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Diplomats talk tourism in Slovakia

TOURISM remains one of the most important ways to introduce country to other nations and cultures, say foreign diplomats accredited in Slovakia who offered their view on the country through the eyes of travellers.

TOURISM remains one of the most important ways to introduce country to other nations and cultures, say foreign diplomats accredited in Slovakia who offered their view on the country through the eyes of travellers.

“Slovakia has an extraordinary potential as a tourist destination,” Serbian Ambassador to Slovakia Šani Dermaku told The Slovak Spectator, pointing to the diversity Slovakia can offer.

Roberto Martini, the Italian ambassador, confirms that Slovakia really is a place where visitors always discover something: “artistic and architectural treasures living side by side in a breath-taking landscape”.

Foreign diplomats mostly praised Slovakia’s natural beauty, including mountains (like High and Low Tatras, and Slovenský raj), rivers (like the Danube, Váh and Hron), and caves; historical towns (like Bratislava, Košice, Banská Štiavnica, Levoča and Bardejov); spas (not only best-known Piešťany, but also those in smaller towns across the country); cultural monuments (like wooden churches some of which were inscribed into UNESCO World Heritage List); and even traditions.

As a travel addict, Greek Ambassador Nicolas Plexidas recommends visiting the country that will leave “no room for disappointment to any eager traveller”. Norwegian Ambassador Inga Magistad recommends rafting or canoeing on the Váh or Hron rivers for active tourists.

Slovakia is not only about its historical monuments and charming countryside, about it also “extends to its people and the two become an inseparable part of the magic of Slovakia”, as suggested by Cypriot Ambassador Marios Kountourides.

Eve-Külli Kala, the Estonian ambassador to Slovakia, also considers Slovakia a visitor-friendly country, calling its people “wonderful”.

“You can eat and drink well in splendid company with happy Slovak citizens,” adds Steen Bonde Rákoczy Pedersen, senior political affairs officer of the Embassy of Denmark situated in Vienna.

So why is Slovakia still unknown to the world? According to Simon Gruber from the Austrian Embassy, as any other country it needs “a lot of promotion in various media and the internet”. The idea of spreading more information about the country is also supported by Ukrainian Ambassador Oleh Havaši.

To attract more visitors, tourism should also “capitalise on the country’s multicultural traditions”, according to the Hungarian Embassy. This includes introducing the history, customs, music, dishes of diverse cultures and ethnicities living in Slovakia that can make this “little” country really “big” for the visitors, the embassy stressed.

The situation may also improve if the country gets rid of one of its deficiencies to which some ambassadors, including Ambassador of India Param Jit Mann, pointed: the lack English materials. More information in English can help foreign tourists understand and venture around the country “without getting lost in translation”, said Indonesian Ambassador Djumantoro Purwokoputro Purbo.

Also Kathy Bunka, Canadian chargé d’affaires, suggests expanding the number of information offices and booths and ensuring more English-language guides. This can encourage them “to come back for a longer visit at same point in the future”, she told The Slovak Spectator.

When it comes to wishes foreign diplomats have for Slovak tourism, Irish Ambassador Anne-Marie Callan wished for the country to be featured in more international travel supplements, while Finland’s Chargé d’Affaires Henna Knuuttila wishes “all the best for country’s ecotourism”.

Since most tourists visit only Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, Bernarda Gradišnik, the Slovenian ambassador, wishes the country that they will also discover other beauties the country can offer and will “develop such a warm connection with it as me and my family did”.

“I wish that Slovakia could find a way to showcase its nature to the world and capitalise on its natural resources for the economic benefit of the country, in a way that is environmentally sustainable in the long term,” Norman Thatcher Scharpf, deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, told The Slovak Spectator.

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