Ljubljana, 31 January 2018 – According to temporary SURS statistical data and Eurostat assessments, 2017 was again a record year for the Slovenian tourism. With over 4.7 million tourist arrivals and 11.9 million overnight stays, which denote 13% more arrivals and 11% more overnight stays than in 2016, the Slovenian tourism has greatly surpassed the average growth in Europe. In 2017, Slovenia received a record coverage in the media. Many ranked it among the most attractive destinations in the world. In addition, it received many important awards for sustainability and innovative marketing. 2018 has optimistically: with a clear vision of presenting Slovenia as a destination for 5-star experiences, which will increase added value and income from the export of travel.
Growth in tourism was above average in 2017
Temporary SURS statistical data for 2017 point to another exceptional year for the Slovenian tourism, which has recorded an increased growth in arrivals and overnight stays already for four consecutive years. In 2017, tourist accommodation facilities recorded over 4.7 million tourist arrivals and over 11.9 million overnight stays, which is 13% more arrivals and 11% more overnight stays than in 2016, of which foreign tourists generated almost 8 millions of all overnight stays by tourists (67%) or by 14% more than in 2016 and over 3.4 millions of tourist arrivals (+14% as per 2016). Domestic tourists generated over 3.9 million overnight stays (+3,5% in comparison to 2016) and over 1.3 million arrivals (+5,5%).
According to arrivals, the key markets were: Austria (10,5%), Italy (15,8%), Germany (10,9%), Croatia (5%), Serbia (3%) and the Russian Federation (1,5%). In comparison to 2016, the number of overnight stays also increased in 2017, from Germany (+26%), Italy (+6%), Croatia (+13%), Serbia (+8%), the Russian Federation (+25%) and Austria (+12%). The majority of overnight stays were generated in hotels – almost 7.2 millions or 60% of all overnight stays, followed by camping sites with 14%. According to the number of generated overnight stays, municipalities with spa facilities (27% or almost 3,3 millions) prevail, followed by coastal municipalities (20%), the Municipality of Ljubljana (12%) and mountain municipalities (26%).
The value of travel export was EUR 2.2 billion in the period January–November 2017, which is almost 9% more than in the same period in 2016.
Slovenia was above average
In 2017, tourism grew also at the global level, although not with such an intensity as in Slovenia. The data of the World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, reveal that last year’s results were the best in the last seven years: tourist arrivals at the international level grew by 7% (+17% in Slovenia) in the first ten months of 2017 and reached 1.322 billion. A 4–5% growth is forecast for 2018. Europe, internationally the most visited continent, attained an 8% growth in the first ten months of 2017 (671 million arrivals), which is substantially larger than in 2016. The countries which belong to the so-called Mediterranean group and which on average recorded a 13 % growth contributed greatly to the high growth rate. This group also includes Slovenia.
The comparison of international arrivals within Europe, prepared by the European Travel Commission (ETC), confirmed Slovenia’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. Among European countries, Slovenia recorded the largest growth in arrivals of Dutch tourists (before Lithuania and Cyprus; Croatia was in 8th place and Austria was 23rd); third largest growth in arrivals of German tourists (after Cyprus and Montenegro; Croatia was in 12th place and Austria was 26th); eighth largest growth in arrivals of French tourists (Croatia was in 13th place and Austria was 22nd) and British tourists (Croatia was in first place and Austria was 23rd) and ninth largest growth in arrivals of Russian tourists (Austria was in 14th place and Croatia was 24th).
In spite of the exceptional growth results in 2017, the forecast of tourist arrivals in Europe for 2018 remains conservative (3.6% growth), while a 4.2% growth in tourist arrivals at the global level is anticipated.
Statistics confirm high expectations
Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology:
"Statistical data on tourist visits in 2017 are satisfying since we speak about a double-digit growth in the number of arrivals and overnight stays. With no modesty, I must add that such numbers were expected. On this occasion, I sincerely congratulate the tourism industry, all the employees in hospitality and tourism, members of tourist associations and all other partners who contributed to these superb results. The data proves that Slovenia has establish itself as an attractive tourist destination. Growth in Slovenian tourism is not accidental, but the result of active measures of the Ministry and effective promotion implemented by the Slovenian Tourism Board in cooperation with the tourism industry and other stakeholders of Slovenian tourism. With joint forces, we will also attain good results in the future and improve the international competitiveness of the Slovenian tourism. We will prove to all who still doubt that tourism is a promising activity of the Slovenian economy."
Eva Štravs Podlogar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology:
"Data on tourist visits and income from the export of travel in 2017 are impressive and a stimulation for intensive work this year and also in the future. Our objective is a constant growth of tourism turnover, successful operations of tourism companies and an increase in the competitiveness of Slovenian tourism. The measures and activities are defined in the 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism, which includes clear objectives, guidelines and a vision. Further development of Slovenian tourism will be based on the concept of sustainable development, connectivity, cooperation, and high-quality services. In this way, we will succeed in realising the vision of Slovenia as an attractive tourist destination for 5-star experiences and the objective of the planned amount of income from foreign tourism. Whereby we wish to encourage domestic tourists to spend their holidays at home since the share of overnight stays by domestic tourists amounted to only 32% in 2017. This will be achieved by promoting innovative tourist products, which will offer experiences in various Slovenian destinations. The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology is making efforts to encourage creativity, innovation and integration of tourist providers, and to create a suitable business environment for the successful operation of the tourism sector. We are thus recasting legislation in the field of tourism. We have tackled the categorisation system of accommodation facilities, and we promote innovation and raise awareness of the importance of sustainable development. Extensive tasks lie ahead and I am certain that we will also be speaking about the record year of Slovenian tourism at the end of 2018. I thank all stakeholders of Slovenian tourism for successful cooperation so far and I also wish them a lot of positive energy and constructive cooperation in 2018."
Mag. Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board:
"In recent years, Slovenian tourism has attained a series of successes reflected in an increased number of arrivals and overnight stays, and also in the interest of foreign tour operators and the media. Such media attention and excitement over Slovenia, as was noticed last year by foreign, and particularly globally important and influential media, has never been seen before. The success is the result of excellent cooperation and dedicated work of all stakeholders of Slovenian tourism when forming the tourist offer and its promotion with a clear message of green, active and healthy Slovenia. Regardless of the achievements, numerous challenges are to be confronted, such as the development and marketing of a competitive, high-quality and distinguishing tourist offer of 5-star experiences that are based on sustainable principles. In this way, we will be able to attract demanding visitors and exceed their expectations, and have an effect on the better quality of life of our citizens."
Slovenia in the spotlight
Slovenia boasts attractive tourist products, innovative experiences in nature, new boutique hotels and glamping resorts. But that’s not all. In 2017, Slovenia was in the spotlight in various fields. Thanks to Ana Roš, the World's Best Female Chef for 2017, and other Slovenian top chefs, Slovenia is considered a hidden European gem when it comes to food and drinks; many media placed it alongside to the most established international cuisines. The phenomenon of Proteus in Postojna Cave created a story about a unique creature from the Karst underground world and highlighted the relation of people towards nature. Slovenia’s recognisability was further improved by success of our athletes, who promoted Slovenia as a country of unique active experiences. The appointment of Aleksander Čeferin as a President of the Union of European Football Associations also contributed to this.
2017 was major, thanks to hard work of the STB and Slovenian tourism industry!
Exceptional statistics, a number of awards and great exposure in the world’s most important media are also the reflection of various promotional activities carried out by the Slovenian Tourism Board and tourism industry in 2017. 2017 was one of the most successful and promotionally intensive years for the Slovenian Tourist Board, which attended and organised 140 business events in 30 countries around the world and held over 13,000 business meetings. While being concentrated on key markets, the promotion of Slovenian tourism was particularly intensified in the USA and France, the markets with outstanding potential. One of the most high-profile presentations of 2017 was the partnership with the world's leading travel trade show, ITB Berlin.
Various events intended for education and networking of the Slovenian tourism industry were also organised in Slovenia, i.e. Slovenian Incoming Workshop – SIW, which hosted tour operators from all over the world, a tourism panel within the framework of the Bled Strategic Forum and Days of Slovenian Tourism with a first tourism hackathon. In addition, various stakeholders of the Slovenian tourism concluded a Declaration for the sustainable growth of Slovenian tourism there. Slovenia also hosted a high-profile international event, i.e. the General Assembly of the Lufthansa City Center.
The global digital campaign, Slovenia. Make New Memories. reached over 117 million people in 21 countries. Furthermore, the first broadcast of the Tour of Slovenia cycling race on Eurosport reached 113 million viewers. Also the number of followers on social networks of the STB increased: on FB by 32%, on Instagram by 183% and on Twitter by 26%. In 2017, the STB implemented another campaign, i.e. Discover SLOVENIA, Europe‘s best-kept secret. Together with Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company for reservations, the STB held a campaign in order to boost the possibility of selecting Slovenia as a tourist destination for 5-star experiences and to also promote reservations in the low season.
In addition to increased digital activity, the STB prepared various activities with the ambassadors of Slovenian tourism, such as the best female chef in the world, Ana Roš, and many athletes. It issued digital catalogues and publications in 17 languages in 850,000 copies.
The STB promoted the development of sustainable and innovative products with higher added value with the following projects, the Sejalec and the Snovalec awards, EDEN and the Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, which now combines 46 holders of the Slovenia Green brand. To assist further promotion and marketing of Slovenia, the STB for its own needs and for the needs of the Slovenian tourism industry carried out a project of identifying the most attractive target groups, the so-called personas of Slovenian tourism and various educational workshops. The STB also participated in the drafting of the 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism.
Slovenia received a number of important international awards in 2017
Awards received in 2017 also contributed to Slovenia’s recognisability as a green, active and healthy destination. The STB received the prestigious award, National Geographic World Legacy Destination Leadership for sustainable management of a destination and The Golden City Gate 2017 for the promotional video Slovenia. Make New Memories. Flight Network, one of the leading online travel agencies from Canada, declared the STB as one of the best tourist organisations in the world. The Association of Travel Journalists of Slovenia also recognised the significant contribution of the STB in increasing Slovenia’s recognisability and awarded it the Crystal Triglav 2017, the award for supreme achievements in Slovenian tourism.
Individual destinations also received various recognitions and awards. Visit Ljubljana received the prestigious WTM Responsible Tourism Award in London in the category Best for Communication. For the third time, Ljubljana was among the Global TOP 100 Sustainable Destinations, while Bled was declared the best ice-cream destination in the world. National Geographic put the idyllic image of the lake with the island on the cover of its latest catalogue of exclusive travels, National Geographic Private Jet Expeditions 2017–2018.
Great media coverage in 2017
In 2017, Slovenia enjoyed great coverage in global media; the value of their releases is estimated at over 10 million Euro. The media response is the result of intensive work of the STB and its partners, who hosted over 400 journalists and digital influencers in 2017.
A great number of high-profile media wrote about Slovenia as a tourist destination in 2017, with a special emphasis on our gastronomy and Ana Roš, the World's Best Female Chef 2017. Conde Nast Traveler, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Forbes, Financial Times, CNN, National Geographic Traveller, Vogue, Huffington Post, La Parisienne, Madame Le Figaro, La Repubblica and others wrote about Slovenia and described it as Europe’s best kept secret. In 2017, Travel + Leisure nominated Slovenia for the Destination of the Year and placed it among the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2018. The most famous travel guide, Lonely Planet, placed the Julian Alps in third place on the list of top ten regions recommended for travel in 2018. Bloomberg marked Slovenia as the next Iceland and a destination worth visiting in 2018.
The objective is to create products of higher added value
The key objectives of the 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism are to increase recognisability and promote Slovenia as a green, active and healthy destination for 5-star boutique experiences, increase an added value of tourism and income from the export of travels, focus on demanding visitors seeking high-quality diverse and active experiences, tranquillity and personal benefits, form innovative products of higher added value based on sustainable development, deseasonalisation, geographical dispersion of tourist flows, provision of suitable and motivated staff, improvement of flight connections and accessibility, enhanced investments and modernisation of the infrastructure.
The Slovenian Tourist Board puts the activities for the establishment of a new system of macro-destinations into forefront. The reason for establishing the macro-destinations system is to boost promotion and development of Slovenia, develop green and innovative products with higher added value, enhance the I feel Slovenia brand and focus on key markets and target groups. The STB aims to implement a clear, target-oriented, intensive modern promotion with the main focus on digital content marketing, for which almost 40% of its budget is earmarked in 2018. This will upgrade Slovenia’s visibility on social networks and in important media. Through TripAdvisor, Facebook and Instagram, the STB will implement a special campaign, whose aim is to reach one-day and transit visitors. Great attention will also be dedicated to press and social media influencer trips. In individual markets, digital marketing will supplement classical marketing, such as the advertising campaign on the high-profile Austrian TV channel, ORF 2, and on billboards in the Vienna underground.
According to Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, the Sustainable Tourism Development Act will be of great help with the promotion of Slovenia as a tourist destination:
"The Act will comprehensively govern the promotion of tourism development. A very important novelty for further development of tourism is a special promotional fee which will finance the Slovenian Tourism Board in order to market and promote comprehensive Slovenian tourist offer. This will be a long-term and stable source of financing, which will contribute to further growth of the tourism turnover. Tourism development at the level of a tourist area will continue to be the responsibility of municipalities. To this end, the Act anticipates financial resources to promote tourism development. The possibility to increase tourist tax will enable municipalities to plan tourism development more ambitiously. The conditions for implementing the activity of organising and selling tourist packages will be very simplified with regards to the applicable Act. While observing the provisions of Directive (EU) 2015/2302, certain exceptions are also determined, for which the proposed arrangements do not apply, and which will resolve current complications regarding the implementation of school excursions, associations’ trips and similar. The proposed act also regulates the vocation of a tourist guide and conditions, which a tourist guide must meet. Tourist guiding at the level of a tourist area is also regulated. All of the above will contribute to suitable presentation of our natural and cultural heritage and thus also its suitable evaluation within the tourist offer."
The Slovenian Tourist Board to participate in over a hundred events in 2018
In 2018–2019, the special emphasis is put on the promotion of cultural tourism, according to the Operational Marketing Plan for Cultural Tourism in Slovenia, which defines its key icons and activities. The STB will promote cultural tourism through various promotional tools and also at numerous events, organised in cooperation with Slovenian tourist industry. In 2018, the STB intends to participate at about one hundred fairs, shows, workshops and other presentations around the globe, e.g. in South Korea during the Olympic Games, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, China, and Japan. The STB will attend the following events: BIT Milan, f.re.e Munich, ITB Berlin, MITT Moscow, ATM Dubai, IMEX Frankfurt, Virtuoso Travel Week Las Vegas, IFTM TOP RESA Paris, TTG Incontri Rimini, Photo+Adventure Vienna, WTM London, IBTM Barcelona and many others.
In addition, the STB will also participate at high-profile events in Slovenia, in January this was Conventa, the Slovenian Incoming Workshop in May, Bled Strategic Forum and I FEEL SLOVENIA IRONMAN 70.3 Slovenian Istria, Days of Slovenian Tourism in autumn and many other. In 2018, Slovenia will be in the spotlight also thanks to being the first proposer of the World Bee Day and as an organiser of the prestigious international Golf Travel Market, one of the largest business events to be held in Slovenia in 2018.