Talking with Karmen Novarlič, Head of Slovenian Tourist Board
Q: How do you evaluate 10 years of Slovenian Convention Bureau? Could it be done more?
The meetings industry was already an important segment of Slovenian tourism 10 years ago when Slovenian Convention Bureau was established. At the state level, so as line ministry responsible for tourism and national tourist organization we have decided that the meetings industry in Slovenia has big opportunities for further development, so it was important to resolve the institutional issue and the framework of organized activities at the state level. This was also the time when number of investments in congress facilities was made. The meetings industry is an important or an increasingly important product of Slovenian tourism. It is characterized by excellent and professional business events, high added value, excellent ratio between quality and price, high quality recognized by the rest of the world, the satisfaction of domestic and foreign business partners, tourist product which records high growth….these are all facts who speak in favour of meetings and business tourism.
We always marked Slovenia in the field of business and congress tourism primarily as a destination for implementation of small and medium-sized congresses. At the same time we were aware that for the acquisition of major congresses we needed additional congress and accommodation facilities, especially high-grade. The development of such activities in conjunction with other “attendant” products such as quality wellness offer, we enabled many places to extent their tourist season. With the development of this product we pursued objectives such as seasonalization, higher purchasing power and the strengthening of congress tourism and incentive travel mainly on the domestic and gradually on foreign markets.
Cooperation with then Slovenian Tourist Organisation (STO), today the Department of Tourism SPIRIT Slovenia, with then established Slovenian Convention Bureau began soon after the establishment of the latter. In all the years we have been deeply involved in numerous marketing and communications activities. Together we passed the promotional activities abroad with the aim to position and strengthen Slovenia’s position as a congress destination, especially in recent years as a leading connection in South East Europe. Today, our view is oriented on the future and vision in further 10 years. It’s a fact that in Slovenia in the field of business and congress tourism was done a lot at all levels (national and in the field of tourist economy), which among other things reflects in the fact that Slovenia is becoming more internationally recognized as a congress and incentive destination.
Q: How do you evaluate the importance of the congress destination management?
Today, congress tourism in Slovenia is developed, convention centres offer the high quality and often even more flexible bids than competition within the European Union. In favour of quality congress tourism witness among other things successfully carried out domestic and foreign congresses, Slovenian organizers are enjoying reputation by foreign associations. I estimate that the congress tourism has a major role in the development and marketing of tourist services at the destination level, so the professionalization at the level of congress destination will be necessary in the future.
Q: What inspires you at 10th Anniversary of Slovenian Convention Bureau?
I am pleased that from the time of establishment of Slovenian Convention Bureau was developed and awareness of the importance of development of this field in Slovenian tourism. We are happy with the fact that success of this product for competing in the European and global market reach with innovation, investing in knowledge and training of personnel and investing in the promotion and marketing of the product. At the same time, we have successfully implemented networking/integration with other areas of Slovenian tourism and beyond. Forecasts for this segment globally in 2014 are positive, for business and congress tourism are good, the organizers of business and congress events are looking for new destinations, often with accompanying outdoor events where Slovenia can offer attractive tourism products with good price and quality. I am confident that together with Slovenian Convention Bureau these opportunities in partnership with the finding of synergy effect will be used and position this product on the top of the European and global providers.