Slovenia’s second city saw a surge in visitor numbers last year, with the local tourism industry reporting having surpassed the record year of 2012 when Maribor held the title of European Capital of Culture.
While not all the data are in yet, the head of the local tourism board, Janja Viher, says Maribor and the nearby slopes of Pohorje saw a 20 % growth in overnights and a 15 % rise in visitors by November. “This shows the promotion activities have been well targeted.” she has told the STA, identifying sporting events, convention tourism and active holidays as the attributes worth building on.
Maribor and Pohorje recorded over 345,000 overnight stays in the eleven months to the end of November, 264,000 alone in the Maribor municipality. They attracted a total of almost 147,000 visitors. As many as 77 % of the visitors came from abroad, most of them from Germany, followed by tourists from Austria, Italy, and former Yugoslavia.
Growing numbers are coming from Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as Great Britain and other parts of the world. Viher attributed good results to the linking up between small providers of accommodation, additional offerings by spa and hotel operator Terme Maribor, and several large sporting events held last year. One big attraction is St. Martin’s Festival of new wine in November, which last year drew a crowd of 25,000 to the city’s main square.
The local tourism board would like to change the approach to tourism promotion at the national level to get the eastern half of the country on the tourism map aside from Ljubljana, Bled and Portorož. “Ljubljana is the capital and we cannot match it in this way, but we can build on Slovenia’s recognition and on boosting visitor numbers through a joint approach.” Maribor has high hopes for the scheduled flights that are being launched soon between the local airport and Germany’s Düsseldorf, as well as other potential air links.