Interview with ALEŠ KRIŽNAR – the first man of the championship

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”300px” height=”” background_color=”#95a513″ border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]The Championship was attended by 331,000 basketball fans, including more than 55,000 foreign visitors.[/dropshadowbox]

Q: How do you evaluate EuroBasket a month after the project has closed and as the first real reactions to the project have now been collected?
Reviews are currently the same as at the end of the competition, when we were in all areas extremely satisfied. We are still at the stage of accounts, compilation of reports and detailed analysis that will demonstrate more detailed and probably more interesting numbers and data. One of the most important tasks is also the composition of the financial report, which will give an answer to the question of whether we have diverted the EuroBasket 2013 into positive figures or not. If all the arrangements adopted prior to the event are kept, then the financial picture should be a good one.

Prior to the event you set targets of 250,000 viewers and some 30,000 foreign fans in hotels. Have you achieved this goal?
The Championship was attended by 331,000 basketball fans, including more than 55,000 foreign visitors. According to the last two European Championships we had more visits, especially taking into account the capacity of the hall, and we are also extremely proud of the campaign of distribution of free tickets to Slovenian primary schools, whose aim it was to achieve wider social effects. EuroBasket 2013 was viewed for free by 15,000 primary school pupils from more than 150 elementary schools.

Q: What is the estimated cost of the organisation of such a championship?
The cost will be just over 10 million Euros, but the exact number will be known after the completion of the financial report.

Q: Have all of the obligations of co-financing by the public partners been met at the time of the interview?
Not yet. We are still waiting for some arrangements and responses and for some funds, municipalities under the previous agreement that has been reached and the contract will be paid in the next two years. At the same time one of the objectives will also be fulfilled, that we will be able to repay all of our partners and subcontractors, of which there are over 300.

Q: What are the financial effects of the championships not only tied to its organisation? Will the target of €40 million of revenue from tourism be reached?
We have never said that €40 million of revenue will be only in the tourism industry, but rather that there will be between €38 and 42 million of revenue in different areas. Even before the start of the championships, we agreed with the Faculty of Economics to develop for us a cost-benefit analysis, which will give us answers to many questions in relation to income in various fields.

Q: What will be the long-term legacy of the EuroBasket?
One of the legacies is the renewed Jesenice and Koper hall, in which Slovenian athletes will now have better working and competing conditions. In addition, such facilities can also be used for other purposes, for example for cultural and musical events, and ultimately also for business events. The legacy is also the organisational “know-how” – people who were involved in this event have acquired invaluable knowledge and experience in organising large events, including for example the 1,100 volunteers who were the heart and soul of this championship. I also hope that the other organisers will see the potential and the chance to benefit from our collective expertise in various fields. Linked to this is the proof that the international sporting public has received, that small Slovenia with an extremely limited budget can prepare an extremely well organised event, one that recognises our domestic and foreign public as well as distinguished guests, including many years of experience with basketball events. And finally, but perhaps the most important, the promotion of basketball and sports among young people as a way of healthy living. After EuroBasket 2013, interest in the sport and specifically entry into the basketball schools throughout Slovenia has seen a massive increase.

Q: You often mention the multiplier effects of the championships, which are comparable to the effects of large international congresses. How will you measure them and ensure comparability of the data?
These effects will be measured with a variety of analyses that we do ourselves or in collaboration with our partners. They can only be compared to data known to us or to publicly available information.

Q: How valuable was your co-operation with the Slovenian tourism industry during the championship?
With the Government Communication Office, we have co-operated from the candidacy, since this was closely related to the support of the Government and the assistance in obtaining the championships. We began to work intensively with GCO and Spirit agency before the start of 2013, when we first visited the WTM in London, and later also the other major trade shows and fairs in Europe, with a major role played by the tourist bureaus of hosting cities and the directorate of tourism, but not forgetting the Slovenian Embassies in places that we have visited because they were extremely helpful, among other things with the provision of space in the media. All these entities have significantly contributed to the fact that Slovenia received more than 55,000 visitors, of which as many as 68% of those who had come came solely for the purpose of EuroBasket 2013 and otherwise would not be seen in our country. The promotional part, during the championship, was taken over by other tourism subjects that have to take care of the hospitality, and I think they did it well. Now, everyone in Slovenian tourism has to nurture this positive impact and even upgrade it in the future. I hope that they will succeed.

Q: During the championship did Slovenia turn out as a welcoming destination and one that did not set out to benefit from unjustified price increases?We have the experience and the data from the Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania, as well as from the Football Championship in Poland and Ukraine, where the hoteliers, restaurant owners and other tourism stakeholders unjustifiably increased prices, but the effect has not been as good as they would have liked. For us it did not happen, or only minimally. The fact is that with the big competition, there is always going to be an increase in service prices, but if these are controlled, there is no disagreement among the foreigners who bring bad promotion of the country. We were following publications in the media, listened to the opinion of the foreign fans and distinguished guests, and got positive feedback – Slovenia has in all areas proved to be a hospitable and not too expensive destination, where they will come back or recommend it to others, which for the future of Slovenian tourism is of utmost importance.

Q: Did we use the event appropriately for the promotion of Slovenia in the areas of economy, sports and other fields?
For sure, although one is always trying for an even better result and would in certain areas want more. However, in the history of Slovenia’s independence there has not been an event that would be followed live by such a number of media (1,300 accredited journalists from 40 countries), and that would be watched by so many people on TV screens (we are still waiting to get the number of viewers from FIBA, but the partial results show that we have exceeded the number of EP in Lithuania, which was seen by over 200 million viewers). In FIBA, among other things, we also achieved the promotion of cities and hosts could be presented before every game with 20-second video-clips. Our sponsors were liaising with EuroBasket 2013 and thus strengthened their brand in Slovenia and abroad and had at an unprecedentedly exquisite VIP area networking opportunities with representatives of foreign companies, among which there were also a lot of the most influential European largest corporations (such as BEKO). We also hosted a number of political representatives who visited games and took advantage of meetings with local politicians. If you draw a line, EuroBasket 2013 opened up many new opportunities that now need to be grabbed by those who were economically and politically involved.

Q: What was the most difficult aspect in the organisation of such a large project?
Each area had its own EuroBasket story, and each was very difficult, so it is also difficult to say what was most difficult. Everything we have experienced in the last three years has been to our organising committee a special challenge, because no one has ever organised such a big event.

Q: In your opinion what do you think the future holds in the field of major sports projects?
With the excellent organisation of EuroBasket 2013 we showed that even such a small country can prepare a major international event. I hope that with this we gave motivation to others and that more sports federations will decide to take a similar step, since such events raise the value of our country around the world. Sporting events are constantly upgrading and are constantly looking for new marketing solutions. This was the case at this year’s championship, in which we have made a big step forward compared to the previous organisers, as well as in the fields of hospitality, communications and promotions and much more. Sports events are no longer purely competitions for points and victories, rather it is about a complete story which in different ways connects society, including those individuals who otherwise would not have witnessed the event. Slovenia should have at least one big event annually, even if not in the sports sense, to stay on the European map, as this way it would simply be raising its value and its positive image.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”400px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Slovenia has in all areas proved to be a hospitable and not too expensive destination, where they will come back or recommend it to others, which for the future of Slovenian tourism is of utmost importance.[/dropshadowbox]

Exclusive interview - Aleš Križnar
ALEŠ KRIŽNAR – the first man of the championship




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