BUSINESS DIARY

Bratislava aims to attract more tourists

BRATISLAVA city council is planning to extend its range of tourist services and promote the city more effectively abroad.

Deputy mayor Tatiana Mikušová told the press that the council has prepared a plan to promote Bratislava abroad as a capital small in size but offering a wide range of interesting tourist attractions, the SITA news wire wrote.

The city wants to offer foreign tourists visits focussed on sightseeing and culture in the capital and in its surroundings.

It also wants to introduce programmes catering to "special interest" tourists. These might include sightseeing tours based on historical periods and programmes for children and religious groups, for example. Igor Kuhn, advisor to the city council on tourism, proposes Bratislava make use of the current trend in Europe for tourists to favour smaller capitals. In 2005 Bratislava will promote itself at tourism fairs in Berlin, Frankfurt and London. Additionally, the city council will provide foreign journalists with sightseeing tours in Bratislava and its surroundings, as well as promote the city in Austria and Germany.

The head of the city council's tourism department Jana Kozubová said that the council would also be upgrading online tourism services. A new Internet portal will allow online hotel booking and ticket sales for cultural events.

To improve the quality of its services for tourists, a new information and training centre at Bratislava airport is planned. As well as providing inbound holiday makers with information and other services, the centre will train employees from the Bratislava Cultural and Information Centre (BKIS).

A further tourist information centre is planned for the main bus terminal at Mlynské Nivy. "Our goal is to make Bratislava a comparable tourist destination with other capitals in central Europe," she added.

Business tourism represents a significant opportunity. "We will prepare a catalogue of congress facilities. In the future, other congress centres should open in Bratislava. This area is one of our priorities," Mikušová, said.

During the first nine months of 2004, almost 440,000 tourists visited Bratislava, staying a total of 844,000 nights. Of this, 300,000 were foreign tourists who stayed more than 557,000 nights.

The city council expects that the number of tourists for 2004 will exceed 2003 by 16 percent. It estimates that the new strategy will increase the number of visitors to Bratislava by another 15 percent over the next two years. The city council spent approximately Sk4 million (€103,000) on promoting Bratislava in 2004. It plans to increase that amount by Sk300,000 (€7,700) in 2005.

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