Encouraging rise in tourists to Slovenia

Slovenia's pristine natural beauty is one of its main attractions.

Looking back, the 2002 tourist season in Slovenia can be considered very successful.

Last year over 2 million tourists chose Slovenia as their vacation destination. According to the Statistical Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, the total number of tourists that visited Slovenia last year was 3 per cent greater than in 2001.

Out of these 2 million, foreign tourists made up 1.3 million in total, or 7 percent more than at the end of the previous year.

Breaking down the statistics into national groups, the highest number of foreign tourists were from neighbouring Italy, at a total of 274,585, which is 2 percent more than at the end of 2001.

The second largest number came from Germany, totalling 229,018, conversely a 2 per cent fall from this time last year.

Following these, the next largest group of foreign tourists in 2002 was from Austria, at 193,265 in total, the equivalent of an 11 per cent growth from 2001. In addition, there were almost 94,000 Croatian tourists in Slovenia in 2002, a small 2 per cent decrease from the previous year.

Awareness of Slovenia seemed to be higher in the United Kingdom, as many British tourists decided to visit Slovenia this past year: in fact there were more than 46,000 British tourists in Slovenia this year, which is approximately 14 per cent more than last year.

Similarly, there were many tourists from the United States in 2002, approximately 30,000 in total or a six per cent rise from the total number of American tourists in Slovenia during 2001.

More than 20,000 Swiss tourists and almost 28,000 French tourists visited Slovenia in 2002, showing a rise in statistics from 2001 of 17 and 19 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile there was no significant change in the number of Hungarian tourists in Slovenia between 2001 and 2002 - of which there were almost 33,000 in both years.

Another surprising statistic showing heightened awareness of Slovenia abroad, the number of Belgian tourists in Slovenia in 2002 was approximately 24 per cent greater this past year than in 2001, adding up to 23,634 in total.

Other statistics similarly show positive growth, such as the number of overnight stays, which totalled to 7.3 million in 2002, a 3 per cent increase from the previous year. Out of these, 4 million overnight stays were by foreign tourists - equivalent to a 5 per cent increase from the previous year. Out of these, German tourists stayed overnight most often at a total of 847,911 - a 3 per cent increase compared to the same statistic from the previous year.

Italian guests also took advantage of Slovenia's accommodation offers staying overnight more than 4 per cent more than in 2001.