Slovenia celebrates World Tourism Day by focusing on the development of safe, sustainable, responsible and inclusive tourism

Published: 26.9.2022

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Slovenia celebrates World Tourism Day by focusing on the development of safe, sustainable, responsible and inclusive tourism

This year's World Tourism Day invites us to rethink tourism. On this occasion, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (MGRT) and the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) held a press conference on a train. The topics covered projects, activities and measures, which respond to the many challenges that tourism is currently is facing. 

Slovenia celebrates World Tourism Day by focusing on the development of safe, sustainable, responsible and inclusive tourism

Slovenian tourism is responding to trends and the changed purchasing behaviour of tourists by transforming into an even more sustainable, responsible, inclusive and resilient tourism. The press conference highlighted projects, activities and measures which responds to the many challenges that tourism is currently is facing. Slovenian tourism is responding to trends and the changed purchasing behaviour of tourists by transforming into an even more sustainable, responsible, inclusive and resilient tourism. The journalists were addressed by Minister of Economic Development and Technology Matjaž Han, director of the STB, MSc. Maja Pak and Director of passenger traffic at Slovenian Railways, MSc. Darja Kocjan.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has defined "Rethinking tourism" as the theme of World Tourism Day 2022. This is an opportunity to once again look beyond tourism statistics and highlight the role of tourism as a promoter of sustainable development and as an industry committed to even more responsible, inclusive and resilient development. It is crucial to create the tourism of the future, which is also based on the more intensive inclusion of all groups and the orientation towards achieving added value for both tourists, the local community and employees. How successful Slovenian tourism will be in achieving a sustainable, inclusive and digital transformation will also affect, how industry will respond to the many challenges it is facing today.

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, Minister of Economic Development and Technology Matjaž Han highlighted tourism's importance for the Slovenian economy and the key objectives of the development of Slovenian tourism: "We can be very satisfied with the tourist season so far, but the autumn-winter time brings uncertainty due to the situation in the world. But every crisis can also be an opportunity for a faster development breakthrough. We have a new strategy for the development of Slovenian tourism, which develops our assets, adds value for companies and employees as well as guests and local communities, while at the same time reducing the negative impact of tourism on the environment and destinations, as we know it in mass tourism. We moved from the goal of 'even more tourists' to the goal of 'more added value'. In the development of tourism, we are therefore now mainly focusing on the goal of higher added value per employee, which we want to increase to 60,000 euros by 2028, and an increase in the quality of products and services and the satisfaction of employees in tourism. Tourism is of exceptional economic importance for Slovenia – it represents 10% of GDP and employs more than 57,000 people and creates prosperity in local environments. I would like to thank everyone who works in tourism for their hard work, cooperation, creativity and perseverance. I want you to know that you can count on my support and I invite you to continue creating even better Slovenian tourism for everyone."

At the press conference, MSc. Maja Pak, director of the STB, presented the STB's projects and activities, which respond to the many changes and challenges that Slovenian tourism is facing in the post-pandemic period: "2022 started with optimism and a restart of activities in tourism, according to statistics, we are approaching 2019. However, this is not the key message of this year's World Tourism Day. This year, we want to emphasize the great importance of this perspective industry for the Slovenian economy and for other areas, the necessity of adapting tourism to changing conditions and the consideration of how to achieve even more sustainable, inclusive, resilient and fair tourism as soon as possible, for all: tourists, nature, destinations, locals and& employees. We have the strategy and now it is time to implement it." 

She went on to add: "In order to successfully recover and strengthen the resilience of tourism, it will be necessary to transform the industry. This is a long-term and demanding process that requires a change in management processes and the assumption of new responsibilities at all levels in tourism, especially in the light of additional challenges for the industry. Our goal is to create even more sustainable and creative experiences for more demanding guests who search for tourist offer with higher added value, to encourage the development and promotion of all-year-round products in all Slovenian regions. A leap in digitalization is needed at all levels, an increase in the competences of employees and an even more intensive cooperation of all key stakeholders. These are the key directions that guided the Slovenian Tourism Board in defining activities and projects for 2022 and 2023."

Pak also emphasized that Slovenia highlighted the need to creating green and inclusive tourism years ago, which is why it underwent the sustainable development of tourism, implemented through the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism.

At the press conference, also MSc. Darja Kocjan, director of Slovenian Railways –Passenger Transport was present. She brought the meaning of rail travel for sustainability to the fore: "Rail travel is a safe and sustainable mode of transport, which is why I am thrilled that we are raising the quality with many new modern trains. The number of passengers is generally increasing, on average more than 14 million passengers travelsannually by train. Slovenia is connected to all major European cities by rail. Favourable, even low-priced offers are available. At weekends and holidays, tickets for traveling around Slovenia are 75% cheaper, and other favourable offers are available, such as Interrail tickets for exploring Slovenia etc. As a carrier, we also want investments, upgrades, double-tracking and electrification of regional lines, which give potential for the development and expansion of the public passenger transport offer."

She emphasized that the electrification and double-tracking of the lines would significantly increase the flexibility and improve the means of transport (on-time traffic, greater number of trains at peak times, shorter journey times...). Passenger transport services by rail are being upgraded into a comprehensive transport service based on the "MaaS - Mobility as a Service" concept, such as Park and Ride and the mobility concepts of carsharing and bikesharing. At major railway stations, passengers already have the option of renting bicycles, using bicycle sheds and parking lots for bicycles.

Kocjan added: "By integrating mobility offers between all stakeholders, we can build even better long term public transport, both on more and less profitable routes. Partnerships, such as the one with the STB, which sustainably and comprehensively covers Slovenian tourism offer, also play an important role. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the STB for putting a sustainable emphasis on the way of traveling in Slovenia and for creating stories with us."

Activities of the Ministry of the Economic Development and Technology in the field of tourism 

Minister of Economic Development and Technology Matjaž Han also presented the key goals and activities of the ministry in the coming months. The Ministry will monitor the achievement of the goals defined in the 2022-2028 Slovenian Tourism Strategy. In particular, the minister highlighted the increase in added value per employee in the catering and accommodation industry from over 36,000 to 60,000 euros, the increase in inflows from travel exports to 4 billion euros in 2028, the extension of the average length of stay from 2.5 to 3 nights, the increase in occupancy of all types accommodation capacities from 35 to 39 percent and increase in satisfaction of employees, local population and tourists.

By the end of 2022, the Ministry will prepare an Action Plan for Tourism for 2023 and 2024, which will define measures and activities included in the strategy and financial resources. The tourism development plan will be prepared in cooperation with several ministries and tourism industry stakeholders.

This year, the ministry successfully held four public tenders, which allocated 80 million euros to the tourism industry. The tourism industry will soon receive a package of 69 million euros for investments in higher quality accommodation capacity, and by the end of the year the ministry will repeat the tender for investments in public tourist infrastructure in the amount of 10 million euros and in the digital upgrade of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism in the amount of 1 million euros.

In 2023, changes in the legislative field are also expected, as the ministry will prepare a new law on hospitality and amend the law on the promotion of tourism development. The first will eliminate administrative obstacles and ambiguities in practice and regulate short-term rental of real estate to tourists (such as AirB&B) and the operating hours of caterers. The Act on Promotion of Tourism will strengthen the connection between national and local tourism development, define the roles and the method of financing the Slovenian tourism system in accordance with the needs of the new strategy, and strengthen the products of the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism and the Green Transition.

The ministry also pays special attention to personnel in tourism, especially among young people. Together with the STB& and partners from the tourism sector, it implements a promotional campaign to raise the reputation of professions in hospitality and tourism. For this purpose, a special website entitled "My career in tourism" will be launched, offering all information in one place for young people who are thinking about careers in the tourism sector. In addition, the strategy envisages a number of measures in the field of human resources, which will be implemented in the coming years.

The STB’s work programme is upgraded in accordance with trends and current challenges and focuses on realizing the vision and goals of the 2022-2028 Slovenian Tourism Strategy

In 2022/2023, in accordance with the 2022-2028 Tourism Strategy, the STB is taking on an even greater role in the development of Slovenian tourism, focusing even more intensively on sustainable development, digitalization and support for the Slovenian tourism economy. By advocating for high added value in tourism, it pursues the realization of the vision of the current strategy of moderate quantitative and intensive qualitative growth. In doing so, the STB carries out development and promotional activities by taking into account the strengthening of added value for providers, tourists, the local community and employees.

Continuing the green story of Slovenia and realizing the goal of higher added value in tourism

The STB continues and strengthens the green story of Slovenia by upgrading the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism (GSST) with new performance indicators and new projects such as Green Cuisine, sustainable events and elimination of single-use plastics. GSST digitalization activities are also underway.

The green story, which is at the very core of the I feel Slovenia brand, is intensively communicated by the STB attrade fairs, workshops, in digital and other campaigns, in partnerships with the most influential athletes - ambassadors of Slovenian tourism, the media, gastronomic and other guides, and professional associations.

Special attention is given to the promotion of Slovenia as a tourist destination and the appearance of the I feel Slovenia brand in the context of the biggest sports events in Slovenia, i.e. world and European championships and other international sports events, the total number of which will exceed 60 this year.

Highlighting Slovenia and the national brand at the Men's Volleyball World Championship was one of the key activities for sporting events in Slovenia in 2022, and& the same goes for the ongoing activities with regard to the second biggest sporting event of this year - the European Women's Handball Championship. Underway are are also the preparations for the biggest sporting events in 2023, i.e. ;FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2023, the European ;Women's Basketball Championship, the European Rowing Championship in Bled, the European Youth Olympic Festival in Maribor and the already traditional Tour of Slovenia cycling race. The activities of the STB and Slovenia Outdoor for increasing the visibility of Slovenia as a destination for excellent active experiences, as a host of international sports events and as a perfect destination for the preparation of athletes, are brought to the forefront in 2022 and 2023, when active outdoor experiences and sports tourism represent the umbrella communication topic of Slovenian tourism.

Improving the quality of guest experience

With the goal of better quality experiences for tourists, the STB implements and supports activities for the digital transformation of Slovenian tourism, projects targeting tourist flows and deseasonalization, and strengthens the knowledge and competences of employees in tourism.

In implementing the 2022-2026 Strategy for the digital transformation of Slovenian tourism, the STB aims to achieve a breakthrough at the international level, which will place Slovenia among the most digitally advanced countries in the field of tourism. For this purpose, the National Information Centre is being established, the GSST is being digitalized and the IT-tour event is being prepared for the first time. It will be held as part of the Days of Slovenian Tourism in Laško and is intended to present examples of good practices from the field of digitalization. The STB also participates in the project of digitalized units of cultural heritage.

In promotional activities with the aim of directing tourist flows to less visited destinations, special attention is paid to highlighting lesser-known parts of Slovenia. The STB encourages the creation of projects that improve the quality of the guests' experience as Slovenia Unique Experiences, as well as the creation of new, authentic and innovative products, such as experiences awarded with the Sejalec award. Experiences are crucially influenced by the knowledge and competences of employees in tourism, which is why the STB is working on upgrading this year's edition of the Academy for marketing in tourism, where renowned foreign and Slovenian experts share knowledge, experience and examples of good practices with representatives of Slovenian tourist destinations. The activities of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRP) for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth are crucial for achieving the goals of deseasonalization and directing tourist flows. The NRP includes two components: the implementation of a modern digital analytical tool for measuring the effects of tourism in all leading destinations of Slovenian tourism with the aim of sustainable transformation of tourism and the measurement of tourist flows in leading destinations, determining the capacity of leading destinations and geographically distributed development of sustainable tourism.

Marketing and promotional activities of the STB on foreign, especially European markets are carried out in a targeted manner and in accordance with the appeal of guests who are looking for higher added value. They position Slovenia as a safe, sustainable, authentic destination for active and healthy experiences. At the same time, partnerships with reputable media such as National Geographic and Lonely Planet are being strengthened and thevisibility of Slovenia as an excellent gastronomic destination with brands such as Michelin and Gault&Millau is being accelerated. Partnerships with reputable associations such as Virtuoso, Connections and Selectair are important for successful positioning among the global professional tourism public.

On the Slovenian market, the STB continues and builds on the Moja Slovenija campaign, and together with partner institutions in tourism addresses the challenge of raising the reputation of hospitality and tourism professions with the Creating experiences campaign. The campaign on the @turizemjezakon TikTok profile was launched this summer. It addresses young people and encourages them for a career in tourism. The campaign has more than 3,500 followers, while videos have reached more than 855,000 views in the first three months.

Encouraging providers and destinations to create quality and safe experiences with the Green&Safe brand

To support the tourism industry in the creation of high-quality experiences with higher added value, this year, for the third time in a row, the STB is conducting tenders for co-financing the promotion of the Slovenian tourist offer on foreign and Slovenian markets for leading tourist destinations. Calls for travel agencies and tour operators, as well as calls for independent tour guides, were published. This year, the STB also provides support for marketing and promotional projects for incoming tourist agencies and tour operators.

The STB in Slovenian Railways partner up to improve sustainable mobility

Ensuring sustainable mobility is also important for realizing Slovenia's sustainable story and reducing the gap between the promise of sustainable tourism and its realization. This is why today, on World Tourism Day, the STB's campaign with the Slovenian Railways was launched. It invites guests to experience sustainable mobility in Slovenia by using the train, especially the train in the colours of the I feel Slovenia brand and the motifs of the four macro destinations of Slovenia.

Travel export value growth approaches 2019 level, overnight stays at 2019 level

From the beginning of January to the end of August, Slovenia was visited by about 4.3 million tourists, who generated more than 11.7 million overnights, which is more than in the entire year 2021. Domestic tourists generated almost 4.2 million overnight stays (36% of all ) or by 11% more than in the same period last year, and foreign 7.5 million or by 138% more than the previous year.

You are also invited to read the letter from the Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Matjaž Han, and watch the message by the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili.

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In the cover photo: Minister Matjaž Han, Director of the STB MSc. Maja Pak and the Director of Passenger Transport of Slovenian Railways celebrated the World Tourism Day by hosting a press conference on a train. The press conference highlighted the importance of sustainable mobility for the realization of Slovenia's green story. Photo: Blenda

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