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Bled Strategic Forum to discuss tourism challenges

Bled, 2 September - As Slovenia's tourism is looking to break new records this year, the challenges of the sector will also be discussed at the country's top international foreign political event, the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF), next week.

Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Maja Pak, the head of the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO), pinpointed collaborative economy and the need to offer higher value added among the top challenges.

In July, 1.9 million tourist overnight stays were recorded, which is 13% more than in July 2016. The number of tourist arrivals increased by 15% to 672,000.

Tourist facilities recorded more than 6.6 million overnight stays in the first seven months of the year or 12% more than in the same period last year.

This year, the need for active strategic and operative management of destinations arose, according to Pak, along with the need for sustainable development, products with higher value added, dispersion of guests across the entire country and all seasons of the year, and managing of the visitors' experience.

"We're well aware of these challenges in the Slovenian tourism, which is why they were included in the strategy for sustainable growth of the Slovenian tourism in 2017-2021," Pak said.

In the coming years, the STO will focus on promoting Slovenia as a first-class global green destination for demanding visitors, who are looking for diverse and active experiences, tranquillity and personal gains, and on promoting sustainable tourism.

This year's tourism panel at the BSF will be hosted by the STO together with the Economic Development and Technology Ministry on Tuesday. Several respected Slovenian and foreign experts will present the model of collaborative economy, which brings many challenges also to the Slovenian tourism sector.

"The fact is that the world is changing, it is changing rapidly, the consumer habits are changing and digitalisation is calling for new business models in tourism," Pak said.

She pointed to the growing number of platforms connecting the demand and supply, which are entering the market of providers of accommodation, tourist agencies, guides, taxi drivers and restaurants.

"These new platforms bringing new services and experiences are a challenge to the tourism industry. All this is a really for the Slovenian tourism too and this is what the tourism panel in Bled will focus on," Pak said.

The debate entitled "The collaborative economy: sharing, cooperation or simply business?" will feature Christian de Barrin, CEO of HOTREC - Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes in Europe from Belgium and Klemens Himpele, head of Municipal Department for Economic Affairs, Labour and Statistics at City of Vienna, Austria.

Janja Hojnik, professor at the Faculty of Law in Maribor, and Economy Ministry State Secretary Eva Štravs Podlogar will also present their views.

The opening addresses will be delivered by Economy Minister Zdraveko Počivalšek, Pak and the CEO of the marketing agency Toposophy from Greece, Manolis Psarros.

© STA, 2017