Ljubljana, 18 July (STA) - Although demand remains below last year's, travel agencies have noticed interested in organised tours as Slovenians travel more and more after stiff coronavirus restrictions have been relaxed. However, the Association of Tourist Agencies of Slovenia does not expect full recovery before mid-2025.
"Demand for holidays and travel is slowly returning," the association's secretary general Mišo Mrvaljević has told the STA, although demand is not exactly rising.
Demand compared to last year's summer season is by some 20% worse, with a number of coronavirus bans and hurdles not enabling people to seriously plans their holidays.
"In Slovenia we are severely limited by where travel is possible without too many complications. Constantly changing conditions has caused a rush in demand and periods of unexpected lull."
Mrvaljević says this makes it extremely hard to offer domestic clients good travel products, while practically blocking any serious promotion on foreign markets.
Travel agency Sonček has told the STA that the majority of holiday-makers waited with booking until late spring or early summer, while those who have been vaccinated against Covid are more relaxed about deciding where to spend their holidays.
Travel agent Palma has meanwhile noticed that travellers who used to arrange their tours on their own are now turning to them, adding it is safer to have the backup of an agency in these uncertain times.
Mrvaljević says that safety comes first for Slovenian travel agencies, which offer several safe destinations such as Croatia, Greek islands, the Tenerife and Madeira, as well as tourist resorts in Turkey and Egypt.
"Interest in coach tours, and cruises is slowly returning, but we miss more interest in far-away destinations," Sonček says.
A year and a half into the pandemic, the Slovenian tourist industry is according to Mrvaljević in a state of lethargy.
Companies have largely used all of their reserves, while managing to keep the bulk of employees with the help of government emergency measures which have now expired.
"We're trying very hard to help decision-makers understand the need to get the industry going through the key part of the season with the help of the state until the end of the year, as we expect tourism to get back to pre-2020 levels in two to three years if things slowly get back to normal."
He is optimistic about the future of organised tours and travel agencies' business, saying "the human spirit will always want to explore the world we live in".
"If things get back to normal by the end of the year, realistically speaking, we expect the volume of business to increase by 65% in 2022 and to return to full scope by mid-2025."