This year’s World Travel Market London is a virtual event taking place between 9 and 11 November. The central focus of Slovenia’s presentation at the virtual exhibition site is its showcasing as a sustainable destination of excellent gastronomic and outdoor experiences. The press conference, virtually hosting more than 110 representatives of the British and global media, influencers and bloggers has just ended.
The 41st leading global travel trade show, World Travel Market, should have taken place at ExCeL London this year, but has instead been implemented virtually due to the current situation, with the central topic and under the slogan, Recover. Rebuild. Innovate. Despite this virtual edition, the trade show remains important as it is a leading global event for the travel industry that provides a unique opportunity for meetings, networking, negotiating and concluding business deals in one place. The virtual implementation of the event provides the participants with an opportunity to deepen existing business contacts and establish new ones.
Simon Zajc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology: “Slovenian tourism is a regular participant at the WTM London, one of the most important events of the global tourism industry. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s event is a virtual one for the first time in history. Thanks to modern technologies, travel trade representatives from across the globe can exchange their experiences, opinions, and plans for the recovery of international tourism. At this year’s event, Slovenia’s presentation focuses on the country as an attractive and sustainable tourism destination, which has introduced high standards of hygiene at all levels of its tourism offer. Furthermore, it is being presented as a destination with exquisite cuisine and 5-star experiences. Tourism is one of the most important branches of the Slovenian economy, whose effects comprise a significant 10 percent share of gross domestic product. Last year was a record year for the Slovenian tourism sector. We recorded more than 6.2 million arrivals and more than 15.7 million overnight stays. The share of foreign overnight stays represented an incredible 72% of all overnight stays,” he emphasised, adding: “The Slovenian government quickly reacted to the coronavirus epidemic and very early on adopted vital measures to help the Slovenian economy and the tourism industry. Since the crisis broke out, five packages of measures have been adopted at the national level. We are in the process of adopting the sixth package, which will include measures aimed at providing assistance to the stakeholders most affected by the pandemic. We believe that the implemented measures will help numerous companies to continue their operations and preserve jobs.”
As of Monday, the representatives of the interested global business and tourist public have been meeting the representatives of Slovenian tourism at pre-scheduled meetings in the virtual environment. These online meetings have replaced networking and concluding of business deals during the current period when meetings in person are not advisable, and thus help to maintain the Slovenian tourism sector’s contacts with its key business partners in the British and global markets.
Mag. Maja Pak, Managing Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) emphasised: “The year 2020 has been marked by the cancellation of numerous live tourism exhibitions and trade shows, including the global WTM London. In light of the major importance of the London trade show for the setting up of new and the strengthening of existing relationships with the international travel trade, the Slovenian tourism, under the aegis of the STB, was present at this year’s virtual trade show. During the three days of the show, more than 300 prescheduled meetings between Slovenian tourism providers and international travel agents and travel organisers were implemented. These meetings show a major interest in Slovenia expressed by European travel organisers. Due to the limitations imposed on the tourism industry by the epidemic, the demand for unique tourism programmes and unique experiences of close-by European countries is growing, as travel organisers use them to replace overseas destinations. Our presence at the WTM Virtual significantly contributes to keeping the attention of the media and the professional public on Slovenia as a sustainable destination for unique, culinary, and active experiences. Visible representatives of the travel industry place major importance on the connection between governmental measures and sustainable actions, which the Slovenian tourism has been developing for years and which has become our major competitive advantage. We have just met with the representatives of British and global media who are enthralled with Slovenia as a sustainable country for active and culinary experiences, especially in relation to Slovenia as the 2021 European Region of Gastronomy and a new Michelin destination.”
Slovenia – destination for excellent active and gastronomic experiences
Slovenia was showcased at WTM London as a sustainability-oriented destination for genuine active and gastronomic experiences with a special emphasis on sustainable gastronomy.
At the press conference taking place this afternoon, the representatives of global media, esteemed guests and influencers learned about Slovenia as the holder of the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 title, and as a destination that was allocated seven stars and several sustainability awards by Michelin as early as the first year of its presence in the country. A special emphasis was also placed on the presentation of the development and the offer of sustainable gastronomy in Slovenia.
Slovenia as the holder of the prestigious title of the European Region of Gastronomy 2021, the new Michelin destination and its gastronomy development committed to sustainability and based on the remarkable natural assets of our country, and the efforts of passionate people was presented by: MSc Maja Pak, Dr Diane Dodd, Ana Roš, Bine Volčič, and Irena Fonda.
The media representatives were extremely excited about the presentation of Slovenian sustainable gastronomy, a development arising from the knowledge, innovation and dedication of top chefs.
Dr Diane Dodd, President of IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) and co-founder of the expert committee for the European Region of Gastronomy (ERG), spoke at the press conference of the reasons that convinced the committee to award Slovenia the European Region of Gastronomy 2021 title: “There are six central areas of focus in the European region of gastronomy, and visiting Slovenia, an ERG candidate at the time, the committee was especially impressed with the urban and rural environment. Slovenia is an interesting country as the Farm to Fork strategy, which other European states are striving to re-implement, is still a way of life here, I believe that the rest of Europe has much to learn from Slovenia when it comes to short food supply chains. We cannot have excellent food without local, fresh, and ecologically grown produce. Numerous restaurants in Slovenia have their own gardens or local suppliers, which means that the guest always knows that the food is fresh and of a high quality.”
Chef Ana Roš, holder of two Michelin stars and recipient of the Sustainability Award, stressed the major importance of local suppliers and farmers, emphasising that restaurants were not the only segment affected during these difficult times of the epidemic, as the same applies to the entire food supply chain. It is for this reason that she sets up auctions for products by local suppliers, thus helping all in the food supply chain. She added: “It is hard to imagine an even more difficult situation, but I believe that every cloud has a silver lining.”
In his Monstera bistro in Ljubljana, Bine Volčič, recipient of the Michelin Plate and the Sustainability Award, has been successfully connecting the urban and the rural environment in light of sustainability from the very beginning of the bistro dating back to 2016, and strives to search for new ways of cooking, minimising the carbon footprint. Chef Volčič emphasises: “We use only fresh seasonal ingredients, as we are lucky enough to be located close to the central farmer’s market in Ljubljana where we get the majority of the local ingredients. We cooperate with chosen producers and suppliers in the preparation of our own preserved foods to be used when out of season. We also follow the zero-waste cuisine philosophy, using all edible parts of plants and animals. We try to set an example to other restaurants on how to make creative cuisine with a minimal effect on natural resources.”
Dr Irena Fonda, Managing Director of the Fonda fish farm, which is famous for breeding the Fonda Piran sea bass of the highest quality, emphasised: “A visit to our fish farm is a unique and authentic experience, accompanied by getting to know the sea with an emphasis on sustainability and business in harmony with nature.” Dr Fonda emphasised the care for a high-quality product, which is based on ensuring raw materials of the highest quality and a careful approach to breeding the Fonda Piran sea bass with a mark of origin and a guarantee of quality: “The recognisable mark, which we introduced as a novelty in the Slovenian market, offers seafood enthusiasts complete traceability of our fish at points of sale. This provides our customers with the guarantees that they have before them a product of superior quality, a fresh fish that was bred in a healthy environment and in compliance with the highest standards.” In addition to its main activity, the Fonda fish farm offers a special tourist experience, A Day at the Fonda Fish Farm, bearing the Slovenian Unique Experiences label, which denotes unique 5-star experiences in Slovenia.
Thirteen Slovenian tourist providers and destinations at WTM 2020
Thirteen Slovenian tourist providers and destinations are being showcased to tourism experts and media from around the world at the Slovenian virtual exhibition site from Monday, 9 November to today, 11 November, under the auspices of the Slovenian Tourist Board: Amazon of Europe Bike Trail (Zavod Iskriva), Bohinj ECO Hotel/Sunrose 7 & Hotel Jezero, Happy Tours, HIT Alpinea, the Julian Alps, the Lipica Stud Farm, Kompas d.d., M Tours Bled, Palma Travel DMC, Postojnska jama/Hotel Jama/Hotel Vila Planinka, Sava Turizem, Terme Čatež and Turizem Ljubljana.
A diverse accompanying educational programme
This travel trade show is also important due to its annual diverse accompanying educational programme, which took place in a virtual form this year. WTM further discusses topical trends and challenges in tourism; this time, in the light of the issues brought about by the coronacrisis that has affected all tourist destinations.