The crisis in Kosovo was the main cause of a 33 percent year-on-year decrease of Slovaks vacationing abroad for the period of January through May, said Jana Kozubová, Secretary General of the Slovak Travel Agencies Association (SACK).
According to the Ministry of Economy's March "Bulletin of Tourism", the most popular international travel destination for Slovaks is Croatia at 20.8% followed by Greece (14.8%), Italy (14.2%), the Czech Republic (8.2%), Hungary (7.9%) and Spain (7.3%). Kozubová said that Croatia's close proximity to the fighting in Yugoslavia led to the cancellation of many trips to Croatia as well as Turkey.
In June, however, travel agencies recorded a surge in demand for Croatian holidays, which they attribute to the end of NATO's bombing campaign. According to Pavol Komora, Satur travel agency director and member of the Slovak Club of Tour Operators, if sales continue to increase, travel agencies could reach levels as high as 75% to 80 % of last year's totals.
Eleonóra Muňková, the General Director's Assistant of Satur, said that she felt the drop-off was also due in part to the decreasing buying power of the Slovak people. "The purchasing behaviour of Slovaks abroad has changed," she said. "Fewer national are traveling abroad, and those who do travel have chosen to stay in less expensive hotels, for example."
Slovaks traveling abroad may face costs three times as high as they do for a domestic holiday. According to the "Bulletin of Tourism", the average holiday expenditure per capita in Slovakia was 4,050 crowns in 1998 (3,600 crowns in 1997). Meanwhile, travelling abroad cost Slovak citizens an average of 12,600 crowns per capita in 1998, compared to 10,700 crowns in 1997.
2. Aug 1999 at 0:00 | Chris Togneri