Slovenia's tourism up in global competitiveness ranking

Slovenia is up five spots in the latest biannual global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, standing at 36th place among the 140 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek commented on the improvement by saying that Slovenia was on the right track in the field of tourism.

Piran. Photo:

In the 2019 survey, Slovenia scored an average of 4.3 out of seven points based on assessments in 14 elements of competitiveness in four key categories - enabling environment, tourism policy and enabling conditions, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources; two years ago, it placed 41st among 136 countries, down two spots from the 2015 survey, scoring an average of 4.18 points.

Slovenia fared the best in environmental sustainability, placing 8th, while standing in 15th place in terms of security. In infrastructure of road and maritime transport, the country is 20th, in natural resources in 26th, in tourism infrastructure in 27th and in importance of tourism in 33rd place.
In the field of tourism policy and the state of conditions for development, Slovenia placed 18th, which the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) mostly attributes to the growth in importance of tourism.Minister Počivalšek said as he commented on the report, that it proved Slovenia was on the right track. "We have an adequate strategy, good tourist services and rich natural and cultural heritage, which facilitates a successful sustainable development of tourism."

The minister is the most proud of the report noting that Slovenia "remains the most competitive economy in the subregion". Spain, France and Germany remain on the top of the travel and tourism competitiveness rankings, followed by Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.

Panel urges addressing tourism growth through good management

Tourism is a fast-growing industry, where challenges are abundant. The issue of excessive growth was highlighted as one of them at a panel held as part of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) on September 3rd with panellists agreeing excessive tourism should be addressed through adequate management, tailored to each individual destination.

Good management is possible only through know-how and cooperation, the panellists stressed at the panel themed Tourism for All Destinations: Dispersal over Place and Time. Slovenian Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek noted that tourism is an important part of the Slovenian economy. 2018 was another record year for Slovenian tourism and the trend continued in the first eight months of this year, he said ahead of the panel.

Much like the panellists, he highlighted excessive tourism growth as a major challenge. Digitalisation has created new services, information travels faster, travelling has become cheaper and more accessible, he said. "We need know-how and skills to address these challenges." Maja Pak, the head of the Slovenian Tourist Board, offered Bled, the town hosting the BSF, as a textbook example of an iconic destination that everyone wants to visit to take a photo and put it on social media.

Daniela Wagner, regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at the PATA travel association, said people visit the so-called Instagram destinations, because they had been heavily promoted. It is therefore up to tourist organisations to promote other, less exposed destinations.

Wagner believes the destinations which have a clear long-term vision built on solid foundations are more likely to achieve sustainable tourism growth and prevent excessive tourism. She thinks Slovenia is doing very well in addressing these challenges. Slovenian Economy Ministry State Secretary Eva Štravs Podlogar argued that Slovenia succeeded by building on know-how and connectivity, but that there was a lot more potential, which could be unleashed if all stakeholders worked together.

Tanja Mihalič, a professor at the School of Economics and Business at the University of Ljubljana, stressed that numbers were not the only indicator of excessive tourism. Locals and tourists will say when a destination becomes too crowded and loses appeal, she said. Valeria Duflot, co-founder and CEO of Venezia Autentica and Overtourism Solution from Italy, said Venice was close to reaching that point. Locals do not benefit from tourism much, and the experience is not pleasant for tourists either. They do not stay long in Venice, they do not take the time to enjoy the food, history.

Andrew Agius Muscat, secretary general of the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation from Malta, argued that tourism was good news. When people talk about tourism, they put political and religious differences aside and look for opportunities for cooperation, he said. Tourists are not a problem but protagonists for good stories.

Text by: Vesna Žarkovič