Slovenia, overview of 2018: year of tourism, culture, bees and nature

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by Ambassador Mihael Zupančič and Elizabeta Kirn Kavčič, Deputy Head of Mission

 

The Slovenian Embassy in Bucharest strives to include the national slogan “I feel Slovenia – green, active, healthy” into all dimensions of its work, including cultural cooperation and the projects aimed to present Slovenia to the Romanian public.

The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Slovenian Rectorate at the University of Bucharest established in 1978. Every year, up to 30 students decide to take Slovenian as their second or third language. The Slovenian Embassy, together with the Professor of Slovenian language, tries to involve students into different activities, such as the “EU Market Day” and this year’s “World Bee Day” celebration, in order to bring them closer to Slovenia and the Slovenian language and – as our slogan goes – to “feel Slovenia”. Starting with the projection of the film “Panic” and the visit of the leading female actor Janja Mazelj, the Slovenian Embassy, together with the Rectorate of Slovenian language, launched a series of events that will continue in the autumn to celebrate this important anniversary.

We can proudly say that Slovenian novelists are well known in Romania. After the translation of the Slovenian novel Drago Jančar “To noč sem jo videl” (Azi-noapte am văzut-o) in 2016 and translation of the novelist Evald Flisar and his novel “Opazovalec” (Observatorul) in 2017, this year’s edition of the Gaudeamus book fair will see the participation of a novelist of the younger generation – Goran Vojnović, with the latest translation of the novel “Jugoslavija, moja dežela” (Iugoslavia, tara mea).

Cooperation in the fields of science and education is carried out under the ERASMUS+ programme, which enables the mobility of students and professors. Mobility at the university level is pursued in both natural and social sciences.

The Slovenian theatres are permanent guests at various theatre festivals throughout Romania. The theatre group LJUD from Ljubljana, whose main focus is on interaction with the audience, will appear at the “KaravanAct” festival in Cluj-Napoca, Oradea and Satu Mare with the performances “The Invasion” and “Streetwalker” in August this year.

So far our largest event this year was the “World Bee Day” celebration prepared in close cooperation with Fundatia Principesa Margareta and Asociatia Crescatorilor de Albine din Romania (A.C.A.) In the framework of the celebrations of the first World Bee Day taking place on 20 May, the Slovenian Embassy in Bucharest with its partners organised on 4 May a creative workshop for the children of the Generation Centre of the FPMR. The children, together with their teachers, the Embassy staff and the students of the Rectorate for Slovenian language in Bucharest, painted wooden beehive front panels, which are part of the Slovenian beekeeping tradition. We hope and believe that this kind of celebrations will become a tradition and a trademark of our Embassy and our proud beekeeping nation, which is the only EU Member State to have protected its autochthonous bee species – the Carniolan honey bee (Apis mellifera carnica).

All in all and we indeed share common grounds, such as cultural similarities and the way of living, the love for nature, and the efforts to preserve it. The territory of both countries is covered by pristine green forest and it is on us to keep it that way. Our similarities also affect the increase in the number of tourists in the recent period. The annual statistics for 2017 show an exceptional tourist year in Slovenia that is continuing also this year. For the fourth year in a row, Slovenian tourism recorded an increase in arrivals and overnight stays. Last year, we recorded over 4.9 million tourist arrivals and 12.6 million tourist overnight stays, which is 14.6% more arrivals and 12.6% more overnight stays than in 2016.

In 2017, Romanian tourists accounted for 1.14% off all foreign tourists or 1.01% of total overnight stays. The annual data for 2017 show 40.669 arrivals and 86.831 overnight stays among the tourists from Romania. The upward trend is present also this year: in the first three months of 2018, Romanian tourists accounted for 1,21% of all foreign tourists with 18.364 overnight stays. An increase is recorded also on the Romanian side: in 2017, almost 17.000 Slovenians visited Romania, which is almost 18% more than year before. This season Slovenian national carrier Adria Airways established a direct flight connection between two capitals. We believe that this decisive move will influence the further growth in number of tourist.

We are proud to say that Slovenia’s tourist offer is rather unique and among other includes a rich selection of highly-awarded wines. Luca Gardini, one of the most famous Italian wine critics, recently ranked Rebolla year 2016, produced by Simčič, first among the 50 best wines of the world. In 2017, the ‘best cook in the world’ award was given to Ana Roš, the chef at the Franko House in Kobarid. Gastronomy is indeed a very important tourist product and we are therefore honoured that Slovenia is home to a “Nobel prize winner” in gastronomy. After all, as we say in Slovenia, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Slovenia, with just over two million inhabitants, is indeed one of the greenest and most biodiverse countries on the planet. Forests cover nearly two thirds of its territory and one third of the country is protected under the Natura 2000 European network. It is considered the world’s greenest country according to Green Destinations’ international standards, and is a proud recipient of the National Geographic World Legacy (Destination Leadership) Award. Situated in the heart of Europe, Slovenia is a boutique country between the Alps, the Mediterranean Sea, the mysterious Karst with more than 11,000 karst caves, and the Pannonian Plain, rich in healthy water springs. Moreover, its capital Ljubljana was awarded the European Green Capital 2016 title.

Slovenia is also one of the first countries in the world to offer innovative and certified forms of Apitourism – a special area of Slovenian tourism that brings the tourist closer to nature and bees, which are an important part of the Slovenian heritage. Today, tourists in Slovenia have the opportunity to experience this tradition and take advantage of the healing effects of honey … all in close contact with nature.

After all, as you might have heard, Slovenia is the only country with LOVE in its name!