What kind of challenges does being the 2012 European Capital of Culture (ECC) bring for Maribor’s Tourism industry?
The ECC title definitely poses the challenge of lifting Maribor’s profile as a destination. At the same time it is an opportunity for linking different European cultures and increasing cultural creativity. From the regional point of view it also presents an excellent opportunity for linking municipalities and fostering their mutual co-operation. This sort of an event can increase the profile of the city of Maribor and offers the opportunity for local cultural workers and performers to present themselves to a much wider audience. The cultural scene that is a main part of the project’s framework is another reason for increased numbers of tourists visiting the town.
In terms of hoteliers and as a tourist destination, how did you get yourselves ready for the event?
The company Terme Maribor, d.d. has been preparing for the ECC event by offering various tourist packages, promotions on the website, distributing promotional materials to different European towns and cities, PR articles and many more initiatives. We also formed a project group that is in constant contact with the Public Institute and their marketing team. In addition to that we also put together a special brochure covering our complete offer of various types of accommodation available and different packages that have been developed especially for the ECC. Alongside this we have also been implementing various sales activities for specific target groups at home and abroad: foreign universities, schools, student clubs, associations, institutions etc., for which the ECC programme can be a motive for visiting the town of Maribor and we are in a position to offer them our services.
What do you think will be direct and indirect effects of being the ECC?
We will be analysing these at the end of 2012.
After the first two months can you tell us of some tangible results? How many congresses and other events have already been generated by the ECC?
City hotels Uni, Orel and Piramida have seen some increase in overnight bookings thanks to various events connected to the ECC, like Carmina Slovenica, choir Choregie, the Lent Festival, the Borštnik meeting, the chess championship, la Folia orchestra, the Swedish choir, the international choir competition and other events. In total we have recorded some 4,000 overnight stays so far, which only includes organised groups of performers, whereas we are expecting an increase of at least 50% in the number of overnight stays for individual guests. We believe that at the end of the ECC event we will have seen an overall increase in our city hotels because of the increased number of cultural events, with some 10% to 20% increase in the number of overnight stays generated by cultural groups and individual guests.
What will remain in Maribor when the project comes to an end?
Lots of memories of excellent shows and events: Festival Lent, Borštnik … and Maribor having been an European Capital of Culture!