Top Slovenia interview: Žiga Novak

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You work on some exciting projects, one of which is Travel-Slovenia? Could you tell us more about this project?

Yes, Travel-Sloveniais my own idea, which started more than a decade ago, but with not much time, it was just an idea. The idea came, while we were researching Slovenia and its hidden locations, but if I wanted more info what to visit, I had to search the internet or books, to get one final plan for our hike or trip, so I had to use multiple sources. And the idea came, to create ultimate travel guide to Slovenia, to have most of the locations in one place. The idea was not just an idea any more, it started to become something. After years of discovering Slovenia, today Travel-Slovenia has many interesting locations one can visit or get information about.

During my time of exploring Slovenia, I came across some great projects, with which I also started to work with, like Baška grapa and Farjovca Society.  In close cooperation we helped them to promote their local activities, thus changing Slovenia on a local level, and most important here was to promote small local areas, which are not so known to visitors of Slovenia.

At that time I also decided to extend the informational option, and to share personal experience while exploring Slovenia, so Trail blog was born. To provide first-hand information and experience about our travels around Slovenia. To give visitors something more and to encourage them to visit this places. As we believe, the first-hand experience of a place is the best information one can get. Start exploring with Travel-Slovenia and be part of this amazing journey.

With many e-mails from visitors, asking about Slovenia, what to do, where to go and how to get there, the idea came, to start a project Travel-Slovenia connecting Slovenia, to which Nomago joined, to offer visitors mobility around Slovenia. To further extend Travel-Slovenia, in this year (2020) we started with custom tailored tourism, where we take care of everything, from accomodation, transport, sightseeing and more. We just need to know what one wants: active holiday, more leisure, educational, historical … when we talk about their wishes we prepare the entire package according to their desires.

The other option, which started in March (2020) are free guided tours of Ljubljana with professional tour guide, enriched with AR app TaleUp, to combine technology with tourism and to connect history with present. The tours were well accepted, and we took around and share the story of Ljubljana to many locals and visitors of Ljubljana. Combined with TaleUp, we started to create extended stories with visual option.

There is an abundance of websites where tourists can find information about Slovenia . What makes Travel Slovenia stand out or how is it different from others?

I would mostly say that we try to get various locations around Slovenia in one place, and under one place show one can one see there. For example, if we take village Vojščica, you can get info about the village, but in addition to this, there are also separated presentation of other interesting things we can see while visiting this small karstic village, like Church of St. Vid, the remains of St. Justin (which can be seen in its might with Karst Heritage app, Tabor, cavern Vojščica, NLS monument, tomb to fallen soldiers, info about immobile heritage, elevation Grmada, Karst cave Brstovci and much more, like local experience on herbal farm Rogelja. All in desire to represent one location in full, and to show there is much more than just what is visible. And, for each location I take time to research it and to provide as much info as possible, not just general, but in more detail. And this is why, Travel-Slovenia was also for several time used as a source for degree paper or dissertation.

All locations are divided into categories, as this was the hardest thing to do, how to present all locations. And the answer was not simple, so I created categories and all locations are placed at least in one. And all from one place are then linked to each other. And all is further connected with Trail blog, to get once concluding circle.

A lot of passion and enthusiasm was and still is put into the portal, as I think Slovenia is most beautiful country in the world, which joins almost all natural phenomena – mountains, sea, lakes, valley, Karst land, plateaus, flatlands with many cultural differences and slangs. Slovenia is really very diverse country in a small area.

One can also read about Slovenian food, facts about Slovenia, history, Slovenian life and products, literature, historical figures and much more. All in one place.

What other projects do you work on in Slovenia that promote tourism and activities one can do while staying on the sunny side of Alps?

In this time we developed two AR apps, one to tell the stories of Slovenia and one for historical purposes. First one is named TaleUp , which is also used in free tourist guides around Ljubljana – to show various historical and future objects, for example tram, which once drove in Ljubljana. The goal of this app is to join as much touristic, scenic, historical and other places in one place – a lot similar as Travel-Slovenia, just in a different way, more interactive and immersive. More locations are coming in the future. The app is at the moment available for Android devices on Google Play and Huawei AppGallery, but at the moment it is in process to come also to Apple store.

The second app is named Karst Heritage, which digitally shows medieval church of St. Justin, which once stood on Tabor, highest point of village Vojščica. With the app one can walk around it, or go inside. Available on Google Play and Huawei AppGallery. The app is the product of Travel-Slovenia closely working with local Society Farjovca, and their desire to promote their village and local activities.

To extend our information sharing to visitors of Ljubljana, we started to make free guided tours of the city  in cooperation with Dragon Lines . A two-hour tour, which gives knowledge about the city and all its beauty. Walkthrough present, future, and history. And all tours are enriched with TaleUp app, to show Ljubljana in a different light. We also offer other tour guides around Slovenia, for example Bled and other destinations.

The promotion of locations does not end there, we also for example made promotional video for Themed path On our own land, graphics for annual Karst hikes Sage hike and Hike on Trstelj.

Other thing is also an interactive business card for local tourist guide, from Dragon Lines, who we also work with on free tours of Ljubljana. We showed an interactive dragon.

Travel-Slovenia also offers custom tailored tourism option, as already mentioned, we take care for the whole holiday activities of ones choosing and wishes. For more info we are available on e-mail travel.slovenia.en@gmail.com.

We noticed you also work in the field of Augmented and Virtual reality. How did you get into this field of work? Where does Slovenia stand in the field of Augmented and Virtual reality?

I also work as a graphic designer, in the field of 2D and 3D design, visualization of objects, animation, video, and later I saw the opportunity to make a step further and to extend what is possible, to break the boundaries and to do something more, and more important, differently. And since I also had Travel-Slovenia, I decided to join all the fields and this is how I started to learn and work in this two fields – AR and VR. And as mentioned before, we created tourist app named TaleUp and Karst Heritage. Other product is AR app LiveContent, which revives various contents – LiveLabel, LiveShirts, LiveBusinessCards, LiveMugs, LiveMatter and much more. In the VR field, we mostly develop VR walkthroughs for fairs and similar events. And we can create much more, the imagination can become a reality.

Slovenia is slowly going this way in various fields, and my wish is to be part of this Slovenian development, to promote Slovenia in most ways I can. TaleUp and Karst Heritage are just a small step towards that, more ideas and projects are to come. And hopefully TaleUp becomes known app for tourists.

In virtual reality tourism goes more in 360° video experience, on web or on VR glasses. But more and more people see the benefits of this to technologies, and the future will bring us many interesting things, where we will interlace reality with virtuality, and to better show history, present and future.

In covid and quarantine time I developed an AR Zoo, where one can step into other dimension and see and walk through it, and many more similar content.

How can AR be connected to tourism? What does AR bring to the overall experience of travelling, especially during the lockdown?

AR and tourism can in future walk hand in hand, as with AR we can more immersive show things that can not be seen today or there are just parts of them (remains). With that we can create rich user experience, better understanding of the history/culture/architecture/other and better learning and memorizing processes. For example, take TaleUp, which we combine with real tour guides. But with AR or VR, in this time, we can also talk about remote tourism, sure, it is not the same as we would be physically there, but it can give us a different experience without leaving our home. But I still think, tourism is still more about being present, AR and VR could be just something that enriches your experience while exploring, as an extension hand. And the option to show something more.

Earlier you mentioned the TaleUp app. Can you tell us more about it?

TaleUp, creates stories for walk, it digitally shows objects that once were and are no longer present or were just an idea for the future. In Ljubljana, a tram once drove, and there was also one that stood near Tobačna, and was in this year removed, with that Ljubljana lost it last tram. But now one can, with TaleUp, see it in real size on Prešeren square. More can be seen in front of City hall, take a photo with I Feel Slovenia sign on Kongresni square and much more. And it is used to enrich free tour guides of Ljubljana. It augments the logo of Natura2020, and much more. And new locations are coming, more diverse and even more interesting. In short, the app uncovers the objects around you and brings you the ultimate experience of the surroundings.

With more locations coming in the future, we want TaleUp to become known among visitors of Slovenia, foreign and domestic. With our partners we also augment their products, for example chocolate store Cukrček, with app we augment some of their products like Prešeren balls, Cankar chocolate and chocolate with salt, but to see what they show, visit their store. And each TaleUp visitor can get 5% discount on his purchase.

Download the app on

Google Play

Huawei AppGallery

At the moment, the app is available only for Android devices, but soon it will be available also for iOS devices. It is being developed at this moment, so soon you can expect this release.

Since you partly work in the tourism sector, could you tell us how the Coronavirus pandemic is changing the tourism sector in Slovenia?

Coronavirus changed tourism in full, not just in Slovenia, but could say in the entire world. The future of tourism at the moment is uncertain, and nobody can tell what will be. In summer we manage to make something out of it, but it was more locally, and in that time, we could see that major cities and regions are not that interesting. But is not all so bad, in this time people of Slovenia could see other parts of Slovenia, like Prekmurje, Carinthia and other which were until know not so known. VR could play a major part in this, as mentioned before, for remote tourism, which could be a part solution, but in my opinion it can not change the feel when being on location. AR will be also part of the changes that will happen. And this time showed us how unprepared we were for something like this, but not just in tourism, also in other fields – schools, industry, … And as a developer of AR and VR experience, I look forward to new ideas in tourism and other fields, and hopefully we will be part of some.

Seeing as you always liked to travel around Slovenia and discover new places, could you tell us which are some of your favorite places in Slovenia?

I actually like entire Slovenia, because everywhere you go, it is beautiful. Each location special on its own way, and that is what makes our country so unique, a diverse landscape and phenomena, nice people, good food, hard work and more. But if I have to choose, I choose Goričko and Karst parts of Slovenia to be on the top of the list.

What unique experiences one simply must have to try while visiting Slovenia?

That is hard to say, as people like different things, some come to see architecture, some come to learn about the culture or history, some just to go to the sea side. And is really hard to choose from all the unique things Slovenia has to offer. But, I would surely suggest to try local food, it differs from village to village, place to place.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment? Can you share any hints with our readers and what they can expect from Travel Slovenia in the future?

We now have some very interesting projects in the process, but everyone will have to wait for them they come out, but I am sure they will be very interesting. There are also plans with TaleUp, so stay tuned for new locations and augmentations.

Travel-Slovenia will work on in this way as it did now, researching and providing info on various locations, share personal experiences on our Trail blog, continue with free guided tours of Ljubljana, and to extend the offer of custom tailored tourism, for all who want something different and unique.

I would like to use this opportunity and invite you to read our portal – www.travel-slovenia.si or Trail blog.