When staying in Slovenia an average tourist spends about 100 EUR per day in high season. And the tourism there seems to be blooming lately. Who or what holds the credit for that? It could be the local businesses or great marketing done by Slovenian tourists’ organisation. It seems it’s not all rainbows and sunshine and there could be some problems ahead for SLOVEnia.

‘’There is our house. The tourist farm Arkade. Behind it is a vegetable garden and behind it vineyards. Next to them is a barn with a lot of pigs and a few dozen kopuns. Behind the barn there is fenced pasture for Mangalica pigs. And above them there is a fenced hill where cattle Angus are grazing. What we offer to our guests is really domestic.’’

Silva Cigoj

Silva Cigoj still gets carried away, as she talks about their home business, the tourist farm Arcade. It’s only one out of 191 tourist farms in Slovenia. And there are a lot more accommodations such as hotels, hostels, apartments, camps, options of glamping or one can simply couch surf. ‘’Our story started almost 30 years ago with my parents in law. In 1989 they renovated the oldest house in the village, which was built in 1811. Since then we have had some bumps in the road, but lately the business has been blooming,’’ Cigoj goes one. She points out, that for a small business, as themselves, is a lot easier when the community is working together toward a common goal. The fertile, wine-rich Vipava Valley stretches southeast from Nova Gorica. It’s a place to tour by car or bike, with outstanding gourmet treatsand idyllic rural scenery. ‘’Here the people are good-hearted. On our mouths and in our hearts we always carry a smile. It’s where a tourist can feel it all– the love, culture, food and the beautiful nature,’’ as Cigoj presents their surroundings. And that conveniently fits with the official Slovenian tourists’organisation (STO) – I feel Slovenia and their brand.

Feel Green, Active and Healthy Slovenia!

‘Slovenia is the first country in the world to be declared a green destination based on the Green Destinations Criteria. Situated in the heart of Europe, Slovenia is a boutique country between the Alps, Mediterranean Sea, mysterious Karst with more than 11,000 karst caves and Pannonian Plain, rich in healthy water springs,’ as they describe Slovenia on their website. Their head of Corporate PR Department Livija Kovač Kostantinovič stated that they ‘’try to paint a full picture of Slovenia, suitable for any kind of tourists. Whether you are travelling alone or with your family, during winter or summer, if you are craving adventure or simply came to relax, we have it all.’’ She says that that is why they fell in love with their country and would like to show it to the world in all its beauty.

‘’In Slovenia, you can swim in the sea in the morning and climb mountains in theafternoon.’’

STO

Cigoj mentioned that they get support from municipality and the STO, mostly by tenders and working on projects. On February 15th 2018 the National Assembly passed a law on tourism promotion. “The Act sets out activities for the implementation of the tourism development strategy at the state level and at the level of the tourist area, defines the role of the state, municipalities, tourism service providers and civil society, and sets out the necessary financing sources for this,” said State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology Eva Štravs Podlogar at that time.

As the data from Republic of Slovenia Statistical Office shows Slovenian tourism has been growing since 2010. 2016 was the first year they counted more than 11 million overnights. Most tourist arrivals (22%)were recorded in the Gorenjska statistical region (up in the mountains).

Overnight stays in Slovenia

59% of all tourists stay in a hotel, 13% in camps, 8% in apartments and 20% use other accommodation facilities.

Accommodation facilities in Slovenia

Also the government accepted the Strategy of sustainable growth of Slovenian tourism 2017 – 2021. Their goals are to increase tourist visits from 5 up to 5.5 million, have 16–18 million overnights, lengthen the average stay to 3.1–3.4 days, open 18,000 to 22,000 new tourist rooms and increase full-time employment in the tourism sector from 8,000 to 12,000 employees.

More than 423,000 tourist arrivals and almost 1.1 million tourist overnight stays were recorded in October 2018. Foreign tourists generated 70% of all tourist overnight stays. Overall most foreign tourists who come to Slovenia are from Italy, in October 2018 Austria. Health (spa) resorts were the most visited.

It may have something to do with Slovenia receiving a golden award at WTM International Travel & Tourism Awards in the category »Best in Wellness« for the Healthy waters campaign. Kovač Kostantinovič emphasized that ‘’here at the STO we are all really proud of our achievements. We have worked hard to get where we are today. We’ve got the prestigious title European Region of Gastronomy 2021, Best  in Wellness 2018, were proclaimed in 2016 as the first Green country in the world and those are just some of them.’’ And it is not just the advocates for the country, who are amazed by Slovenia; it’s the visitors as well.

‘’The best time to visit Slovenia is now.  It’s a gem!  The truth is that most backpacker/travelers haven’t discovered it yet.  So, enjoy it before the crowds arrive,’’ 

wrote a blogger Melissa Giroux

But is it really? If Slovenia’s goal is to attract more and more tourists, will it still be a ‘gem’? There are a lot of negative consequences as well that could come with growing of tourism. Pollution, the collapse of social ties, gentrification,endangering the ecological system, raising prices just to name a few.

Audrey, a visitor of Lake Bled had a rather unpleasant experience. ‘’We’ve visited in the off season and at the end of the day we’ve found out there were not enough buses to transfer everyone from Lake Bled back to Ljubljana. We weren’t able to get on one bus because it was full, so we waited an hour and a half for the next one. By then, more day trippers like us had gathered, and once again not everyone could get on the bus, leaving a lot of people stranded having to find a taxi or other alternative. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and many visitors with prepaid tickets were visibly upset. Lake Bled has experienced a boom in tourism but the infrastructure to transport people hasn’t quite caught up yet. After a nice day visiting Bled, getting out of there proved to be very chaotic and stressful. Hopefully things will change in the future.‘’

Lake Bled

Can Slovenia keep up with the growth? Kovač Kostantinovič answers that they are trying to do their best but it doesn’t all depend on the STO. Buses for example are in control of public companies and for some part municipalities. ‘’We can only try to guide and coordinate everyone in this ‘chain’,’’ she emphasizes. 

Regardless of pros and cons, most travel enthusiasts say that Slovenia should be on your travel bucket list. Or as Håndbagage puts it:

‘’Although I would really rather keep it all for myself, I truly believe you all should give it a try once in your lifetime. Be careful! It’s a love affair you won’t easily let go.’’