Economic and tourism cooperation in focus as Han visits Carinthia

Klagenfurt, 11 September - Economic and tourism cooperation opportunities were discussed as Economy, Tourism and Sport Minister Matjaž Han visited Carinthia on Monday, meeting Governor Peter Kaiser and Slovenian minority representatives. Kaiser and Han also talked about the possibility of Slovenia and Austria co-hosting the 2034 Winter Olympics.

Han started his trip in Dobrla Vas/Eberndorf, the ministry said in a press release, adding that he met minority representatives, among others, the owner of furniture retailer Rutar, which employs over 750 people, over half of them in Slovenia.

The Slovenian Business Association (SGZ) presented Han with a symbolic cheque for EUR 60,000, donations collected in a charity campaign after parts of Slovenia were hit by devastating floods. The minister said that such gestures strengthened ties between people on both sides of the border.

Talks with Kaiser focused on economic and touristm cooperation, with the Economy Ministry noting in the press release that Austria was one of Slovenia's top trade partners. It added that Han would be visiting Vienna in early October.

Last year, trade between Slovenia and Austria amounted to EUR 8.38 billion, with the state of Carinthia accounting for 10%. The press release said that border regions accounted for 30% of Slovenia's trade with the neighbouring countries.

"It is a fact that we are very important to each other, as nearly 1,150 Austrian companies are employing over 20,000 people in Slovenia," the minister was quoted as saying.

Han and Kaiser talked about the possibility of Slovenia and Austria co-hosting the Winter Olympics in 2034. "The idea is that Slovenia, Austria and perhaps Italy would join forces and offer their existing, good-quality and internationally-tested infrastructure to host the Winter Olympics," Han was quoted as saying.

Han moreover talked to Kaiser about the problems of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia. "Their rights are clear, but the minority still faces quite a few challenges," the minister said.

He also pointed to the problems created by Austria's border checks, which have been in place since 2015. He expressed confidence that the measure would be abolished soon.

Both Han and Kaiser expressed satisfaction that a second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, a key link between the two countries, is to be finished soon.

The minister also met representatives of the Slovenian Sports Association, an umbrella organisation for Slovenian and bilingual sports societies in Carinthia. A working lunch was dedicated to discussing potential joint projects in sports and tourism, like a mountain biking route from the Alps to Piran on the Slovenian sea coast.

© STA, 2023