Days of Slovenian Tourism 2022, Plenary Day: A PATH TO GREATER VALUE FOR ALL

Published: 15.11.2022

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Days of Slovenian Tourism 2022, Plenary Day: A PATH TO GREATER VALUE FOR ALL

In the current strategic period, Slovenian tourism is pursuing a vision of green boutique tourism with a lower footprint and better value for all. In a challenging environment, the industry will need to remain focused on generating growth in line with the "something more and much better" orientation, which emphasises the development and marketing of a balanced offer of sustainable boutique tourism of a higher quality, thus making Slovenian tourism an increasingly strong promoter of sustainable development.

Days of Slovenian Tourism 2022, Plenary Day: A PATH TO GREATER VALUE FOR ALL

At the Plenary Day of this year's Days of Slovenian Tourism (DST) in Laško, stakeholders reflected on concrete guidelines and recommendations on how to put the vision of green boutique into practice. Keynote speakers agreed that a strong focus on sustainability and digital transformation remain among the key tools, while people remain at the centre.

The 2022-2028 Slovenian Tourism Strategy, adopted this spring, aims to achieve balanced growth based on the principle of "something more and much better". "Something more" refers to a moderate increase in capacity and quantitative indicators, while "much better" emphasises a strong focus on increasing quality and, consequently, added value in tourism. The strategy is at the heart of this year's Days of Slovenian Tourism, which take place from 14 to 16 November at the Thermana Park Laško Hotel.

At the Plenary Day, the participants were welcomed by the President of the Board of Thermana, Mojca Leskovar, and the Mayor of the Municipality of Laško, Franc Zdolšek. The opening speakers were the Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Matjaž Han, the Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), MSc. Maja Pak, President of the Slovenian Chamber of Tourism and Catering (TGZS) Andrej Prebil, President of the Slovenian Chamber of Crafts and Business (OZS) Blaž Cvar and President of the Slovenian Tourist Association (TZS) Pavle Hevka.

Minister of Economic Development and Technology Matjaž Han emphasised that the Tourism Strategy follows the principle of "something more, but much better": "This means that a moderate increase in the number of tourists and their overnight stays is indeed welcome, but we need to focus on increasing the quality of services and higher added value. When tourists get the experience we promised for their money, or even better - when they leave us with the feeling that 'something more' has been provided for them and are happy to return. An inter-ministerial working group will shortly be set up to steer the implementation of the strategy and the development of an action plan with clearly defined actions and financial resources. But it will be important for all of us, decision-makers, tourism providers and employees alike, to follow the strategy."

Slovenian tourism is facing a number of challenges, such as the energy crisis, high inflation, the consequences of the war in Ukraine, climate change, over-tourism in certain areas or at certain times of the year, and staff shortages. STB's Director, MSc. Maja Pak, talked about the art of finding the balance: "The vision of Slovenian tourism is green boutiqueness with a smaller footprint and more value for all. What is the value of the most comfortable bed, if we can't provide the guest with clean drinking water? What is the value of a five-star service worth without sufficient amounts of safe food? These and similar questions will have to be asked as Slovenian tourism strikes a delicate balance between responding urgently to crises, while moving towards a better future for all. The STB will help stakeholders along the way with a range of promotional, educational, development and other activities. Our biggest new projects in the coming period are the development of a national data centre and the creation of a model for the organisation of Slovenian tourism. We will support the development of quality tourism products with higher added value, contribute to strengthening the knowledge and competences of our employees and to raising the profile of the hospitality and tourism professions, while continuing to effectively promote Slovenia's tourism offer on both domestic and foreign markets. The situation is challenging. But in the face of these challenges, our most important task is to stay focused on the goals of the future."

With regard to the challenges facing the industry, TGZS President Andrej Prebil outlined four key foundations on which Slovenian tourism must build even more firmly and decisively in the future - sustainability and authenticity, five-star experiences, digital development and hospitality with quality staff. "In my opinion, the transformation of tourism in Slovenia is not yet successful. Why? Because we have all collectively neglected the verb 'to get to know'. We all need to realise that we need to be more flexible than ever, to change and adapt to new circumstances. Not just individuals, but all stakeholders in tourism. Not just us sitting here, but everyone in our businesses and organisations, the whole culture of tourism. Not only to know, but also to understand and to act. Not just words, but actions. We have to admit that it is necessary to change things for the better. If ever, now, in a time of crisis and chaos, is the time to realise, change, act and transform!"

Blaž Cvar, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed the need to increase added value in the hospitality sector, which can be achieved through new approaches in the field of digitalisation and better communication with guests: "But nothing can replace genuine human contact in person. All who are working in the hospitality and tourism industry must realise that our greatest strength is our people, our employees, their emotions, their warmth and the relationships they build with our guests. And as we pursue the objectives of raising the quality of our offer and alleviating the staffing problem, it is crucial that we also improve the situation of hospitality and tourism employees. Employee satisfaction is the key to keeping our guests happy." He stressed the need to further promote and create a positive image of the professions and added: "Our restaurants are being taken over by younger generations who have a different perception of the world. We do not need to fear for tradition, but we must also be able to listen to the ideas of young people, because it is the Michelin stars and other international awards that remind us of their strength. I am confident that our enthusiasm and energy will help us revolutionise the hospitality and tourism industry."

Pavle Hevka, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that every crisis is also an opportunity for those who are bold, who are not afraid of the unknown and who want to go beyond the existing framework. "This is the right time for all dedicated and hard-working tourism professionals, for whom tourism is not only a means of earning a living, but also a way of life, a way of communicating with people, and a way of caring for culture, heritage, history and everything that makes up the invisible network of within a country, even a small one like our beautiful Slovenia. We know how to be big and how to present our country as worthy of attention and admiration. We just need to stand together, as we have done every year and also at this year's Slovenian Tourism Days. I know many owners and operators of tourism facilities who have benefited from the two-year forced "break", if I may call it that, as it has enabled them to renew and upgrade their existing tourism infrastructure and boldly build new ones."

The expert part of the Plenary Day outlined the macro-economic impact of geopolitical challenges, the energy crisis and the price increases on tourism, at national and global level The topics of strengthening sustainable development as a prerequisite for business competitiveness and the importance of risk management through diversification of supply and the search for business opportunities in sustainable innovation were adressed.

Bojan Ivanc, Chief Economist of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (GZS), spoke about economic expectations and tourism trends in a period of high inflation. He highlighted the rising prices of food, energy and transport, which makes tourism services more expensive. Experts, he said, expect tourist spending in Slovenia next year to be similar in real terms to this year. The worst-case scenario, however, would be increased geopolitical risks in the region, which could curb the mobility of foreign visitors.

Andreja Kodrin, CEO of Quintaum, spoke about surviving in an era of turbulence and called for building resilience of tourism. A green, low-carbon and sustainable strategy "is not something that is nice to have or a means of communication for the best, it is something that you all need to do." She stressed, among other things, the need for anticipation and constant adaptation, building self-sufficiency according to a plan way and learning from nature. She said that we needed to focus on the well-being not only of guests but also of tourism workers.

Jonathan Gómez Punzón, Director of the Malaga Tourist Board, presented inspiring examples of introducing advanced technologies in Malaga, also known as the Silicon Valley of Europe. Malaga is, among other things, taking advantage of virtual reality or metaverse, which increases visitor engagement and reduces costs, and, through the use of NFT tokens, stimulates local consumption and provides additional resources for tourism promotion.

In a round-table discussion, Dubravka Kalin, Acting Director General of the Directorate for Tourism at the Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism, Klemen Langus, Director of Bohinj Tourism, Alenka Kikec, Director of Visit Šaleška dolina, Mojca Leskovar, President of the Board of Thermana Laško, and Simon Rožnik, Director of Extrem, experience marketing agency, talked about the paradigm shift. They agreed that Slovenian tourism has laid a solid foundation in the field of sustainability, which can help respond to current challenges by adapting, thinking differently, creating new products, actively managing tourism flows and other measures.

The Slovenian Tourist Board and the Slovenian Olympic Committee enter into a strategic partnership for joint promotion ahead of the Paris Olympics

Today, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) and the Slovenian Olympic Committee (SOC) signed an agreement on a strategic partnership for promoting Slovenia as a sports tourism destination, with a focus on the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. The aim of the agreement is to further intensify communication on both domestic and foreign markets and to implement a unified national promotional campaign with ambassador athletes and Olympians. It is also important to share common values: promoting outdoor activities, a healthy lifestyle at all ages, and presenting Slovenia as a sustainable destination for sports experiences, events and athletes' preparations. As part of the overall communication, special care is given to increase the visibility of the I feel Slovenia national brand.

The highest awards in Slovenian tourism

The highest awards in Slovenian tourism were presented at a ceremony held as part of the Days of Slovenian Tourism in Celje: The Crystal Triglav Award for Personality of the Year, the Ambassador of Slovenian Tourism, the Sejalec Award, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Slovenian Tourism, the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Hospitality Industry, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Development of a Local Tourist Board and the Crystal Triglav Award.


A train ride to the Days of Slovenian Tourism

A new feature of this year's event was the invitation to travel to Laško by train. In doing so, the STB and Slovenian Railways are also contributing to reducing the carbon footprint and promoting more responsible tourism.

Photos by: Nino Verdnik


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