TOP Slovenia Interview: Maja Pak, director of the Slovenian Tourist Board

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maja pak

We recently set down with director of Slovenian Tourist Board (Slovenska turistična organizacija), Maja Pak.

Slovenian Tourist Board

The tourist industry is an incredibly dynamic field of work, which knows no set work hours. Yet I love my job, for it always fills me up with energy, positivity, and new ideas.” says Maja Pak about her work. She started in the industry more than 25 years ago when she found her first employer in her hometown of Rogaška Slatina, for at least four centuries known for its healing spring waters. Her experience led her to the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB), where she has been in charge of marketing and sales and development of strategic projects for more than 20 years – the ones that contributed to sustainable tourism development tourism and helped increase the quality of life for visitors, as well as local inhabitants.

From 2015, when she again became the Director of STB, the national tourist organization has received numerous international awards and honorable mentions for effective marketing and the development of sustainable tourism. The most outsounding accomplishment includes the naming of Slovenia as the very first certified Green destination, National Geographic World Legacy Destination leadership award, Sustainable Destinations 2018 Top 100 Best of the Planet – Best of Europe, The Hottest Destination of the year 2019 by Virtuosos and many others.


Maja Pak interview


“TRAVELLING MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON” SAID TALEB RIFAI, THE FORMER SECRETARY- GENERAL OF THE WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION UNWTO. WHAT CAN SLOVENIA OFFER TO ENRICH US AND MAKE US BETTER PEOPLE?
Slovenia, with its 20,273 km², is like Europe in a nutshell. On such a small surface area, it combines the Mediterranean, Alps, the Karst, and the Pannonian Basin. More than 60% of its surface area is covered by forests, it is home to around 26,000 km of waterways, it boasts over 300 lakes and more than 10,000 underground caves. The incredible natural treasures have given birth to 15 certified natural health spas and three wine growing regions, the home of 53 different species of vine. We have developed 365 typical local and regional foods and beverages.

The country‘s unique geographical position influenced the settlement of this area in prehistoric times, and consequently also the culture of its people; Slovenia is home to the oldest instrument in the world – a 60,000-year-old flute, crafted from bone by Neanderthals – as well as a 5200-year-old wooden wheel, considered the oldest example of its kind in the world. Slovenia is dotted by hundreds of castles and their ruins, close to 3000 sacral facilities, every year we organize around 100 festivals and other events. Slovenia‘s tourism is based on sustainability, authenticity, boutique 5* experiences, and an opportunity for everyone to experience the tiny country in their own particular way, any time of the year.

A wealth of experiences, and a connection with pristine nature, which is becoming an ever-increasing gift, move guests from the stressful every day and replenish them with much-needed energy and calm. Every single time I return from my business trips I remember how incredibly precious the possibility of spending peaceful moments in a natural environment is.

IN SLOVENIA, ONE CAN GO HIKING IN THE MORNING, SPEND THE AFTERNOON ON THE BEACH, AND IN THE EVENING TREAT ONESELF TO A CONCERT AND CULINARY MASTERPIECE IN A CITY.

That is correct. Slovenia‘s specialty is the incredible diversity, collected in such a small geographic area. It offers a choice between multiple touristic products, sports activities, be it in nature or in sports centres, programmes for health and well-being, culture, gastronomy. Slovenia is also recognized as an organizer of high-profile sports events and business meetings. The story of the Slovenian tourism and 5* boutique experiences is created by people, who with their creativity, hospitality, and dedication, contribute to creating a truly unique story of success.

WHAT IS THE NEW LUXURY?
Today, luxury tourism signifies luxury in the sense of experiences -authentic, unique, personalized, filled with elements of the local environment, sustainability, genuineness, and surprises. Material goods are no longer in the spotlight, but the experiences that enrich the visitor‘s life. Here, I am mostly talking about experiences in natural environments. Based on a developmental strategy that Slovenia‘s touristic economy co-created, we focused on the development of innovative products, which will enable boutique green, five-star experiences for sophisticated and demanding guests looking for peace and personal benefits.

COULD YOU PLEASE GIVE US CONCRETE EXAMPLE?
Examples of top-quality boutique green tourism in Slovenia are glamping, as well as smaller boutique hotels with an original offer, like sleeping in a hay barn. Examples are found in numerous natural health and wellness resorts, which contribute an idea of natural healing springs to the story of Slovenia as a green, natural destination. In 2018, STB developed Slovenia Unique Experiences, a brand given to providers of the most luxurious experiences. Gastronomy also plays a vital part.

SLOVENIA IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE RECOGNIZED AS A GASTRONOMIC DESTINATION.
We are delighted to say that by combining excellent culinary knowledge and contemporary marketing promotion, we managed to create a recognition of Slovenia as a hospitable green,
active, and healthy tourist destination with developed tourist products. The touristic offer, of
course, also encompasses, gastronomy that definitely deserves more international attention.

We boast incredibly talented chefs, who are regularly represented in guides and associations such as The World‘s 50 Best Restaurants, Gault&Millau, JRE. In 2017, for example, Ana Roš was given the title of the best female chef in the world. We are convinced that with the help of our uniquely creative chefs and winemakers, often awarded for their wines, we will be able to develop the image of the destination worthy of being visited by even the most demanding foodies.

The title of Slovenia – European Gastronomic Region 2021 and the fact that Michelin guide is coming to Slovenia in 2020, will undoubtedly contribute towards achieving this goal.Our gastronomy finds its roots in a rich tradition, the diversity of the geographic space, and excellent locally sourced raw ingredients, which our chefs use to create gastronomic marvels.



Source: THE Slovenia Book