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Growth in tourism resumes

AFTER a sad year for Slovakia’s tourism industry when the number of travellers shrank during 2014, the first half of 2015 has brought better news. 

The High Tatras(Source: TASR)

The number of travellers choosing Slovakia as their holiday destination increased by almost 10 percent year on year. This means that the visiting rate exceeded the record year of 2013. The sector hopes that the number of tourists will grow even more in the future.

“We expect this trend to continue throughout the whole year,” said František Palko, state secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Construction and Rural Development, as cited by the TASR newswire.

A total of 1.894 million people chose Slovakia as their holiday destination in the first half of 2015, the Slovak Tourism Board informed based on data from the Slovak Statistics Office. Of these, 734,000 travellers were from abroad and 1.16 million were Slovaks; the increases were 10.4 and 9.5 percent, respectively.

Palko also sees joint activities within the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) on distant markets as behind the increase in holidaymakers.

“We’re being visited also by tourists headed not only exclusively to Slovakia but also to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic,” said Palko.

Furthermore Palko sees the launch of the Dubai-Bratislava air route as behind the increase of foreign holidaymakers in Slovakia.

“It pleases us that a lot of tourists arrive from Arab countries,” said Palko, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “The regular route Dubai-Bratislava has helped intensify the arrival of tourists.”

The High Tatras also confirmed the positive development. The regional destination management organisation, OOCR Región Vysoké Tatry, estimated that as many as 800,000 people visited the High Tatras during the summer season, thus breaking records from 2008 and 2013. Accommodation facilities, operators of cable cars, restaurants and other service providers reported greater interest and longer stays in the High Tatras, SITA reported.

Market watchers see good weather but also geopolitical developments as behind more Slovaks spending holidays in their homeland. They say terrorist attacks in Tunisia and Turkey and the situations in Greece and Italy in failing to cope with the inflow of migrants might have contributed to decisions of Slovaks to spend their holidays in Slovakia, the Pravda daily wrote.

In terms of weather, compared to 2014 when a warm winter emptied ski resorts, those involved in the tourism business had hoped that the good winter season of 2014-2015 and the hot summer, filling swimming pools and summer resorts, would take the number of holidaymakers in Slovakia well above the record levels of 2013. 

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