Slovak Republic

Tourism has been of growing importance to the Slovak Republic’s economy. Following record numbers in 2019, international tourism receipts fell to EUR 1.1 billion in 2020, 62% lower than in 2019. This decline saw tourism’s direct economic contribution fall to 1.2% of GDP (down from 2.8% in 2019), with tourism exports falling to 12.5% of services exports (down from 26.1%). The number of employees in accommodation and catering establishments was 92 600, representing 3.7% of the total workforce in 2020.

In 2020, the Slovak Republic recorded 3.2 million tourists in accommodation establishments, the lowest level in twenty years. The number of international tourists decreased by 65.5% to 854 000 tourists in 2020, before declining further to 576 000 tourists in 2021.

The sector has mainly been supported by domestic tourists, with accommodation providers registering 2.1 million domestic tourists in 2021, down from almost 2.4 million in 2020 and still 45% below pre-pandemic levels.

In total, tourists spent 9.8 million nights in all means of accommodation in 2020, representing a year-on-year decrease of 45%. This declined further in 2021 to 8.2 million nights, 53.9% below 2019 levels.

The Ministry of Transport and Construction has responsibility for tourism in the Slovak Republic. The Tourism Section of the Ministry is divided into departments covering national tourism policy, regional and international co-operation and tourism state aid.

The Ministry co-operates with other ministries through participation in various committees dealing with issues affecting tourism, including the Working Group to Co-ordinate the Presentation of Slovakia Abroad, the Interdepartmental Commission of the Geo-parks Network, the Impact and Adaptation Steering group, and the Working Group of the Government Council for Vocational Education and Training.

At the regional level, the Slovak Republic delegates tourism responsibilities to self-governing bodies in eight regions and municipalities. Local and regional destination management organisations (DMOs) are responsible for developing tourism products and promotion. Local DMOs are formed by municipalities, tourism business entities, non-profit organisations, foundations and associations. Regional DMOs are formed by the regional self-governing authorities and at least one local DMO. There are 49 local and eight regional DMOs in the Slovak Republic, funded by subsidies provided by the Ministry, membership fees and other sources.

The Ministry established Slovakia Travel in 2021 as the national tourism organisation responsible for tourism marketing and promotion. It also serves as a tourism data centre. The Slovak Tourism Association, made up of representatives of the main tourism organisations, promotes co-operation in the sector and advises on legislative changes. At local and regional levels, tourism associations contribute to quality improvement, professional training and the sharing of best practices.

The ministerial budget for tourism was EUR 9.8 million in 2021, down from EUR 12 million in 2018. Of the 2021 budget, EUR 1.2 million was dedicated to marketing and promotional activities, and EUR 8.1 million was for subsidies to local and regional DMOs, mainly for marketing, product development and tourist infrastructure. There was an additional EUR 257.5 million for state aid in tourism.

To tackle the COVID-19 and geopolitical crises, the National Council of the Slovak Republic approved the Tourism Support Act, which established a framework for the creation of state aid schemes (see box below).

In response to the humanitarian crisis from Russia’s war in Ukraine, Slovakia launched the Help for Ukraine website run by the Ministry of Transport and Construction to provide more information on the available accommodation for Ukrainian refugees in state and private facilities. The website includes a reservation system to bring together these public facilities and hotel accommodation capacities. Moreover, the country approved a law called the Lex Ukraine, which will make it easier for refugees to stay in the Slovak Republic.

In 2022, the Slovak Republic worked on redesigning the National Sustainable Tourism Strategy and action plans for 2030. Due to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and a newly set up national tourism board, a redesign of the existing strategy was needed. A revised Strategy of Sustainable Tourism Development 2030 will aim to increase the competitiveness of tourism, better use its potential, balance regional disparities and create new jobs.

Redesign and state support for employment strategies in hospitality and food services is a key priority in the Slovak Republic as the country is facing a tourism employment crisis. Some workers have refused to return to tourism due to uncertainty and instability and instead stay in the automotive or other sectors.

Further, the sustainability of tourism is a priority. The strategy should set priorities and goals for the intensive and sustainable use of the potential of the tourism sector in the Slovak Republic. The Strategy will reflect the results of a co-creation process of the European Commission´s Transition Pathway for Tourism.

In addition, unifying all stakeholders that participate in tourism is a priority. The Slovak Republic is to set new information channels on a national level through regional tourism offices, the national tourism board, municipalities and private entities. In the 2030 strategy, the Slovak Republic will also set new communication channels between national and overseas stakeholders, especially in EU countries.

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