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The event industry in Slovenia: alive and kicking after the pandemic
Business meeting in Piran. Photo: Mitja Kobal, www.slovenia.info

With its qualities – excellent location, well developed infrastructure, safety, diversity and preserved nature, Slovenia develops into a prime destination for congresses, fairs, and other business events.

According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Destination Performance Index, Slovenia ranks 36th globally as a destination for business events – a notable result if we consider the country’s size. But due to the country’s many qualities it shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to Maja Pak, the director of the Slovenian Tourist Board, Slovenia is one of the safest and most sustainable countries in the world, offering “extraordinary diversity, amazing green nature, excellent location in the heart of Europe, and friendly locals”.

The congress tourism includes meetings, incentive travels, conferences, and exhibitions. Slovenia offers many advantages for hosting congresses and other business events. The three most attractive national locations for these events are the capital city Ljubljana, the seaside resort of Portorož, and the iconic Alpine town of Bled. Ljubljana has been a congress town since the early XIX century: in 1821 Ljubljana hosted the crowned heads of state and top representatives of the European powers in the congress of Holy Alliance.

With its well-developed infrastructure and picturesque beauty, Ljubljana remains the nation’s number one congress destination. The topics of the conferences range from technologies, sciences, psychology, and medicine to areas like city marketing or even cycling. This June Ljubljana hosted Velo City, world’s largest cycling congress. One of the notable events is also “the conference on conferences” Conventa – a leading Central and Eastern Europe exhibition and congress on meetings, events, and incentive travel.

Ljubljana is constantly improving its infrastructure. In 2021, Ljubljana’s airport got brand new passenger terminals. The new Grand Plaza five-star hotel in the centre of the city offers 10 congress halls with a capacity of up to 1,000 participants. Sheraton also expanded its congress facilities in its Four Points hotel on the outskirts of the capital. On the ICCA’s cities list Ljubljana took 45th place, next to cities like Geneva, Zurich, Rotterdam, Tokyo, or Melbourne.

Bled and Portorož are also increasingly popular. The Bled Strategic Forum is recognized as the new version of Europe’s Davos conference. Bled also hosts, among other events, conferences on robotics, public relations research, and petrochemistry. In 2023, Portorož will host a global conference on suicide prevention, and a regional conference on nuclear energy – just two more notable examples of a variety of events taking place in this seaside resort.

Ljubljana also has the nation’s number one exhibition place – Gospodarsko razstavišče (GR). Over 250 fairs and events attract over 500,000 visitors annually. The most important are the Dom (Home) – trade fair on furniture and interior appliances, and the Alpe-Adria tourism fair, which include GASTexpo, the most important fair on gastronomy in the wider region, and Gelato – a specialised fair on ice cream. Another key event taking place in GR: IFAM, the most important B2B trade fair for automation, mechatronics, sensor technology, measurement technologies in Slovenia and the CEE region.

Yet the largest trade fair in Slovenia does not take place in Ljubljana, but in Gornja Radgona, a small town on the Austrian border in eastern Slovenia. The 60th edition of Agra, agricultural and food fair, attracted over 100,000 visitors and 1,750 exhibitors from 31 countries with Japan as a 2022 partner country. Pomurje Fair in Gornja Radgona also organises international exhibitions on packaging and logistics, outdoor activities, and safety. Another important trade fair ground is in Celje, the third largest town in Slovenia. International Trade Fair in Celje is small business oriented and attracts over 60,000 visitors annually. The International Industrial Fair is a B2B exhibition with “only” 13,700 visitors – yet almost one half come from abroad. A new event in 2023 is also B2B oriented: Komot, organised in May, will focus on public utility services, waste management, and water technologies.

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