Slovenia at WTM London
Slovenia at WTM London
Culture at the forefront of this year's presentation of Slovenia at the most important tourism trade show on earth, the World Travel Market (WTM) in London.
WTM London 2018, one of the most important and globally acclaimed travel market events, took place 5 to 7 November. 36 Slovenian companies and institutions under the auspices of the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) presented themselves to the British and global tourist expert public as an attractive destination for five-star experiences. A special emphasis was given to cultural events – for two years, cultural tourism has been and will be at the forefront of the STB's promotional activities. In addition, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) has won gold at the WTM International Travel & Tourism Award in the "Best in Wellness" category.
36 companies, 176.5 m2, culture in the forefront
From 5 to 7 November, Slovenia traditionally presented itself at the World Travel Market (WTM) London, one of the most important international travel market events in the world. As many as 36 companies and institutions presented themselves at the Slovenian stand covering 176.5 m2 in the context of the central two-year theme of cultural tourism. This year's presentation focused on the country as boutique destination for cultural tourism experiences.
On this occasion, Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, emphasised: "Slovenian tourism, despite its exceptional growth, which is significantly above the EU average, still has a lot of opportunities for improvement. These are to be found primarily in optimising the operation of state-owned hotels, providing high-quality staff, and in integrating tourism providers, destinations and products. Such developments are still not strong enough to establish a truly excellent five-star hospitality programme. Slovenia’s natural features enable us to provide our guests with a green, active and healthy experience every day of the year. The country has made enormous efforts to build its reputation as tourist destination and promote itself on foreign markets, so I expect the next step will be made by tourist service providers. This year is being celebrated as the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and we are provided with an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of the esteem we have achieved. Our second-largest city, Maribor, was named European Capital of Culture in 2012. Accordingly, Maribor should connect with other European Capitals of Culture and together they should create a unique tourist product. All of Slovenia will benefit from such development, in particular from the visits of those guests who come from distant travel markets and visit Slovenia only for a short time."
Visitors at the Slovenian exhibition stand got to know Slovenia as an authentic yet modern destination of five-star experiences through demonstrations of cultural tourism, increasingly recognisable gastronomic experiences offered by our country, unique accommodations and the rich selection of active experiences. Cultural tourism has been and will be at the forefront of the STO's promotional activities both in 2018 and 2019.
At the presentation of Slovenia as an attractive destination of cultural experiences at this year's WTM London, Msc Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, said:
"At this year’s WTM London, Slovenia is showcased as an excellent destination of authentic and boutique experiences in cultural tourism. WTM, as one of the most important and globally acclaimed travel markets, offers a unique opportunity to consolidate the existing business opportunities and forge new ones, as well as to create networks with the tourism industry in the United Kingdom and beyond. British guests know how to appreciate the authenticity of our country, the close connection with local providers, the authenticity of experiences, the pristine contact with nature and the departure from mass tourism. From January to the end of August, we recorded 27 percent more British visitors in Slovenia than in the same period last year, which is also the result of STB’s many activities in this important emitting market."
Ljubljana Castle and the creative presentation of the dragon
The main partner at the Slovenian exhibition stand was Ljubljana Castle with its attractive and creative presentation of the dragon from the Dragon Bridge and a rich artistic programme. By linking the rich cultural heritage with attractive tourist products, Ljubljana Castle successfully communicated with modern visitors seeking authentic cultural experiences.
"Ljubljana castle is the most frequently visited tourist hotspot in Slovenia, so we were pleased to participate as the main partner of the Slovenian Tourist Board at this year's WTM London, as cultural tourism is at the forefront of the STO's promotional activities during the period 2018/2019. Ljubljana castle presents its unique and interesting interpretation of the cultural heritage in diverse experiences, offered to its visitors through six permanent installations, on guided tours enhancing the visitor experience, and at more than five hundred events per year, making this tourist attraction the capital’s vibrant cultural and social hub, including its excellent culinary offerings and wine selection, while always highlighting the importance of sustainable tourism. With an attractive appearance at the word travel market event, we want to consolidate the leading position among the providers of cultural and touristic experiences in Slovenia, as we can provide even the most demanding visitor with a diverse and high-quality experience at Ljubljana Castle", stressed Mateja Avbelj Valentan, Director of Ljubljana castle.
Brunch, whole lot of fun and awards
On Tuesday, 6 November,a get-together brunch took place at the Slovenian stand. Numerous representatives of the Slovenian tourist industry and representatives of British and global tour operators, as well as the global media (BBC, Independent, the Guardian, Telegraph), were there. On this occasion, a renowned Slovenian chef, Igor Jagodic, prepared selected dishes, while visitors also had a chance to take photographs with traditionally-dressed characters taken from Slovenian history and to compete for rich awards for the best posts on Twitter.
The STB also presented awards to those that have greatly contributed to the visibility of Slovenia in the UK market:
- UK Travel Trade Writer of the Year: Laura French from Travel Weekly.Co.UK,
- UK Influencer of the Year: Huw Richards – the author of HuwsNursery, who inspires with articles on sustainable life for future generations,
- UK Journalist of the Year: Robin McKelvie, whose writing plays a major role in promoting Slovenia as a tourist destination.
The profile of British guests
British guests in Slovenia appreciate in particular the authenticity of the destination, the close relationship with local providers and authentic experiences.
They most frequently ask for holidays in the mountains, gastronomic delights, outdoor relaxation, skiing, cultural experiences and city visits. Higher-income British guests appreciate in particular the authenticity of the destination and the close relationship with local providers, whether they are on an active holiday or enjoying gastronomic experiences. Slovenia impresses them through contact with pristine nature at every step and a departure from mass tourism.
British guests with medium and high purchasing power express an increasing demand for tourist arrangements organised by tour operators with an emphasis on luxury and tailor-made experiences.
Photos: Nino Verdnik, Slovenian Tourist Board