Following huge losses in tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local authorities in the Slovak capital of Bratislava are currently preparing a “City Plan 2030” to re-engage departed staff and help the sector get back on its feet in a new reality.
In Bratislava, over the past two years, the number of tourists has decreased by 80% compared to the years before the pandemic. Last summer, the tourism industry was ready for at least a partial revival, but this did not happen.
“Tourism in Bratislava was hit hard last year,” said Vladimir Grezo, head of the Bratislava Tourism Board (BTB), an organization set up by the mayor’s office to promote local tourism.
The total number of tourists who visited the city during this period is still unknown, as there is no information for the fourth quarter. Grejo believes that the total for 2021 will be significantly lower than for 2020.
In the first three quarters of 2021, more than 265,000 people visited the city, while over 358,000 people arrived during the same time in 2020. In 2019, the city reported over a million tourists.
Vallo agrees that declining tourist numbers are a problem, especially for hoteliers and tourism-based businesses.
The mayor, however, noted that tourism is not the main source of income for Bratislava, and the city also has no problem with empty apartments, which are usually used as short-term accommodation for tourists. This is very noticeable in Prague or other Western tourist destinations.
The number of tourists in Bratislava had an upward trend long before the pandemic. Every year more and more tourists arrived in the capital of Slovakia, and the number of overnight stays also increased.
According to Grejo, the pandemic has forced Bratislava to refocus on domestic visitors, even though the Slovak market is relatively small.
In 2021, the number of domestic tourists exceeded the number of foreign tourists for the first time in many years. This trend should continue next year, according to Oxford-based Tourism Economics, which analyzed new trends in tourism.
The report says the world will not expect a return to pre-crisis numbers until 2025 at the earliest. Domestic traffic should have recovered faster, however, as some experts say, now the situation may change.
President of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants Marek Harbulyak notes that many households may reconsider their vacation spending in the face of high inflation.
“In particular, Slovak customers are currently overestimating their spending on leisure and leisure, which could lead to shorter vacations and fewer overnight stays,” Harbulyak said.
Grejo explained that BTB has adapted its marketing campaign and PR activities in 2021 to primarily target domestic tourists.
However, the tourism sector in Bratislava relies on foreign tourists, as before the pandemic, 70% of visitors came from outside the country.
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