2020 marks a decline in arrivals and overnight stay – for the first time after 2009

Published: 1.2.2021

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2020 marks a decline in arrivals and overnight stay – for the first time after 2009

In 2020, Slovenia recorded 51% fewer arrivals and more than 42 % fewer overnight stays. Drastic decline in the number of foreign guests was partially offset by the growth of domestic tourists (+21% arrivals and +33% overnight stays compared to 2019).

2020 marks a decline in arrivals and overnight stay – for the first time after 2009

Due to the pandemic, tourism in Slovenia is facing the worst crisis in history. The recovery of Slovenian tourism will be long-lasting, the number of overnight stays from 2019 could be reached in 2023 or later. Immediately after the crisis outbreak, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) adapted the work plan for 2021. This year, Slovenia holds the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 title, within which more than 40 projects will be carried out.

The pandemic has plunged tourism into the worst crisis to date, affecting a drastic drop in global and European tourism. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates a 74 % drop in international arrivals in 2020, which globally represents a loss of as much as 1 billion international tourist arrivals. They furthermore believe that between 100 and 120 million jobs are at risk in tourism and that the spread of the coronavirus for the global economy represents ten times greater shock than the financial crisis of 2008/2009. Consequently, world tourism, they estimate, has returned to the level of 30 years ago. The UNWTO expects that the 2019 numbers will be reached by 2023 or 2024. 

Slovenia is among the countries that strongly feel the impact of the pandemic on tourism. Tourism makes a significant contribution to Slovenia's GDP (9.9 % of GDP), as it employs 6.5 % of the working population and largely depends on international tourists. In addition, it also has a large multiplier effect on other activities.

2020: The first year after 2009 when tourist arrivals and overnight stays have declined

Though already the first wave of the corona crisis had stopped tourist flows for three months, the second wave completely paralyzed tourism in Slovenia. As a result, Slovenia recorded 51 % fewer arrivals in 2020 and more than 42 % fewer overnight stays. The number of foreign tourists decreased by as much as 74 %, and overnight stays by 71 %. The large decline in the number of foreign guests was partially compensated by the growth of domestic tourists, who generated as much as 21 % more tourist arrivals and 33 % more tourist overnight stays than in 2019. Consequentelly, domestic guests generated as much as 60 % of all arrivals and 64 % of all tourist overnight stays in 2020 (in 2019, the share of overnight stays was 28 %).

Both in terms of arrivals and overnight stays, Germany ranks first among foreign markets. The second place takes Italy in terms of the number of guests, and Austria in terms of the number of overnight stays. Croatia is in the fourth place in terms of arrivals and overnight stays, followed by Hungary and the Netherlands. The Czech Republic, Serbia, France and Bosnia and Herzegovina are among the top ten countries in terms of arrivals and overnight stays.

Among municipalities, mountainous municipalities take the largest share when it comes to the number of overnight stays (31%), followed by coastal municipalities (24 %) and spa municipalities (24%). In the summer season, a high demand for overnight stays on tourist farms, in glamping resorts and boutique types of accommodation was recorded, mostly thanks to the government-issued vouchers, which additionally encouraged domestic guests to spend their holidays in Slovenia.

In the period between January and November, the value of travel exports amounted to 1 billion EUR, which is 60% less compared to the same period last year.

In 2020, Slovenian tourism recorded the first decline in arrivals and overnight stays after 2009, with the current numbers of tourist traffic being at the same level as ten years ago. With a 74% drop in foreign tourist arrivals compared to 2019, Slovenia ranks among the more affected European countries. 2020 will go down in history as one of the most difficult years for Slovenian tourism, marked by restrictions on travel and the closure of tourist facilities. 

It is expected that the recovery of Slovenian tourism will be long-lasting. The impact on tourist demand will be conditioned by the epidemiological situation, travel restrictions, transport connectivity and accessibility, and in particular by changed travel habits. The European Travel Commission (ETC) forecasts 61 % growth in tourist arrivals worldwide this year and 59 % growth in tourist arrivals in Europe.

The pandemic affected destinations and various stakeholders in Slovenian tourism very differently and unevenly. Among those most affected by the crisis are travel agencies and tour operators, tour guides, the MICE segment, city hotels, air and bus carriers, catering providers, attractions, culture and active holiday providers. The government, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (MGRT) along with other ministries took several measures to facilitate survival in times of crisis and ensure faster recovery. Also the STB adapted the activities and submitted numerous  tenders to improve the situation.

State Secretary Simon Zajc pinpointed that the key to recovery is to help tourism and hospitality survive the epidemic. “Last year, we managed to kick off domestic tourism with tourist vouchers, at least partially, and thus helped mitigate the consequences of the tourist ecosystem closure. However, given that Slovenian market is extremely dependent on the foreign guests, we will only be able to talk about a real recovery when international traffic is restarted and restrictive measures are released. In order to get to this point as soon as possible, it is necessary to look for solutions at the global level, especially by providing controls for a safe transition between countries. Until then, however, we need to help save the jobs in the tourism sector.”

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