Owner of award-winning travel agency: some tourists did not expect internet connection in Slovakia

Many tourists head to Slovakia because of mountain peaks and national parks. Erik Ševčík founded a travel agency that specialises in adventures in nature. Lately, his effort has caught the attention of Luxury Travel Guide and his business winning an award as Adventure Tour Operator of 2017.

Erik ŠevčíkErik Ševčík (Source: Erik Ševčík)

TSS: What is the idea behind your travel agency?

Erik Ševčík (EŠ): That travelling is fun. To have fun, you must like adventure, and adventure is something I love. The Adventoura Slovakia travel agency brings people to Slovakia, setting up private specialised packages, showing our best and nicest places, specialising on adventure tours such a bear watching, walking, water and snow sports.

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TSS: Would you describe your travel agency as ecological?

EŠ: I focus on eco-tourism. An example would be the bear-watching tour in the Tatra Mountains. My tour is set on an official walking trail. I don’t use hides and don’t feed wild animals. And our chances of seeing a bear are still more than 90 percent.

Or in the village of Ždiar, there are still men who work with their horses in the forest and in their spare time we all organise horse carriage events for tourists. As a result, I support tradition in a great folk village, teaching young boys how to take care of horses, so the next generation will see what life in Slovakia was like in the past.

TSS: Is sustainable tourism important for you?

EŠ: I always say that tourism is not a business like selling furniture in a store. It is a very sensitive field and if you want to be successful, you need to cooperate with all the people in the area in the best possible way. That’s something I always try to teach my guides and colleagues. Support the locals, communicate with them, create a unique product.

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TSS: When and how did the idea of setting up a travel agency come about?

EŠ: I began to guide guests and friends 15 years ago, working as a tour leader and guide for world-renowned travel agencies. In addition, I spent five years abroad (USA, New Zealand, South Africa). During my travels I saw what was missing in Slovakia, and that’s why I started my own company seven years ago.

TSS: What experiences are tourists looking for when coming to Slovakia?

EŠ: All travellers are looking for country’s specifics. They always ask for our traditional dish bryndzové halušky (sheep cheese dumplings) instead of schnitzel. If I offer wine, it is our Slovak wine, instead of Italian, for example. They are also interested in learning basic phrases, such as “thank you” and “good afternoon.”

TSS: Have you ever heard opinions about what tourists expected in comparison with what they experienced?

EŠ: Tourists once told me that they expected gravel roads in Slovakia and were surprised to drive on superb highways. Some of them still call us Czechoslovakia. Some did not expect internet connection at all, while we have free Wi-Fi at almost every corner. Along with the mobile phone signal in the Tatra Mountains: when tourists discovered the possibility of doing a live Facebook stream from Lomnický Peak (2,634 metres above sea level), they were really excited.

TSS: Do the requirements of clients differ?

EŠ: Yes, many times expectations are very high. Some tourists are ready and experienced so they know what to expect and what they want to see. On the other hand, there are clients who don’t know much about Slovakia, requiring advice and recommendations.

TSS: Which tours are your personal favourites?

EŠ: Every tour is my favourite. It’s not routine work like at an office. My tours bring me to different places, into different situations with new people.

TSS: Do you have any particular experience from any trips that have stuck in your mind?

EŠ: We have probably experienced the most fun on bear tours. Once there was an English guy I met in the morning on my tour. I saw him attaching a huge knife to his belt. I asked him why he was taking it and he said it was in a case he got into a fight with a bear.

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