Slovenia strengthens development of tourism sector and intensifies activities for positioning Slovenia as a safe, sustainable and non-mass destination

Published: 30.3.2022

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Slovenia strengthens development of tourism sector and intensifies activities for positioning Slovenia as a safe, sustainable and non-mass destination

Today, at the press conference, Minister of the Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, Ksenija Flegar, Director General of the Directorate for Tourism and Ilona Stermecki, Acting Director of the STB, presented key development and promotion projects for 2022.

Slovenia strengthens development of tourism sector and intensifies activities for positioning Slovenia as a safe, sustainable and non-mass destination

In 2021, Slovenian tourism recorded better results of tourist visits than in 2020. The government provided more than one billion euros in aid to the tourism sector to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, which enabled the tourism sector to survive, preserve jobs and alleviate corporate liquidity problems. This year, the Ministry of the Economy will focus on stimulating the investment cycle in tourism with EUR 140 million, adopting a new tourism development strategy and adapting Slovenia's tourism promotion to nearby markets.

In 2022, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) will continue to strengthen and upgrade its promotional activities with the aim of increasing the visibility and the desired positioning of Slovenia as a sustainable and boutique tourism destination. Among the key projects is the promotion of the digital transformation of Slovenian tourism. The main communication topics for 2022-2023 are active experiences in pristine nature and sports tourism.

More than 140 million euros for tourism in 2022

Compared to 2020, Slovenian tourism recorded better results in 2021. 4 million tourist arrivals were recorded, which is 31 % more than in 2020, and more than 11 million overnight stays, which is 22 % more. The inflow from travel exports amounted to 1.5 billion euros, which is 26 % more than in 2020. Foreign guests generated 50 % more arrivals than 2020 and 43 % more overnight stays. This is especially thanks to Slovenian or domestic tourists, as they generated 57 % of all tourist overnight stays and 10 % more more overnight stays than in 2020 and more than 46 % more overnight stays than in 2019.

Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek emphasized that the pandemic crisis had severely affected the tourism sector, which was joined by the war in Ukraine. “The state or on her behalf, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, has always been and will be an important partner of Slovenian tourism. We helped the sector as much as possible. Despite the difficult circumstances, we have taken numerous measures to enable the survival and active operation of the Slovenian tourism sector.”

Počivalšek pinpointed that the state had helped the sector with more than 1 billion euros in 10 anti-corona packages and a special intervention law to help the hospitality and tourism sector. "Through timely and concrete measures, we have increased the demand of domestic tourists, helped companies to retain employees and jobs, and helped overcome the liquidity problems of the tourism industry."

Tourism vouchers have significantly increased overnight stays of domestic guests and the operation of the tourism sector. So far, a total of 3.71 million redemptions of 2020 and 2021 vouchers have been made, with a total value of almost 393 million euros. The government extended the validity of the vouchers until the end of June this year.

The habits of tourists have changed.

Due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the habits of tourists have also changed. To a lesser extent, they opt for mass tourism destinations. Instead, they prefer to choose green holidays, which include activities in nature, as well as staying at tourist farms, glampings, camps and apartments. Holidays at home and in nearby car-accessible markets have also increased.

Počivalšek also announced three key priorities in the field of tourism this year. "This year, we will allocate more than EUR 140 million to tourism, as we want to stimulate the investment cycle in the direction of raising the quality of public tourist infrastructure, accommodation facilities and tourist offer in the direction of green high-quality tourism. Our aim is also to increase the added value of employees in tourism.” He also announced the long-awaited one-off tourism aid measure for the most affected tourism and hospitality companies during the pandemic in the amount of 10 million euros, which is expected to be published in 14 days.

"Another important priority is to ensure a stable and predictable business environment, with special emphasis on the adoption of the new 2022–2028 Strategy of Sustainable Development of Slovenian Tourism. The strategy maintains the key direction of Slovenian tourism in greater added value for all stakeholders. ”The document has been prepared and is expected to be adopted by the government and presented in more detail to the general public by the end of April.

"The third priority is to adapt the country's activities in the field of tourism promotion to the new pandemic and war in Ukraine, focusing on nearby markets such as Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland," he added.

The Minister wrapped up his presentation by pointing out the successful presentation of Slovenia at EXPO Dubai, which has been “the largest organized business presentation of Slovenia abroad in its 30-year history”.

In 2022, the STB continues to intensify its activities in adapting to the changed situation

In the 2022–2023 work program, the STB has defined intensified and upgraded promotional and development activities, which will be carried out in close cooperation with Slovenian tourism providers, destinations, product associations and other key partners of Slovenian tourism.

Acting Director of the STB, llona Stermecki, M.Sc., highlighted key activities and topics of the STB in 2022: “Promotional activities primarily focus on nearby European markets, where we address the segment of guests with higher income. We have also intensified marketing and promotional activities with special emphasis on active experiences and sports tourism. The domestic market will be of great importance this year as well, which is why we are continuing with the My Slovenia campaign, within which the campaign for the promotion of professions in tourism is taking place for the first time. We are upgrading our partnerships with top athletes, ambassadors of Slovenian tourism, and partnerships with global influential media and brands such as National Geographic and Lonely Planet. We are strengthening the exposure of the I feel Slovenia brand at events at home and abroad, especially within the framework of international sports events in Slovenia. Special attention is given to the digital transformation of Slovenian tourism, and the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Slovenian Tourism for 2022-2026 has also been prepared. We continue and upgrade the green story of Slovenian tourism with unique and innovative experiences and activities to upgrade the Green Scheme of Slovenian tourism, such as encouraging the elimination of disposable plastic from the hospitality and tourism.”

She also emphasized that the STB will continue supporting the promotional activities of the Slovenian tourism industry this year as well. Thus, a public tender for co-financing the activities of promoting the tourist offer of the leading tourist destinations in Slovenia in 2022 will be published shortly.

A series of activities to strengthen the visibility of Slovenia abroad and the My Slovenia Campaign in the domestic market

In recent years, Slovenian tourism has received great attention from the global media and, and has once again been ranked at the top of several lists of the most recommended destinations to visit. Last year, the STB conducted more than 100 press trips, hosting over 200 foreign journalists and influencers. More than 1920 publications with a total estimated value of around EUR 50 million were recorded in foreign media (the data refer to the following markets: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and Hungary). This is the result of systematic and targeted marketing and promotional activities, which the STB is continuing with this year as well. The STB also expects Slovenia to be exposed in many reputable foreign media this year, as it will host representatives of several reputable media, such as the British Independent, Forbes, Cycling Magazine and Nat Geo Traveler, already until the beginning of the summer season. Activities will be carried out to present Slovenia as a safe nearby destination for the media on the Hungarian, Croatian and Serbian markets.

More than 1920 publications with a total estimated value of around EUR 50 million were recorded in foreign media.

Among the key STB promotional campaigns this year is the Global Digital Campaign, which will take place in 21 global markets (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, France, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Denmark , Finland, Sweden, Serbia, Croatia, USA and Canada). The campaign highlights 6 key products of Slovenian tourism; Active Outdoor Experiences, Sports Events, Health and Well-being, Cities and Culture, Gastronomy and Business Meetings and Events. It will run on all major online platforms such as Google (Search, Discovery, Performance Max), YouTube, Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and TikTok.

On the domestic market, the STB continues with the "My Slovenia" campaign, which has been upgraded with the campaign to promote professions in tourism. The campaign, which was first launched by the STB in May 2020, recorded excellent results in 2021, including more than 1.25 million posts with #mojaslovenija and #IfeelSlovenia hashtags. It was supported by major Slovenian media houses with more than 200 articles, and the total media value of publications within the campaign since its launch amounted to more than 3.5 million euros. This year, the STB's campaign is working on including leading and other destinations more intensively. It will take place in several channels, including co-production with television and radio media houses, press trips for domestic media, and the partnership with Slovenian Railways. The STB will also be involved in the promotional campaign for professions in tourism, together with other key institutions. The aim is increasing the reputation of professions in hospitality and tourism and encourage higher enrollment numbers to secondary and higher education programs related to hospitality and tourism.

In 2022, the STB continues to work with globally recognized media brands such as Lonely Planet and National Geographic: A media campaign is underway with Lonely Planet, which will include a press trip for Lonely Planet journalists on outdoor activities. A series of articles and content contributions will also be published. Slovenia was also included in the prestigious Lonely Planet "Best in Travel 2022" list. The Geography of Adventure campaign on National Geographic channels presents Slovenia as an exceptional destination for active outdoor experiences. In the first wave of the campaign at the end of 2021, advertising took place on National Geographic television channels in Germany, Austria, Italy, UK, France and Slovenia. This year, the National Geographic team in Slovenia will record top video and photo content that will present Slovenia as a green, active and healthy destination for unique active outdoor experiences through a series of stories and publications. The emphasis will be on hiking, cycling, winter sports and water activities. The second part of the campaign will take place in the summer. The STB will continue to partner with the most influential gastronomic brands such as Michelin, Gault & Millau and 50 Best this year as well.

This year, the STB will also highlight the key products of Slovenian tourism with an advertising campaign in foreign online and specialized print media. It is about content advertising in the form of editorial-promotional articles and advertisements. The campaign will complement and strengthen the message of other promotional activities in key markets, and its goal is to raise awareness of Slovenia as a boutique tourist destination for guests with higher income and increase interest in key products of Slovenian tourism.

Live tourism events are back

Before the main tourist season, intensified marketing activities and presentations of Slovenian tourism at fairs, workshops and exhibitions take place in nearby European countries (up to 500 km) and in markets where air connections to Slovenia are available. Special attention is given to workshops.

Next week, on April 8, a live business conference and tourism workshop with more than 40 key tour operators and travel agencies from Texas and the USA will take place in Dallas. The event will be held by the STB in cooperation with key national institutions (SPIRIT, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and other stakeholders after a successful I FEEL SLOVENIA match in Dallas. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Slovenia has been returning to the US market, which together with Canada forms the most important overseas market for 2022.

From May 29 to June 1, the Slovenian Incoming Workshop (SIW) will take place live. This is the flagship annual business event held for foreign B2B public in Slovenia. The STB has adapted the format of the event to the current situation, which is why the event is now called SIW on Boutique Tour since last year. It includes two-day boutique press trips and unique experiences, as well as formal and informal talks and meetings between foreign participants and Slovenian tourism providers.

Another major event held in Slovenia between 17 and 20 May is the highest session of the ETC and the directors of European national tourism boards. As a host, Slovenia will function as a coordinator of this important meeting.

The STB also continues to partner with the world's leading tourism associations in the field of luxury and boutique tourism.

Promotional and marketing activities in markets with particularly high-growth potential

In marketing and promotional activities, the STB will continue to pay special attention to markets that show the greatest growth potential in the light of changing travel conditions. These are the nearby European markets and markets with air-connections.

The STB will carry out a series of intensified activities in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A press trip for journalists from the Czech Republic and Hungary will take place in May. This year's SIW on Boutique Tour will be attended by important travel organizers and travel agents. Putdoor advertising will be carried out in Prague and Budapest in May and September, and workshops in Prague and Warsaw in April. A special event for the media and key travel agencies and tour operators will also take place in Budapest in April, and an agreement on closer co-operation with the Hungarian Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators is expected to be signed. In May, the STB will attend the most important business event in Hungary for about 1,000 key representatives of Hungarian tourism, where Slovenia will be a partner country of the event. A special visit and a fam trip for key Hungarian tour operators and travel agencies to Slovenia is being prepared. A workshop on Slovenian tourism will be held in Budapest this autumn.

The STB is also strengthening activities on the Croatian market, where a business event, including a workshop and a press conference, will be held in May in Zagreb. In the autumn, traditional Days of Slovenian Tourism in Zagreb will take place again.

The STB will also strengthen its activities in the Serbian market. Fam trips for important TO/TA will be carried out, the first of them in April. A press conference with a presentation of Slovenia and outdoor and wellness experiences will be held in Belgrade in May, and a business event (workshop) in autumn.

The STB has strengthened its activities in the GCC States, where Slovenia addresses key travel organizers and travel agents through a range of activities. There is a great interest in Slovenia in these countries and the regular airline of the flydubai carrier, which connects Ljubljana and Dubai, is also extremely important. Along with taking care for the communication with the media and business public, trainings are organized by travel organizers and travel agents, as well as webinars about Slovenia as a safe and attractive destination. The applications of major travel organizers and travel agents for this year's SIW are also in progress. PR activities in the market are also intensive and include press in cooperation with the airline Flydubai. Activities for preparing posts about Slovenia on social networks in Arabic and advertising campaigns on social networks with major travel organizers are also the progress. Promotional support will be provided to the FlyDubai scheduled airline between Dubai and Ljubljana. Additional business tourism events are being prepared in the autumn months, i.e. roadshow and the press trip of flydubai agents.

Activities in the UK market are also in full swing. Press trips for the most influential media such as the Gardian, the Daily Mail, the Independent, National Geographic Traveller and others will take place in May. The participation of important travel organizers and travel agents in this year's SIW tourism fair is also planned. In September, the STB will also attend the prestigious Connections in London and WTM London in November. 

A workshop in Paris will be held in France in mid-April, and a press trip for representatives of the French media in May in cooperation with Transavia, which is opening a new Ljubljana-Paris route. The French market is also expected to have a good participation of top travel organizers and travel agents at this year's SIW. The STB will attend the IFTM TOP Resa fair in Paris in September.

Major tour operators and travel agents from the Belgian market are expected to attend this year's SIW, as Slovenia is also hosting the 40th annual congress of Selectair, the Belgian Association for Tour Operators and Travel Agents. On this occasion, between 80 and 100 Belgian travel agencies and tour operators will be in Slovenia. In addition, business events in Belgium will take place in October and November.

The IMTM in Tel Aviv, which is being attended by the STB, is just coming to an end. Active invitations of important travel organizers and travel agents from Israel to this year's SIW are underway, and a business event will be held in the autumn.

A clear focus on sustainable development and successful implementation positions Slovenia among the greenest destinations on the globe

The key challenges that tourism faces today, were addressed in Slovenia even before the pandemic. Sustainable development, which has been placed at the core of all promotional and development activities in Slovenian tourism, has positioned Slovenia at the top of the most sustainable destinations on the global level. Thanks to the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, with which the STB successfully implements a sustainable commitment at the national level, Slovenia has become an example of good practice in international professional circles.

The STB continues to develop and upgrade the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, where special attention is paid to encouraging providers and destinations to withdraw disposable plastic and develop of sustainable events. By signing the Commitment for the Exclusion of Disposable Plastics from Slovenian Tourism, they oblige themselves to stop using disposable plastic items defined in the agreement by the end of 2022 (bottles, plastic jars, plastic food packaging and plastic packaging in hotel rooms) and follow the principles of the "Global Tourism Plastic Initiative". To date, the pledge has been signed by more than 80 businesses. The ambassador and the first to sign the initiative was masterchef Luka Košir, the recipient of the 2021 Michelin Star and the Green Michelin Star.

Slovenia as a destination for excellent active experiences and sports tourism

For 2022–2023, the STB defined active outdoor experiences and sports tourism as the main communication topics, which is why even more attention will be paid to the development of this segment. By connecting key stakeholders in the field of sports and tourism, the STB will strive to contribute to the creation of a coordinated and sustainable set of measures and events that will bring long-term economic, social and promotional effects. With the aim of coordinated cooperation of key stakeholders in the field of sports tourism and the preparation of strategic guidelines and priority measures in the field of sports tourism, the STB's Expert Group on Sports Tourism was established in 2022.

The 2022-2023 Action Plan for the Development and Marketing of Sports Tourism of Slovenia is being prepared. This will be the basis for marketing and promotional activities in the field of sports tourism in Slovenia with an emphasis on sports events and preparations of athletes. In-depth interviews with key stakeholders and cross-sectoral workshops with stakeholder representatives across all 4 macro destinations are currently underway. The document will be available in June.

The STB continues and upgrades partnerships with top athletes, ambassadors of Slovenian tourism, who have helped building Slovenia's global visibility as a tourist destination for many years. This year, the ambassadors Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič were joined by top climber Janja Garnbret. Agreements are also underway to continue cooperation with Luka Dončić, Ilka Štuhec and Rok Možič. As part of the My Slovenia campaign, young promising Slovenian athletes will also be highlighted. With the umbrella Slovenian sports organization, the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, the STB conducted communication activities during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, and this year the STB will also participate in the European Youth Olympic Festival in Maribor  and the first Slovenian international sports film festival in Rogaška Slatina.

In 2022, Slovenia will also host numerous international sporting events, where the STB will continue to promote Slovenia's visibility among sports enthusiasts by highlighting the I feel Slovenia brand. Among such sporting events are Zlata Lisica, Pokal Vitranc, FIS Ski World Cup Final, Planica, GIRO 'D ITALIA - SLOVENIAN STAGE, Tour of Slovenia, EHF European Women's Handball Championship, Ljubljana, Celje, Skopje , Podgorica and Men's Ice Hockey World Championship, Division I, Group A, Ljubljana.

The 2022-202 Digital Transformation of Slovenian Tourism is ready

The strategy defines Slovenia as “a role model for smart destinations that strengthens and encourages the development of sustainable, boutique, personalized and innovative experiences”.

The STB has finalized the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Slovenian Tourism for 2022-2026, which is the first such strategic document in Slovenia. The reason for the preparation of the strategy is the growing need for the digital breakthrough of Slovenian tourism with a coordinated strategic approach.

In addition to the green transformation, the digital breakthrough is also a priority of the European Union, which is why the STB will implement the reform part of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. A National Information Center for measuring the effects of tourism and tourist flows will be established. At the same time, the National Information Center will form as a central measure of the Digital Transformation Strategy, which sets a clear vision and goals for the digital breakthrough.

The strategy defines Slovenia as “a role model for smart destinations that strengthens and encourages the development of sustainable, boutique, personalized and innovative experiences”. The goal of digital transformation is to empower all stakeholders in Slovenian tourism for data-supported decision-making, increase added value, competitiveness and resilience of tourism, promote sustainable transformation, personalize guest experiences, improve knowledge and digital competencies of employees and ensure higher quality of life for locals.

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