian Tourist Board will take advantage of the opportunity of entering the European Union with a special marketing campaign to increase awareness of Slovenia as a tourist destination and generally upgrade its marketing of Slovene tourism upon entering the European Union. The ambition of the campaign is quite long-range as it is not limited to presenting Slovenia upon its entry into the European Union. This is also the right time for Slovenia to actively start gradually and systematically building the country’s trademark.
Slovene tourism is presented at numerous fairs abroad. In January, the Slovenian Tourist Board had a stall at fairs in Stuttgart, Utrecht, Vienna, Zurich, Dublin, and Linz and will be present in February in Salzburg, Munich, and Milan.
The Caravan, Moto und Touristik fair in Stuttgart from January 17 to 25, 2004, was particularly successful. At a press conference on January 17, 2004, the Slovenian Tourist Board presented Slovenia’s tourist offer for 2004, particularly the changes awaiting tourists after May 1 when Slovenia, the best-prepared new member, will become part of the European Union.
On Friday, January 16, 2004, cooperation in the field of tourism was discussed at a round table chaired by Slovenia’s Minister of Economy and the Vice-President of the government of the German state of Baden-W?berg. The latter invited his colleagues from all ten new members of the European Union to the round table. Darja Radi, National Under-Secretary for Tourism at the Ministry of Economy and Bojan Meden, the General Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, also participated at the round table.
Increased visits to Slovenia in 2003
2003 was a successful year for Slovene tourism. According to data from the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, Slovenia recorded a 4% increase of tourists in 2003 over the previous year. Altogether, 2,242,998 tourists visited Slovenia, of whom 1.3 million were foreign guests, five percent more than in 2002. Most of the foreign tourists were from Italy, more than 287,000 visits or 5% more than the year before. These were followed by the Germans, who remained at the level of 2002 with 229,000 visits, and the Austrians who increased their numbers by 4% with good 201,000 visits. Guests from Great Britain increased their visits exceptionally, numbering 9% higher than the previous year, while the Dutch figures rose by as much as 21%, and visits from France and Israel by even 25% in comparison with the previous year. There was a 2% increase in the number of overnight stays, the total reaching 7.5 million, more than 4.1 million of which were made by foreign guests, a 4% increase over 2002. Tourists from Germany spent the most nights in Slovenia, with 4% more overnight stays than in 2002, followed by guests from Italy, who increased their number of overnight stays by a good percent, guests from Austria who made 2% more overnight stays, Croatian guests by 3% more, guests from Great Britain by 4% more, Dutch guests by as much as 30% more, Hungarian guests by a good 13% more, and Russian guests with 9% more overnight stays compared with 2002.
Slovene health resorts also recorded a successful year. Altogether, there were 496,000 guests at our health resorts (3% increase). The number of foreign guests was 5.8% higher. Most of the guests came from Austria, (2% increase), followed by Italians (20% increase), Germans (2% decrease), Croats (2% increase), Russians (10% increase), and guests from other European countries, mostly from The Netherlands and Israel. Slovenia’s natural health resorts recorded 2.4 million overnight stays (1% increase). Of the Slovenia’s fifteen health resorts, as many as eleven successfully ranked in the category of tourist spots that exceeded the threshold of 100,000 overnight stays.
1,000th anniversary of Bled
Bled, a jewel of Slovenia’s tourism, this year celebrates the 1000th anniversary of first being mentioned in written sources. The enviable jubilee will be marked by a number of events in the spring and summer months. The peak of the festivities will occur between July 16 and 18 with Bled Days and the traditional Bled Night with fireworks and lights on the lake. Last year, Bled recorded 455,000 overnight stays (+4%) with some 94% of all overnight stays made by foreign guests. Most of the foreign guests came from Germany, followed by guests from Great Britain, The Netherlands, and Italy. There was also a significant increase in the number of guests from Israel, the consequence of charter connections between Tel Aviv and Ljubljana.
Carnival in Ptuj
One of the best attended Carnival events in Slovenia is the 11-day traditional Kurentovanje festival in Ptuj where typically Slovene carnival figures and masqueraders meet. This year, the festival will take place between February 14 and 24. The streets of the ancient city of Ptuj will be enlivened during the day by performing artists, street theaters, and musicians, and at night the party will continue in Carnival costumes. The culmination of the Kurentovanje festival will be on Sunday with the traditional international Carnival parade.
Accommodation facilities in Slovenia’s capital will be enhanced by the Mons Hotel and Congress Center, which open in September 2004, and a month of so later by the luxurious Domino Grand Media Hotel, also called the hotel of the future, next to the World Trade Center. A four-star hotel belonging to the large Italian hotel chain Domina Vacanze is being built by the Austrian company Alpha Bau management. It will be furnished with the most modern communications equipment, enabling its guests to communicate with the entire world through the Internet in their rooms. Lovers of gambling will find also a casino in the hotel.
At the end of March, the renovation of the five-star Grand Hotel Palace in Portoroz will be completed. In the renovated hotel, guests will have, along with many other modernizations, a first-class wellness offer at their disposal, which will upgrade the existing thermal spa program with a unique sauna complex.
In the fall, the construction of a five-star hotel will start at Maribor’s Terme 3000 natural health resort. The hotel, situated behind the Termal and Ajda hotels, will begin receiving its first guests in January 2006. It will have 287 beds, a conference center with the latest equipment, a wellness center, a golf course, and much more. The investment will total 3.6 billion SIT.
Youth tourism is experiencing the fastest growth in comparison with other forms of tourism in Slovenia. Among the total number of tourists last year, 20% were younger than 25. Ljubljana’s accommodation capacities have been wonderfully enhanced since last June by the unique Celica Youth Hostel, which is located in a renovated former military prison. Uniquely different not only because all the rooms were once prison cells but also because each room is a unique work of art created by a Slovene or foreign artist. The records show 11,000 overnight stays by the end of November 2003. Most of the individual travelers and smaller groups came from Great Britain and Ireland, and many young people also came from Australia, the United States, Italy, and the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Guests from Japan, Thailand, China, New Zealand, Island, Mexico, and elsewhere also slept in these artistically decorated rooms.