Postojna, 13 September (STA) - The Postojna Cave, one of Slovenia's main natural landmarks, which reopened for visitors in June after the longest closure in its history due to Covid-19 restrictions, expects to have around 220,000 visitors this year. The head of the company operating the cave, Marjan Batagelj, expects the pre-pandemic figures to be reached in ten years.
"If normality in tourism is measured by the number of visitors, nights and revenue, the post-pandemic normality will be reached in ten years," said Batagelj, CEO of Postojnska Jama.
After 307 days of full closure, the company expects around 220,000 visitors this year if no new lockdown is imposed.
Batagelj said this was close to figures recorded about ten years ago. "However, today we are in a much better shape than we were then," he said, adding that comparisons with the pre-pandemic 2019 were not possible.
Postojnska Jama revenue topped EUR 8.4 million at the end of 2020, which means a loss of almost EUR 2.6 million.
Batagelj expects this year's revenue to reach about EUR 10 million, which is comparable to 2010.
The pandemic has also affected the structure of guests.
While in 2019, a third of visitors came from non-European countries, 24% were from neighbouring countries, 22% from big European countries and 7% Slovenians, this year (between June and the end of August), Slovenian guests accounted for 22% of the visitors, 21% were from neighbouring countries, 46% from the main European markets, 8% from other European countries and only 3% were non-Europeans.
Next year, some 429,000 visitors are expected at the Postojna Cave, of whom 11% Slovenians and 18% larger groups.
Slovenians spent EUR 318,000 in tourist vouchers at the Postojna Cave, and this year the figure is to double.
Batagelj expects tourist vouchers to be used also around Christmas holidays, when the living nativity scene is to be set up again after a one-year break.
During the closure due to the pandemic, several major projects were carried out, including a full renovation of the walking path, which cost over EUR 4 million. The renovation of the walking path to Predjama Castle is still under way.
Postojnska Jama also welcomed its 40-millionth visitor today. The figure was expected to be reached last spring, but due to Covid-19 the 40-millionth ticket was sold this year, to Hungarian Barbara Csecsei.
If visitor numbers continue to rise as expected, Batagelj hopes the 50-millionth visitor will be greeted in 2036.