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Welcome note

Iztok Bricl, Msc, Managing Director (GR-Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre)

Respected Mr. Zdravko Počivalšek, the Minister, Mrs. Eva Štravs-Podlogar, the State Secretary, both from the Slovenian Ministry for Economic Development and Technology; respected Mrs. Maja Pak, MSc, the Director General of the Slovenian Tourist Board, respected Mr. dr. Janez Bogataj, the President of the Jakob Award Commission; respected Mrs. Tjaša Ficko, MSc, the Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Ljubljana;  the honourable diplomatic corps; respected partners; dear exhibitors and colleagues, welcome to the  GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, to the 28th International Exhibition Natour Alpe-Adria! 

Tourism in Slovenia is becoming more and more important economic activity with several multiplicative effects and great potential for development and growth. International awards and certificates prove its successful direction as green, active and healthy sports destination. At the last Touristic Exchange in London, Slovenia has been established as attractive destination for 

athlete conditioning, as well as active holidays for tourists from near and far. 

Already last year, we, at the GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, decided to divert the flow of the main touristic exhibition event in Slovenia into the presentation of products that bring into focus sustainability directed active holidays in natural environment. With the purpose to introduce such experiences in uniquely unspoiled nature and warm hospitality of local people to buyers from abroad, we have added to the Alpe-Adria Exhibition  the boutique Business Exchange Natour that is organized by GIZ – the Hiking and Biking Association of Slovenia and the Toleranca Marketing Company with the support from the Slovenian Tourist Board.

And so, here it is, the first reprise of the renewal, all the time to Saturday.

At this year’s Natour Alpe-Adria more than 330 tourism providers from 15 countries – Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Albania, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Nepal, India, Jordan and Tunisia are presenting themselves. At the Business Exchange Natour going on right now,  twelve Slovenian providers from Slovenia are introducing themselves to twenty foreign agencies from Poland, Germany, Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Romania and Malta.

I am proud to be able, this year, also, to welcome all the institutions of Slovenian tourism, from Slovenian Tourist Board, Tourism Ljubljana, The Associaton of Slovenian Touristic Farms, to  the Slovenian Tourist Association with multiple associations, associations of local environments which vividly colour the Glass Hall with their cultural ethnological tradition.

 This year, active holidays in nature are presented by our numerous actors as  the Slovenian Fishing association, the Slovenian Kayak Association, the Alpine Association of Slovenia, the Slovenia Forest Service, GIZ – the Hiking and Biking Association of Slovenia, the Slovenian Mountain Biking Consortium (odprimopoti.si), the Slovenian Fitness Association, the  Sports Union, The Slovenian Olympic Committee, and this year’s novelty, in a special segment, The Sports Fair named Active and Fit.

In this segment, the visitors gain new information and knowledge in the field of sport, get to know new sports trends and new features, test sports  equipment and nutritional supplements, exchange experience with other sportsmen, and it is also taken care for the youngest by numerous children's sports equipment and skills courses. All days during the exhibition, the children are expected at the outdoor platform, at the Franci Petek’s Mini Planica, and adults can test themselves on the climbing tower of the Alpine Association of Slovenia. 

Because, also within the exhibition, we want to encourage the development of high quality, authentic and innovative tourism products, we have for this year's competition for the international prize Jakob that is awarded for  touristic quality and excellence in the Alps-Adriatic region, the theme »Innovative touristic programs for active vacation in natural environment«. In just few minutes we will disclose this year's winner out of 44 candidates.

The official part of the opening will conclude the interview of Mr. Počivalšek, the Minister, by Mr. Drago Bulc, the President of Travel Journalists – FIJET Slovenia about Ministry's future measures. In the afternoon Mr. Bulc will moderate a discussion about unexploited opportunities of mobilehomes tourism in Slovenia. Within the Business Exchange Natour there will be the presentation of domestic and foreign good practices. The Touristic Association of Slovenia will introduce the project Guide Interpretor for young tourist guides. Tonight, the world platform and networking Travel Massive will be presented too.

Tomorrow morning there will be a discussion about sustainability and responsibility in tourist guiding by the Slovenian Professional Guides Association. The Slovenian Kayak  Association, following the this year's main theme Healthy Water Sources, wants to highlight the regime of navigation on Slovenian rivers and other efforts to preserve rivers in their natural state with the Friday's dicsussion. On Thursday there will be a panel regarding environmental capabilities of Slovenian tourism organized by Zavod Tovarna Trajnostnega Turizma, which should not be overlooked.  The Alpine Association of Slovenia will present acknowledgments to the most successful alpinists and sport climbers of the past year at the aplinistic-climbing evening.

On Friday, The Kvarner County Tourism Office will introduce itself, followed by the discussion  about Physical Activities of the Employed Workers organized by the Slovenian Sport Union with partners, the afternoon is primarily intended for cycling enthusiasts. 

On Saturday, at the Conference about Alpine Economy of Alpine Association of Slovenia, environmentally and family friendly mountain huts will be chosen; The Tourist Association of Slovenia with partners will present the best thematic routes in Slovenia and regional route in 2016.

These are just some of the this year's exhibition accompanying program highlights, together with the Business Exchange  and exhibition Natour Alpe-Adria, at the  GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, there are also The Fairs of Tastes organized by the Primorski Sejem.

Dear exhibitors of both fairs, I wish you successful exhibition days. I thank to everybody participating at the development and set up of the Business Exchange and the exhibition, and specially to the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Development and Technology in the role of honorary patron of the exhibition.

Let’s keep this key trade fair a meeting point for cooperation and integration of tourist operators to significantly contribute to the development and recognition of the importance of this industry. As an overview, a flow of knowledge and experience, or as a breakthrough of innovative challenges in creating unique and authentic experiences. For an active vacation! For sustainable tourism!

Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology

Dear exhibitors, Dear visitors, The participants of the touristic fair Natour Alps-Adriatic.

It is great honour to be able to greet you, today,  here at the opening of the leading touristic fair for active tourism in the Alps-Adriatic region.

In the beginning, let me thank the organizers for the granted honorary patronage.

The focus of the fair is coherent with the guidance of the Slovenian tourism, and that is why it is gladly supported by the Ministry.

 I am pleased the fair’s business exchange Natour Alpe-Adria has been developing successfully and is, each year, richer with its new contents.

We support your efforts to become the largest European specialised business -touristic event for active holidays and green tourism.

The brand of the fair, which is the only of such format in Slovenia, matches very well to the Slovenia’s title as the first Green destination of the world and Ljubljana as the first Green Capital of Europe 2016.
I am sure the fair will reach greater international recognition, as, already this year, 300 exhibitors from 20 countries are presenting themselves.

The conference about the bearing capability of tourist destinations and the meeting of all actors dealing with these issues in their own way is one of the highlight events.

I would also like to expose the conference on actual subject  The Network of motorhomes stops in Slovenia and a meeting about nautical tourism with the Croatian Touristic Association in cooperation with ACI.

As well, this international event is an extraordinary opportunity for exchanging expertise opinions and experience, and for creating new business connections. 

Today, for the 7th time, we will present the Jakob Award – the acknowledgment for excellence and quality in the Alps-Adriatic region.

The theme of this year’s award is “Innovative touristic programs for active vacation in natural environment”.

I am looking forward to meeting this year’s finalists, the winner and their original projects.

I am sincerely congratulating all the finalists for their achievements and excellence in tourism.

I am sure the granted award will mean a precious acknowledgment for the achievements so far and, at the same time, the encouragement for future work and excellence upgrade.

The Natour also mirrors the Slovenian tourist industry successfulness that has been setting records for the last two years.

In 2016, all together, almost 4.2 million tourists visited Slovenia, which is 9.4 % more than in 2015.

The number of foreign tourists increased by 11.4 % and of domestic ones by 5.1 %.

Together they made 11 million overnight stays which is 7.6 % more than the year before.

The key markets of the tourists coming to Slovenia remain Italy, Austria and Germany, with Croatia, the Netherlands and United Kingdom following.

The revenue from the export of travels was almost € 2.5 billion, which is by 4 % more than the year before.  

There is no lack of optimism in Slovenian tourism for the coming year. Good results oblige us to continue connecting and growth.

In this year, the Slovenian tourism is starting a new strategic period.

A new Strategy of the sustainability growth of the Slovenian tourism 2017-2021 is being prepared, a new legislation regarding the tourism development encouraging, that is going to bring several novelties is going to come into effect. 

The legislation about hospitality is going to be amended, and new legislation about the Stud Farm Lipica prepared.

Dear guests, 

We are sure, that new and renewed legislation and new strategy document will create appropriate business environment and set the right measures and guidelines for the successful further development of tourism.

We are aware, that firstly, it is necessary to ensure interesting and diverse touristic offer with top quality services, that is achievable with highly motivated personnel, inventiveness and creativity, as well as, cooperation among providers at the touristic destination.

To all, I wish successful cooperation, many positive experiences, excellent business achievements and pleasant visit to the fair that we are opening just now.

Thank you.