In an interview Majda Rozina Dolenc, director of the Slovenian Tourist Board in Germany, gives a positive assessment of the Convention & Culture partner at the ITB Berlin Convention 2017. The main aim of promoting awareness and Slovenia’s image in the B2B market was fully achieved.
How did your participation as Convention & Culture Partner at the ITB Berlin Convention 2017 go? What results did you achieve?
Majda Rozina Dolenc: As Convention & Culture Partner of ITB Berlin 2017 we were able to focus attention on Slovenia at the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show. Slovenia has been represented in Hall 17 with its own stand for many years. Apart from its diversity – nowhere else in Europe can one find the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Basin all in one place – Slovenia is the only country with the word ’love’ in its name, which is why the advertising logo bears the slogan ’I feel sLOVEnia’. In our role as Convention & Culture Partner we were able to further promote awareness of Slovenia as well as its image at ITB Berlin. In addition to the main display in Hall 17 Slovenia was also represented with a stand in Hall 4.1 (outdoor activities) and in the Culture Lounge, where the focus was on the architecture of the capital Ljubljana and the famous architect Jože Plečnik. Prague and Ljubljana have included his lifetime achievements in their application for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status.
Our role as Convention & Culture Partner gave us many other opportunities to attract plenty of attention to our small country. For example, the Wi-Fi password ifeelsLOVEnia@ITB’ was used by every visitor, and we were able to distribute our green sticker which read ’IfeelsLOVEnia’ at the main entrances. We also organised a panel discussion at the ITB Berlin Convention which presented Slovenia as a green and sustainable destination. We developed a new format for it which combined prepared lectures presenting sustainable projects and case studies by influential figures. Slovenia as a tourism destination also featured on numerous posters and at the photo exhibition at the ITB Convention. There was also a focus on MICE and wellness events at Slovenia’s spa resorts.
What was the response to your presentations at the ITB Berlin Convention? Were you able to establish any new and worthwhile contacts?
Majda Rozina Dolenc: As the Convention & Culture Partner we were very successful and received a positive response. Since ITB Berlin 2017 we have had many enquiries from institutions and tourism organisations, not only from Germany, but also from other European countries and around the world, on the topic of sustainability. As a result, we are able to promote Slovenia as a world leader in this field. It also demonstrates that our commitment to sustainability many years ago was the right decision.
During ITB Berlin 2017 Slovenia hosted a reception with 700 invited guests which we co-organised with the State representation of Baden-Württemberg and the Greater Danube Region. This was a big success. Our relationship with Baden-Württemberg, which in terms of tourism exchanges is Slovenia’s largest partner and only marginally ahead of Bavaria, is a big success. Overall, Germany is Slovenia’s biggest trading partner and ITB Berlin is the ideal place to meet the leading representatives of the international tourism industry. Our main aim of promoting awareness and Slovenia’s image in the B2B market was fully achieved.
Slovenia has taken active steps to protect the environment and promote green tourism. What are your plans and how do you persuade Slovenia’s tourism industry to invest in a green future?
Majda Rozina Dolenc: Our sustainability project takes our traditions, cultural heritage, art, authors, museums and ancient festivals into account. For us as a small nation it is particularly important to cultivate our language and culture and to preserve our identity. We are currently promoting Slovenia as a green, active and healthy country at the heart of Europe. We have already received many green awards and been recognised internationally as a Green Globe Destination. This is not just about providers selling local products, it is also about a car-free urban environment, electric transport and the idea of sustainability in society. The Slovenian Tourist Board is working closely with other tourism partners and individual regions, and together with the Ministry of Economics has developed a scheme under which companies can operate in different categories and receive graded awards.
Slovenia is not a tourism destination for the masses. In order to further develop sustainability and Green Slovenia economically in the future the Tourism Directorate of the Slovenian Ministry for Economic Development and Technology is preparing a new strategy that will be ready by 2022. At the same time the Slovenian Tourist Board is developing a corresponding marketing strategy promoting Slovenia as an active, green and healthy travel destination. This will mainly take the shape of digital content.
You were a significant player at ITB Berlin 2017. Are you planning to be represented at ITB Berlin in the future?
Majda Rozina Dolenc: For us, working together with Messe Berlin, its partners and employees, from management to operational level, was fantastic. We would like to take this opportunity to thank David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin, and Prof. Dr. Conrady, the science head of the ITB Berlin Convention, for their professional cooperation. They were always on hand to help us find the right format to present Slovenia. As a small nation we do not have a very big budget, which is why it is important for the activities we choose to produce maximum revenue. We are also fighting to gain attention, must respond proactively and are especially dependent on partners who can give us their full support in every way. As in previous years, the Slovenian Tourist Board and all our interested partners will be represented at ITB Berlin 2018 with their own stand in order to creatively showcase Slovenia as a diverse tourism destination with up-to-the-minute topics. ITB Berlin continues to be the leading event for the Slovenian tourism industry.