At the invitation of ABTA, the team of the SPIRIT Slovenia Tourism Division, the Representative Office of Slovenian tourism in London and Tourism Ljubljana attended the Travel Convention 2013, which took place between 20 and 22 October in Dubrovnik. On completion of the event, Slovenia and Ljubljana were announced and presented as the hosts of the next convention. The news was greeted very positively, and many of the attendees have already expressed their intention to come.
Next year Slovenia, or more specifically Ljubljana, will thus host the Travel Convention 2014, which is the annual gathering of UK’s largest travel trade association, ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents). The convention is ABTA’s core event, focusing on education and business networking, and is one of the largest events in the British tourism industry in general. It takes place at a different tourist destination every year and is attended by 500 to 1,200 executives from the British tourism sector, aviation, marine and other tourism-associated industries.
The first initiative related to the project of bringing the convention to Slovenia was launched last year through the Representative Office of Slovenian Tourism in London, while the official application procedure began in the spring of 2013. ABTA’s chief executive and the head of the convention visited Slovenia, that is to say Portorož and Ljubljana as the possible venues, twice.
Despite being unlike the seaside locations where the convention is typically held, Ljubljana was chosen in the end for its all-round attractiveness and the professionally prepared application, which will undoubtedly strengthen its position as a city-break destination on the British market.
Before and during the convention, the destination will be visited by 25 journalists from Britain’s leading specialised and general tourism media. The conference will be organised in partnership with the SPIRIT Slovenia agency (Tourism Division) and Ljubljana Tourism. The main venue of the conference will be the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Great Britain is the second largest outbound market in Europe, right behind Germany, and it plays an important role for Slovenian tourism as well – in 2012 the British market ranked seventh in terms of overnight stays in Slovenia. Between January and September inclusive, the number of British visitors and the overnight stays they generated increased by 9.5% as compared to the same period last year. Being dependant on flight connections between the two countries, the trend of tourist arrivals and overnight stays from the British market has fluctuated in recent years.
The ABTA 2014 convention will have a positive impact on the commercial success of the additional flights between Great Britain and Slovenia that have been announced for next spring by the Slovenian national air carrier Adria Airways. From May to September Adria Airways will fly twice weekly between Ljubljana and Gatwick and Manchester airports respectively.