In the previous year, Ljubljana Tourism celebrated its twentieth anniversary. In the jubilee year, it was ranked among the 75 most innovative organisations worldwide and received several international awards for its projects in the field of sustainability, digitalisation and innovation. Regardless of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic for the second year in a row, they managed to follow their strategic goals and create new innovative experiences for domestic and foreign visitors.
Below are some of the key highlights of the Ljubljana tourist year 2021:
A challenging year in the grip of the pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on Ljubljana’s tourism last year. According to SORS data, 788,093 overnight stays were recorded in Ljubljana from January to November (of which 98,370 were domestic guests); in 2019, there were around two million of them in this period, and December strengthened the annual statistics by about 140,000 overnight stays. Last December ended with significantly lower numbers: according to the City Tourist Information Center, the average occupancy of rooms in 26 Ljubljana hotels and hostels in December was 34%; in December 2019, it was 61%.
At Ljubljana Tourism, they were adapting to constantly-changing measures and looking for opportunities to implement their planned program safely. Last year, they co-financed 32 events in the City of Ljubljana, including traditional, sports and culinary events.
A year marked by sports events
In the first half of 2021, Ljubljana hosted the European Under-21 Football Championship. On this occasion, the City of Ljubljana and Ljubljana Tourism carried out coordinated promotional campaigns to raise the profile of the Slovenian capital on the world sports map.
Furthermore, Ljubljana was enlivened by several high-profile sports events, such as Triglav The Rock Ljubljana, Ljubljana 3×3 Challenger, Barjanka cycling race, Enduro 4fun Golovec trails and EuroVolley 2021. The highlight of 2021 was an innovative sports and entertainment event Woop! Bounce bridge Ljubljana, where Ljubljana saw the largest trampoline in the world erected over its river.
November was again marked by culinary spectacles. The traditional November Gourmet Ljubljana festival connected one of the most important culinary events in Europe, the European Food Symposium. It comprised a culinary walk through cultural institutions, an adventure dinner with Michelin chefs and many other events, from workshops to tastings. The end of the festival heralded the issue of the first gastronomic magazine of Ljubljana – Gourmet Ljubljana.
The year 2021 was also extremely active for the Ljubljana Convention Bureau, which promoted the Slovenian capital predominantly at online events, as well as hybrid and live events as a member of the EU CVB Network. The organisation was a partner in the implementation of the Conventa 2021 business tradeshow, one of the first B2B events that took place in the post-epidemic closure period. The project of creating an online podcast named “Ljubljana Talks” on the Clubhouse platform in cooperation with Toleranca Marketing received one of the most important marketing industry awards “ICCA Best Marketing Award” for creativity and innovation.
Recognitions and awards
Last year, Ljubljana received several important recognitions and awards in the field of tourism, including the Energy Globe Award 2021. Ljubljana was also declared the best green capital in Europe, and for the seventh year in a row, one of the most sustainable destinations in the world. Ljubljana was nominated for the title of European Best Destination and was a finalist in the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition. The iconic media Time ranked it among the world’s greatest destinations, and Lonely Planet ranked it among the eight most sustainable cities in the world.