OPATIJA, Croatia / 4,05
170 years of tourism tradition is based on the positive energy of the riviera and the exceptional natural conditions. This is a great sign for the revival of Opatija congress tourism, which has recently relaxed slightly in comparison with the hyperactive Croatian Adriatic competitors. The city already boasts the entire infrastructure, but it is beaten mostly by an unfavourable image and somewhat slow adjustment to the new congress market conditions. A change of the structure of hotels is also necessary, as ‘cosmopolitan’ Opatija today only boasts three hotels in the 5-star category, whilst in Dubrovnik there are now 14.
SCHLADMING, Austria / 4,04 (NEW 2016)
Over the last decade tourism in Styria has undergone a swift development. Schladming is a big skiing centre, the scene of the best slalom races of the season as well as other internationally renowned sports competitions. Besides that it is now also an excellent congress venue and a place that will stay fondly in the memory of every guest. We can say without a doubt that the tourist development of Schladming is a success story and we are certain that that will also be the case in the future. Sporting events, on which they have built extensively, have contributed mostly to the success and with this event organisation the destination has gained a lot of experience that can now be transferred into the congress field. The constant investment in tourism and tourist infrastructure, which has been mostly private and because of that well thought through and pointed in the right direction, is a definite recipe for success.
BLED, Slovenia / 4,03
As a recognisable brand Bled stands out among other congress destinations in the region. It most closely resembles Dubrovnik, which caught up with the pre-war congress tempo by taking the right steps. Currently the biggest disadvantage is the lack of a clear focus towards quality rather than mass tourism. This is most clearly seen in the restaurant, night life and shopping offer. As a result the current perception of quality is lower than with largest competitors. In Bled the saying ‘Less is more’ is very true. The potential for the meetings industry is immense, it just needs to be harnessed in the right way.
PORTOROŽ, Slovenia / 4,02
The historic laurels of the leading Adriatic congress destination are slowly starting to gather dust. Portorož is still in hard competition with Dubrovnik, Opatija and new Adriatic congress destinations that are developing all the time. A rich congress history, tradition and the existing infrastructure are a competitive advantage. The meetings industry is by no means a tree to sleep under and simply harvest its fruit of wealthy congress participants. Despite that, Portorož has proven resilient and adaptable many times in the course of history, so some innovativeness and marketing opportunities should ensure it has a bright future.
ROVINJ, Croatia / 4,01
If at the destination you have owners who have clear goals and who look at congress tourism strategically, then in a short time you can do a lot. It is possible to revitalize the old factory premises and build a superior conference hotel. Maistra in Rovinj has undoubtedly left its mark. Taking into consideration the geographical location of Rovinj as one of the closest Mediterranean congress destinations for Central and Western Europe, the future of this industry is guaranteed. Missing is only a convention bureau, which would know how to step out of corporate governance of the destination and would be able to serve as attorney of the meetings industry. Otherwise, forecasts of mayor Sponza that Rovinj will be more exclusive than Dubrovnik, can be realized.
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia / 3,96
The most important winter sports centre in Slovenia has among the Slovenian ski resorts the strongest brand, which is known worldwide mainly due to the Cup Vitranc. It has stayed n the company of places like Kitzbuhel, Cortina, Garmisch and Wengen for many years. In recent years, Kranjska Gora successfully defied the green winters and economic hardship of key hoteliers. Slowly and steadily it has also developed a summer tourist offer, which enables the development of congress tourism. Both seasons are now virtually in balance. With the latest changes in the field of hospitality it will surely strengthen its position as an important centre for the implementation of incentive programmes and small conferences. Due to the recognition of the ski jumps in Planica and Vitranc Cup it has a high priority over other rivals in the region. It is an important boutique congress destination for quality mid-size corporate events up to 350 participants.
VYSOKE TATRE, Slovakia / 3,95 (NEW 2016)
The High Tatras are an extraordinary surprise and one of the undiscovered European incentive jewels. In the shadow of the much more notorious Zakopane range in neighbouring Poland, they offer at least as broad an incentive offer, which is nicely complemented by a very favourable financial package. As the main tourist resorts are close to mountain resorts, ski resorts and scenic walking trails, it is a totally perfect destination for more sports-inspired incentive groups. We recommend organising events in the spring and autumn months, when places aren’t flooded with the annual mass winter tourist flows. The prices in Slovakia are significantly lower than in central Europe and the destination is just a few hours’ drive by motorway from major Central European cities.
SAVINJA VALLEY, Slovenia / 3,94
Upper Savinja Valley is one of Slovenia’s natural jewels of. Its tourism offer is undoubtedly getting more diverse with every passing year, but still many of its foreign guests are not getting a comprehensive source of information about the full range of events and activities offer. The valley can be compared with the Soča Valley, which in many respects has a similar congress offer and the advantage of a functioning destination organisation (LTO Sotočje). Both valleys are two uncut diamonds of the Slovenian meetings offer that we believe will sooner or later be discovered by European event organisers. Given the advantages of this valley that is really impressive with its diversity, its natural resources and the charms of the Savinja river, it will undoubtedly succeed.
SOČA VALELY, Slovenia / 3,93
In the narrow micro-region the Soča Valley is currently not facing increased competition. On the Italian side in Friuli Venezia Giulia, incentive tourism is underdeveloped and the development of the product in Brda and Nova Gorica is also at the beginning stages. A more serious competition is in Istria and neighbouring Carinthia, as well as within the wider Slovenian Julian Alps. The main advantage of the destination is a developed incentive product, gastronomy and preserved natural and cultural heritage, which is unequalled.
HVAR, Croatia / 3,92
None of the more than 1,000 Croatian islands has such karma and recognition as Hvar. Definitely a “must” Croatian destination, right behind Dubrovnik. Distance from the mainland gives it a touch of boutique smallness.
POREČ, Croatia / 3,87
Until recently Poreč was known mostly for its family tourism, which is focused on the sun and sea. In the last couple of years there have been significant moves in terms of seasonality and also the meetings industry. The whole of Istria, in fact, has a huge potential for incentive programmes. The congress infrastructure already exists, including the main culinary and sports programmes, as well as the salubrious surroundings that make them special. It’s just the appropriate connections to form real incentive products that have to be put in place, which will definitely make them seriously competitive. The list of events is getting longer every year and is moving Poreč up the ladder of event destinations in Croatia. If Poreč continues to be a tourist champion of Croatia, it will definitely make the break into the international congress scene.
GORIŠKA BRDA, Slovenia / 3,86
A number of the features of Brda make it special and unique in the wider area. In the first place is its openness to the sea, creating a pleasant Mediterranean climate, followed up by its natural beauty with rich cultural heritage and eco-preserved countryside with exceptional culinary and wine offer, unrivalled in the region. A panorama of hills with a cluster of agglomerations and subdivided farmland and countless terraced vineyards is certainly one of the most beautiful Italian-Slovenian landscape-aesthetic experiences. In the field of tourism-convention offer, Brda is perhaps the future formula of tourism development: “less is more”. The convention fate of Brda and Collio is in co-operation and joint promotion.
BUDVA, Montenegro / 3,85
Budva is one of the central incentive destinations on the Adriatic coast, with very successful marketing and despite numerous deficiencies in poor accessibility and current capacity selection. The development plans for the Monte Carlo of the Adriatic, openness from foreign investors and very liberal policies could position the Montenegro coast very high on the meetings industry map in the next few years, while it is already the leader in the area of incentive programs. It boasts the unique opportunity for the practically untapped Russian meetings industry, which has always had a positive relationship with Budva. If this “wild beauty” improves its accessibility, price competitiveness and infrastructure, it can be a worthy competitor as a meetings destination even in the wider region of the Mediterranean as one of the top destinations.
ROGAŠKA SLATINA, Slovenia / 3,83
It would be hard to find a more traditional health resort in Slovenia. Most other health resorts, including the neighbouring Podčetrtek, cannot boast such tradition that inspires confidence. In a few years the place has radically changed its appearance and has excellent congress infrastructure. However, something remains missing – more convention visitors, who were once coming en masse to these places. Rogaška needs congress tourism, as is written into its DNA. It seems that it is currently defying the modern times, mainly thanks to the proactive individual hoteliers. To regain a top spot more connectivity will be required, better joint promotion and all of this reflected through the establishment of a Convention Bureau.
LOŠINJ, Croatia / 3,80
Lošinj and Cres are the only Adriatic islands that successfully deal with sustainable tourism and are amongst the more eco-friendly islands of Kvarner. They differ from the more famous Dalmatian isles, such as Hvar, Brač and Krk, with their nature preservation, systematic sustainable development and cultural heritage. All these activities are well managed and present a huge opportunity for the development of a limited and exclusive sustainable meetings industry in harmony with the capabilities of the islands. The key chal- lenge is the invisibility of the islands’ image on the meetings industry radar, lacking the recognisable incentive brands to build the high quality boutique and intimate stories that can raise its profile. If local suppliers can develop from these points and their programmes can continue to be socially responsible, they will be able to benefit from the current trends in the industry. I am certain their first clients will be the existing loyal guest of Cres and Lošinj. With a high added value the islands can also become the eco-incentive oasis of the Adriatic.
LAŠKO, Slovenia / 3,79
Laško is first and foremost a spa destination, because the main motive of going there are the two spa and thermal centres. In the future it will remain so. In the past five years, however, much has been done in developing congress tourism and enriching the offer and it is today surprising how much Laško can offer to congress guests beyond its traditional tasty beer. Everything from one of the best Slovenian cuisines to an exceptional cultural and historical heritage together with the possibility of organising green meetings. In making this breakthrough Laško has very quickly become much more competitive to the more established meeting industry destinations.
UMAG, Croatia / 3,74
Among the competing congress destinations, Umag even a year ago would be easily overlooked, but today it is already hosting the most demanding events such as the most important Microsoft event Windays. This proves that the destination is profiled as a congress and especially incentive location. To the good functioning a great desti- nation management contributes a great deal, which in a form of a clusterfrom 2010 is promoted under the brand “Colours of Istria”.
BOHINJ, Slovenia / 3,73
The majority of congress guests will be sworn lovers of nature and its aesthetic value. Bohinj is a place that is created for sustainable conference programmes and for active incentive experiences. It is a place where without any hesitation you can drink water from the public water supply and from its clean streams. Even the basic network of thematic paths offers ideas for authentic congress programmes. In Slovenia, the beauty of Bohinj can only be matched by its neighbours across the peaks in the Soča Valley, or in Kranjska Gora.
PODČETRTEK, Slovenia / 3,69
There are few places where the only driving force of the economy is tourism. Because in these places industry has never developed, today this can be considered as one of their advantages. Podčetrtek has a great potential in the field of congress tourism. It is an authentic and in many ways a sustainable congress experience.
GREEN KARST, Slovenia / 3,68 (NEW 2016)
Due to the natural and cultural values Karst has great potential for the development of boutique congress tourism. It should be based on the unique aspects and comparative advantages of individual areas associated with a rich cultural heritage, cultural landscapes and a preserved natural environment. As an integrated product it is not yet developed at this time, so it is more likely to complement the rest of the Slovenian congress destinations. For its breakthrough it is necessary to raise the visibility and competitiveness among meeting planners who are today looking for exactly such authentic spaces. We believe that it will be recognized as a product with great potential based on its main tourism carrier, the Postojna cave.
SARVAR, Hungary / 3,60
Sárvár is a city that at the moment only a few would place somewhere on the convention destinations map. Development has been primarily focused on health tourism. Once you get to know it, it is an elegant and fresh destination that is surprising because it is not ostentatious.