Luxembourg Business Forum shines spotlight on tourism, aerospace and woodworking

Published: 12.9.2023 More info

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Luxembourg Business Forum shines spotlight on tourism, aerospace and woodworking

During the visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Robert Golob, in Luxembourg, a business forum was held with a focus on tourism, the space sector, and woodworking. The forum was organized by the SPIRIT Slovenia Public Agency, the Slovenian Tourist Board, and the Ministry of the Economy, Tourism, and Sport, in cooperation with the Slovenian Embassy in Brussels.

Luxembourg Business Forum shines spotlight on tourism, aerospace and woodworking

During his speech at the business forum, Slovenian Prime Minister Dr. Robert Golob highlighted the shared values between Slovenia and Luxembourg, which form a solid foundation for mutual cooperation. In his words, "it all begins with small steps, which gradually grow into significant milestones - much like the establishment of the Schengen area, an integral part of today's EU that we can't imagine living without." Prime Minister Dr. Golob also stressed the importance of political and economic openness for success, emphasizing that every small country must embrace these principles.

Since Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel visited Slovenia this February, both countries have achieved notable milestones. These accomplishments include the establishment of a new air connection between the capitals and the successful organization of a comprehensive business forum encompassing the wood industry, tourism, and space industry. Furthermore, the two leaders solidified their commitment to the latter sector by signing a memorandum of cooperation.

Flights from Ljubljana to Luxembourg will make Slovenia more accessible to German and French tourists

Tourism representatives were also present in Luxembourg. Slovenian tourist destinations and associations made vital connections and proudly represented Slovenia during business meetings with Luxembourg tour operators and tourism agencies. Moreover, starting this Thursday, Luxembourg and Slovenia will enjoy direct flight connections via Luxair on Thursdays and Sundays. Slovenia has already charmed tourists from Luxembourg and the broader region, with a more than 20% increase in overnight stays by Luxembourgish tourists in Slovenia during the first seven months of the year compared to the same period last year. Similarly, overnight stays by tourists from Benelux increased by 14%. With the launch of the new air route with Luxembourg, Slovenia will be more easily accessible also to parts of the German and French markets.

MSc. Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), who presented Slovenia as a green, active, and healthy tourist destination at the business forum, shared her thoughts with the media on the sidelines of the event: "The air connection between Luxembourg and Ljubljana opens up new and exciting opportunities in tourism. Last year, we welcomed a record number of Luxembourgish tourists to Slovenia, and this year the growth continues. Prestigious Luxembourg and its neighboring markets, such as Germany, Belgium, and France, are key markets for Slovenian tourism. We have launched a strong global digital campaign, we organize press trips for prominent journalists and fam trips for representatives of travel organizers and tourist agencies, and showcase Slovenian tourism at select fairs and events. I am confident that the new air connection will give Slovenian tourism an additional boost."


International cooperation is imperative for the advancement of the space sector

The conference dedicated to the aerospace sector witnessed the active participation of Slovenian companies and research institutions already entrenched in the space industry, maintaining fruitful partnerships with the European Space Agency (ESA). Their shared mission is clear: to fortify entrepreneurial cooperation across various domains, spanning from Earth observation to satellite communication and joint space projects. Remarkably, Luxembourg stands as one of the dynamic 22 ESA member states. During this event, Slovenian companies also embarked on a visit to SES S.A., the premier Luxembourg-based satellite telecommunications network provider, renowned for its constellation of over 70 satellites orbiting both in geostationary and medium earth orbits.

In a historic moment, Dr. Robert Golob, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, and Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the sphere of space activities for peaceful purposes. This agreement aims to boost partnerships between the two nations in the field of space technologies, fostering partnerships at both entrepreneurial and institutional levels, while contributing to the growth and development of the European Union's space sector.

The Head of the Slovenian Space Office, Tanja Permozer, expressed her enthusiasm for this groundbreaking agreement, highlighting its mutual origins and the resounding support it received from Slovenian enterprises: "The memorandum serves as a strong foundation for nurturing cooperation between Slovenia and Luxembourg, especially in the fields of space science, research, technology, innovation, applications, industrial partnerships, and education. We also anticipate  cooperation in other areas of shared interest, such as communications, security, and Earth observation. This agreement will guide us in identifying our initial partnership areas, facilitating the exchange of vital information, and coalescing on innovative ventures. Slovenian companies active in the space sector possess remarkable expertise, and international cooperation is the key to unlocking this sector's rapid development. Our collective mission is to translate our vast space-related knowledge, which Slovenia abundantly possesses, into everyday applications. Both the government and Slovenian businesses acknowledge that we stand at a pivotal juncture, underscoring our united commitment to establish a prominent global presence."

Luxembourg: A land of opportunity for woodworking

Among the participants were also woodworking and furniture companies, seeking to source the untapped potential of the Luxembourg market. Luxembourg, with its green development orientation and strategic geographical location, presents an enticing prospect for Slovenian woodworking enterprises. It also serves as a springboard for expanding business operations into the broader Benelux region, Germany, and France.

Darko Sajko, Director General of the Wood Industry Directorate, commented: "Luxembourg, with its green development orientation and geographical location, is definitely a market that represents great potential for the export-oriented part of the Slovenian wood processing industry, as well as for cooperation between research and development organizations in this field from both countries." Astonishingly, the statistics reveal a remarkable 119% surge in Slovenian wood industry exports to this promising market between 2021 and 2022. This growth is largely attributed to the export of prefabricated buildings, joinery, construction-related wooden products, and various furniture items. However, considering the current trade volume, which stands at a modest 2.5 million euros, there remains ample room for further expansion within the woodworking industry.

"Economic delegations and business meetings abroad, which occur alongside government visits, continually spark significant interest among companies. These occasions serve as exceptional opportunities for firms to forge valuable business connections and explore potential deals with greater ease, speed, and reduced risks when engaging with foreign markets. The state's role is to facilitate companies in accessing foreign markets, particularly in locations like Luxembourg, where numerous options for collaboration exist", explained Rok Capl, acting director of SPIRIT Slovenia and added: "Since Luxembourg is characterized by high innovation growth, and Slovenian companies are known as innovative, reliable business partners with high-quality and breakthrough products, this market can be a springboard for further growth of their business."

Impressions from business delegation participants

Jurij Gašper, Director of Gašper Trženje, d.o.o., expressed his satisfaction on participating in the business visit: "Participating in the delegation during the government visit provided us with valuable insights into Luxembourg's thriving business environment, offering valuable experience and contacts that will undoubtedly contribute to the further growth of our export activities. Luxembourg is an attractive and innovative market with a strong emphasis on technology and sustainability. We recognize these factors as pivotal for our ongoing development. Our primary objective was to identify potential partnerships with local companies and foster knowledge exchange. Equally important is the network we've established with fellow Slovenian delegation members. Our focus is on long-term cooperation, with an eye on the opportunities and growth prospects that lie ahead."

Miha Kadunc, Technical Director of Sinergisa, expressed eagerness for closer collaboration with Luxembourg companies: "In the space sector, the development and production of systems often present numerous challenges that individual companies struggle to overcome. Collaboration promises easier solutions to existing challenges, greater innovation momentum, and improved access to European and global markets associated with space technologies."

Dr. Tomaž Rodič, a professor at the Faculty of Science and Technology in Ljubljana and the head of the Space, Science, and the Vesolje-SITechnology Centre of Excellence, commented: "For many years, the Vesolje-SI Centre of Excellence has been inspired by the ambitious approaches and achievements of Luxembourg companies. They serve as exemplars, demonstrating that even smaller countries can thrive in the global space technology and services markets. The Luxembourg space sector can offer valuable insights on achieving significant market shares, even reaching into the billions."

Tina Novak Samec, Director of the Brda Institute for Tourism, Culture, Youth, and Sports, explained: "The Benelux market is vital for Brda. In the first eight months of this year, these guests made up 15 percent of our visitors, and an impressive 19 percent of our total overnight stays. Year after year, we're seeing more of them. What's great is that they're the kind of guests who truly appreciate our outstanding wine, cuisine, and the natural beauties of Brda. They mostly visit during the summer and tend to stay longer, which is fantastic for us. Now, with the new direct flight to Ljubljana, the potential of this market is even higher. It could mean an extended tourist season for us, stretching into the spring and late autumn months, especially for those looking for weekend getaways."

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