Slovenia at ITB Berlin: a safe destination for excellent active experiences in pristine nature

Published: 10.3.2022

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Slovenia at ITB Berlin: a safe destination for excellent active experiences in pristine nature

At this year's virtual edition of ITB Berlin, Slovenia is showcased as an excellent destination for active holidays and sports tourism based on sustainability and unique natural resources. Since active outdoor experiences and sports tourism are the umbrella communication themes for 2022-2023, this was also the red thread of today's press conference.

Slovenia at ITB Berlin: a safe destination for excellent active experiences in pristine nature

At the press conference, Simon Zajc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Ilona Stermecki, MSc., Acting director of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), Rebeka Kumer Bizjak, Director of the STB's Representative office in Germany, and Marko Lenarčič, expert associate of the Active Slovenia – Slovenia Outdoor Association, presented the trends in Slovenian tourism and the reasons why Slovenia ranks among the top recommended destinations for excellent active holidays. Outdoor experiences in pristine nature are also the central communication topic of the STB for 2022-2023. Franci Petek, head of the Nordic Center, also addressed the audience, inviting journalists to the 2023 Nordic World Championships in Planica. Additionally, the easing of covid restrictions and the developmental and promotional activities of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (MGRT) and the STB have been addressed. The journalists were also addressed by top Slovenian skier Ilka Štuhec.

Simon Zajc, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, emphasized: "The door to Slovenia is wide open for tourists and other visitors; RVT is no longer required to use most services. Although, some security restrictions and rules related to living in Slovenia still apply, such as wearing masks, hand disinfection, distancing and RVT conditions in healthcare facilities. The tourism ecosystem was clearly among the most affected economic branches during the covid-19 pandemics. The Slovenian government has quickly responded to this challenging situation and has adopted ten packages of measures to help the tourism industry and other companies. Moreover, it has allocated a total of one billion euros in aid to the hospitality and tourism sector. We estimate that the measures taken have preserved many jobs that are successful in the tourism industry and further business. In addition, the pandemics served as a magnifying glass for Slovene tourisms’ advantages, since secure, healthy, guest-oriented, and outdoor tourism has gained its popularity."

Ilona Stermecki, MSc., Acting director of the STB, highlighted key activities and topics that will inspire guests to visit Slovenia: “At the Slovenian Tourist Board, activities for 2022 focus on active experiences and sports tourism. In recent years, Slovenia has greatly strengthened its international visibility as one of the most competitive destinations for active holidays and international sports events. At the same time, this is one of the most important and the most promising tourist products of Slovenian tourism, which makes an important contribution to the deseasonalisation and diversification of tourist flows. We will continue to strengthen Slovenia's visibility by forming partnerships with top athletes and ambassadors of Slovenian tourism and by highlighting the I feel Slovenia brand at international sporting events in Slovenia. The same goes for the partnerships with global influential media and brands such as National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, Eurosport, Michelin, Gault & Millau, 50 Best Discovery, Google Arts & Culture and others, which have repeatedly highlighted Slovenia as safe, green, boutique and non-mass destination. This builds on the story of a green, active and healthy Slovenia and encourages the production of tourist products with higher added value. We are also working on upgrading the Green Scheme of Slovenian tourism and setting key milestones on Slovenia's path to one of the most digitally advanced tourist countries in Europe.”

Rebeka Kumer Bizjak, Director of the STB's Representative office in Germany, emphasized that the German market has remained the most important emitting market for Slovenian tourism even during the crisis: "In 2021, German tourists generated more than a million overnight stays, which represents a 22% share of foreign guests and ranks them first. Compared to 2020, the growth of overnight stays of German tourists was 32%. German guests also lead in the number of arrivals, where they represent a 23% share with 400,000 arrivals. According to the latest tourism analyses, trends in the German market are short-term reservations, reservations through travel agencies and tour operators, and online reservations for services. Sustainability is emphasized, both among tourists and the travel industry. Germany remains their number one travel destination, followed by the Mediterranean and Alpine destinations. There is an increasing demand for health and wellness products, caravanning and outdoor experiences. Travel by car is still on the rise. Overall, Slovenia has a great competitive advantage over many other destinations."

When it comes to marketing, communication and development activities connected with outdoor and sports tourism, which is among the six tourist products in the STB’s 2022-2023 work programme, the STB works closely with the Slovenian tourism industry and the Active Slovenia – Slovenia Outdoor Association. Matej Kandare, director of the Active Slovenia–Slovenia Outdoor Association drew attention to the fact that the whole Slovenia is an outdoor destination: “There is no place in Slovenia, which would not be suitable for at least some form of outdoor activity. Slovenia is developing four main pillars of outdoor products, which are hiking, cycling, winter activities and water activities with other adrenaline experiences such as paragliding and zip-line. We have natural resources for 365 days of activity, we are working on connecting the products and thus raising their quality and visibility. By enforcing the standards for outdoor destinations, guests will also find it easier and faster to find a suitable activity for themselves, which we believe will be one of the main reasons for visiting Slovenia in all seasons."

Slovenian top athletes, who rank among the best in the world, make an important contribution to creating a unique story of Slovenia as a green country, which encourages active and healthy experiences. Among the athletes who are also ambassadors of Slovenian tourism is also Ilka Štuhec, who explained how the country shapes world-class athletes: "Slovenia offers exceptional opportunities for professional and recreational sports activities. We have clean air, pristine nature, and at the same time quick access to various environments – the sea, mountains, valleys … When we travel around the world and compete, we realize that what we have at home is really valuable. For the second year in a row, I will be going on a week-long trip around Slovenia, and I can say that getting to know different parts of Slovenia is also exciting for Slovenians. And wherever I go, there are opportunities for me to spend my time actively. In addition to all this, I must highlight two other key issues - one is safety and the other is the friendliness of the locals and their hospitality. It is invaluable to be able to walk around the city without any worries, hang out with friends, visit different places without fear of anything happening to you."

For the second year in a row, I will be going on a week-long trip around Slovenia, and I can say that getting to know different parts of Slovenia is also exciting for Slovenians. (Ilka Štuhec)

With their success, athletes like Luka Dončić, Primož Roglič, Tadej Pogačar, Janja Garnbret and Ilka Štuhec attract the attention of the global media, professional and general public and put Slovenia into the spotlight as a non-mass destination with exceptional natural resources that enables great active holidays.

Slovenia: a green and digitally advanced destination for safe, active and healthy experiences

After the measures to curb the covid-19 pandemic have been eased, the STB has started intensifying and upgrading market communication and development activities in selected foreign and domestic markets. Together with the Slovenian tourism industry and key partners, the activities in the 2022-2023 work programme have been adapted to the changing and still uncertain conditions with the aim of increasing the resilience and success of tourism after the crisis. Projects and activities in the work programme follow the central, i.e. sustainable commitment of Slovenian tourism.

Although the focus remains on the domestic and nearby European markets, the STB – in line with the easing of measures, the intensification of tourist flows and the current situation – is strengthening its activities in other markets as well.

In line with the trends in non-mass and unique experiences and the potential of Slovenian tourism, the STB has identified six main tourism products: active outdoor experiences, sports tourism, business meetings and events, health and well-being, cities and culture, and gastronomy. In line with the trends and great potential, the STB has defined active experiences and sports tourism as the central two-year promotional theme.

For communication purposes, the STB will connect with athletes, ambassadors of Slovenian tourism and other influencers, and enter into partnerships with globally recognizable media and brands.

In recent years, Slovenia has been highlighted by numerous renowned media and often ranked at the very top of the list of most desirable destinations. In 2021, when the epidemiological situation allowed it, the STB conducted more than 100 press trips, hosting over 200 foreign journalists and online influencers. More than 1920 articles were published abroad, with a total estimated value of around EUR 50 million (the data refers to publications on the markets of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and Hungary).

This year, the STB continues and upgrades partnerships with athletes, foreign and domestic media and influencers. The same goes for fam trips for travel agents and tour operators.

After restrictions have been released and thanks to the possibility of holding events live, the STB continues with attending and holding several live fairs, workshops and other B2B events, especially in the European market. Alternative digital communication tools and hybrid FEEL SLOVENI@ Business Date events will still play important role. Partnerships with important global associations of tour operators such as Virtuoso and Signature are also being strengthened. “My way to escape to Slovenia” Feel Sloveni@ On-line Trainings will continue. At the end of May, the representatives of the Slovenian tourism industry and foreign TO/TA will meet again live in Slovenia at SIW, the B2B flagship event organised by the Slovenian Tourist Board. In autumn, the central professional event in Slovenian tourism, the Days of Slovenian Tourism 2022, will be held.

The STB continues with the marketing digitalisation, both in communication with tourists as well as in communication with the business public. Upgrading and strengthening of the digital content marketing, which will continue targeting potential visitors through top-quality content, is being upgraded and strengthened. Advanced technologies and digital tools will continue to be used and successful campaigns such as the global I FEEL SLOVENIA. MY WAY campaign implemented.

The pandemic greatly accelerated the digitization processes present already before the pandemic, which is why the STB, together with Slovenian tourism stakeholders, is preparing a strategy for the digital transformation of Slovenian tourism 2022-2026. The strategy will lay the foundations for the development of Slovenia into one of the most digitally advanced tourist countries in Europe.

On the domestic market, the STB will continue with and upgrade the My Slovenia motivational campaign, in which active and sports tourism will be brought to the spotlight. Also the co-production with the most renowned Slovenian media will continue, along with the press trips for Slovenian media. The STB has also joined the project of promoting professions in tourism and hospitality, where it will help strengthen the reputation of professions in hospitality and tourism through a series of promotional activities.

In particular, the pandemic emphasized the importance of sustainability in tourism, as tourists give increasing weight to the carbon footprint they make when traveling, which strengthens the importance of sustainable destinations. Therefore, the STB will upgrade the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, develop new performance indicators in tourism and pay special attention to encouraging the withdrawal of single-use plastics from the hospitality and tourism offer. It will continue to promote the creation of unique Slovenia Unique Experiences and innovative experiences.

The pandemic also emphasized the great importance of strengthening the knowledge and competencies of employees in tourism, so the STB will continue with the Academy of Marketing in Tourism.

Strengthening of the promotional activities for safe and unique experiences in the German market  

In terms of importance, despite the crisis, Germany remains the most important emitting European tourism market. Environmental protection and sustainable development have also become important factors in the tourism industry, both in addressing and developing new tourism products, which also applies to the German emitting market.

Germany remains one of the key markets for Slovenian tourism also in the future. Therefore, in accordance with the great importance for Slovenian tourism, the STB will carry out a number of promotional and marketing activities on the German market.

The emphasis will be given to clearly set target segments, higher value-added products and the strengthening of the perception of Slovenia as a safe, nearby tourist destination, which emphases sustainable development and green tourism. The STB maintains the strategic orientations of Slovenian tourism in all further communication activities, with the special emphasis on active experiences in nature and sports tourism as the umbrella communication topic for 2022-2023.

The focus will be put on the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hessen, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg, due to higher purchasing power and great media importance. Thanks to good car accessibility, the STB will also carry out promotional activities in Saxony.

As in other nearby markets, the STB also in Germany places special emphasis on digital content marketing, communication with the B2C segment through various communication channels (offline, online) and with top content or stories. The STB addresses selected target segments of the upper income class, which are looking for sustainable, authentic and non-mass destinations. At the same time, the STB continues to intensify cooperation with the business community (B2B) through various activities (fairs, webinars, workshops etc.). 

ITB Berlin ranks among the top international tourism fairs in terms of importance and size and boasts the longest tradition. This year, for the second time, it will be held virtually, but, different from last year, divided into two parts:

1) Virtual ITB Convention, (March 8-10, 2022), as the leading think-thank in the travel industry. The congress part of the ITB focuses on solutions in the field of digitization, sustainability and resilience. Top speakers will provide insight into the travel industry by covering a wide range of different topics.

2) ITB Berlin Business Day (March 17, 2022)

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