The Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) again ranks among the best tourism boards in the world. At Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas Slovenia was pronounced the Hottest Destination of the Year. What is more, the association's agents from around the world nominated the STB for the coveted 2019 Virtuoso Tourism Board Award.
At Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, the annual meeting of the members of Virtuoso, a leading global association in the luxury and boutique travel industry, Slovenia was pronounced the Hottest Destination of the Year. What is more, the association's agents from around the world nominated the STB for the coveted 2019 Virtuoso Tourism Board Award. As well as in 2018, the list of the nominated national tourist boards included Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland, which won the title.
“We are thrilled that Virtuoso members have proclaimed Slovenia the Hottest Destination of the Year, thus showing a special recognition of Slovenian tourism's focus on sustainability and boutique, unique, personalized 5-star experiences. We are also proud of the nomination for the Best National Tourism Board, as it is voted by the agents from around the world who on regular basis meet a wide range of providers. Virtuoso has repeatedly highlighted the work of the STB as an example of good practice and recommended Slovenia to its members. Acknowledgments by organizations that focus on boutique and sustainable tourism prove that we are consistent in promoting and developing sustainable offer for demanding guests," said Msc. Maja Pak, the Director of the STB.
The prizes were awarded at Virtuoso Travel Week, the key annual business event, which this year takes places from 10 to 16 August in Las Vegas and brings together more than 6,000 tourism professionals. The STB participates for the third year in a row, along with Visit Ljubljana and Luxury Slovenia. During the course of the event, over 230 individual meetings with Virtuoso members as well as a round-table discussion on the topic of over-tourism will be held, where Msc. Petra Stušek, the Director of Visit Ljubljana, will present Slovenia's measures to tackle one of the biggest problems of modern tourism. The discussion will be covered by some of the most renowned media from the field of tourism and lifestyle, such as AFAR, Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Wall Street Journal.
In Las Vegas, Slovenia is presented as a green boutique destination for 5-star experiences targeting demanding guests. Sustainable tourism is also one of the main themes of the Virtuoso Travel Week. Among other things, the first sustainably oriented event called Under One Sky was held, in order to remind the Virtuoso members that each person can help keep the planet green. Virtuoso also urged the members to make a positive impact on the planet through travel and tourism.
This autumn, the STB will launch a training programme on Slovenia, which will be accessible to Virtuoso agents through the Virtuoso Travel Academy platform. Since 2017, since Slovenia has been a member of Virtuoso, a significant growth (more than 70 %) of hotel accommodation and air tickets sales to Slovenia through Virtuoso agents has been seen.
Virtuoso pays considerable attention to Slovenia. In December 2017, the cover of Virtuoso Traveler fetured an image of the idyllic Lake of Bled with the caption "Slovenia: Europe's Rising Star", followed by the inclusion on the list of the 18 top destinations to visit in January 2018. Earlier this year, Slovenia was again listed among the top five sustainable European regions, highlighting its alpine pearls and its commitment to sustainable management of the environmental wealth and the preservation of culinary and cultural heritage.
Next to Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and Switzerland, the STB was among the Virtuoso nominees for the 2018 National Tourism Board. Last November, it was selected to participate in the Virtuoso Chairman's Event, reserved only for the members achieving the best results and services. The event was held in Venice, and Slovenia, as a partner of the event, was introduced itself to around 200 participants as a boutique destination for unique experiences in the upper-income segment.
As part of this year's Slovenian Incoming Workshop, the STB organized a fam trip for Virtuoso agents, to get them more acquainted with Slovenian tourist offer and destinations. They travelled through the whole country and visited the providers who bear the quality brand Slovenia Unique Experiences.
Virtuoso is the leading global travel network in luxury tourism, comprising more than 20,000 travel advisors, agents and partners from 1000 agencies and companies. They come from 50 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East. The network provides different education opportunities to its members, participation at networking events, and communication channels to address end users. The majority of the agencies in the network comes from the USA, which is also the biggest market within Virtuoso network. Virtuoso works with 1,800 selected preferred partners from around the world (hotels, tour operators, destinations, national tourism boards etc.), offering their customers exclusive benefits, out-of-the-box adventure opportunities and privileged access to tourism services. In 2018, Virtuoso members ensured over $26.4 billion of travel revenues, which is 11% more than in 2017.
The USA is one of the key markets for Slovenian tourism. In 2018, over 138,486 arrivals were generated, or almost 12 % more than in 2017, which ranked them12th according to the number of arrivals to Slovenia. They also ranked 12th in terms of overnight stays, generating 314,862 overnight stays (almost 24 % more than in 2017). The average length of stay is 2.27 days. Most overnights were made at health resorts (41%) and mountain municipalities (38 %). By types of accommodation, hotels and similar establishments were the first place (61 %), while campsites and other outdoor accommodation providers came second (36 %). In the first six months of 2019, guests from the US generated 12 % more arrivals and overnight stays than in the same period last year, ranking them 9th among countries in both arrivals and overnight stays. The upward trend in US arrivals and overnight stays continues since 2009.