Slovak Republic

Tourism in the economy

In 2016, international travel receipts in the Slovak Republic reached EUR 2 483 million, up 13.3% on the previous year. This amounts to a contribution of 2.7% of GDP and 28.9% of exports of services.

Expenditure by Slovak citizens travelling abroad in 2016 totalled EUR 2 billion, 5.5% more than for 2015. The surplus in the balance of payments in international travel increased significantly by 67% and remained positive at EUR 460 million in 2016.

Slovakia attracted more visitors in 2016 than in any previous year. The total number of domestic and foreign tourists increased by 16 % in 2016 to over 5 million, of whom more than 2 million came from abroad. The five leading international markets are the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Hungary and Austria, which together accounted for 58% of international arrivals in 2016.

In total, 19 834 enterprises provided accommodation and food services in 2016, 1.8% more than in 2015. Of these, 3 489 provided accommodation services, offering around 63 819 rooms with 160 939 beds. The number of employees in accommodation and catering establishments was 113 900 in 2016, about 4.6 % of the total employment workforce.

Tourism governance and funding

Responsibility for tourism rests with the Ministry of Transport and Construction (“the Ministry”). The Tourism Section of the Ministry is divided into five departments. Responsibilities include: preparation of legislative regulations, strategy formulation, implementation of the Tourism Support Act (development of destination management), processing statistical data, administration of the register of local and regional tourism organisations, and marketing and promotion.

The marketing and promotion of Slovakia as a tourist destination had previously been carried out by the Slovak Tourism Board. However, the latter was wound up at the end of 2016 and its responsibilities were taken over by the Ministry.

At the regional level, tourism responsibilities were devolved in 2001 to self-governing bodies in the eight regions. Local governments in municipalities and towns also play an important role in the development of tourism in their areas.

Local and regional tourism organisations (DMOs) created under the Tourism Support Act are responsible for the development of tourism and the creation and promotion of competitive tourist products within their defined territories. Currently there are 35 local and 5 regional tourism organisations operating in Slovakia and co-funded from the state budget. In 2016, the Ministry provided EUR 4.4 million to these organisations for product development, tourist infrastructure and marketing.

Tourism associations contribute at local and regional levels, primarily in the fields of quality improvement, professional training, the application of quality standards and the communication of the best practices. Representatives of the seven most important nationwide tourism associations founded the Slovak Tourism Association in 2011 as a voluntary, non-political organisation of employers in tourism, which has been promoting greater co-operation in the sector and necessary legislative changes.

The Ministerial budget for tourism was EUR 4.5 million in 2016, of which EUR 115 000 represented the budget of the tourism section and almost EUR 4.4 million was distributed in the form of subsidies to the local and regional tourism organisations. In addition, the budget of the Slovak Tourist Board was EUR 4.1 million.

Slovak Republic: Organisational chart of tourism bodies

Source: OECD, adapted from the Ministry of Transport and Construction, 2018.

Tourism policies and programmes

According to its Manifesto for 2016-2020, the Government of the Slovak Republic intends to increase competitiveness of the tourism sector, while creating new jobs. To achieve this goal, it has recognised the need to:

  • Review the possibility of adopting more flexible forms of employment given the seasonal nature of tourism,

  • Adopt measures to improve coordination between railway and bus transport sectors and operators of tourism resorts on a year-round and seasonal basis,

  • Present the country as an attractive and safe destination and increase the number of tourists, as well as encourage them to stay longer in Slovakia,

  • Encourage destination management through regional tourism organisations and actively present Slovakia as part of its activities,

  • Strengthen the development of tourism products that deliver higher value added and cost-effectiveness,

  • Place more emphasis on support for the development of spa industry.

In 2013, the Government approved the Tourism Development Strategy to 2020. The Strategy focuses on two key areas: the quality of the tourism offer and the presentation and promotion of the Slovak Republic as a tourism destination.

The main priorities and challenges identified in the Tourism Development Strategy have been addressed by various initiatives in the last two years.

  • Establishing and launching the Slovak system of quality of tourism services as a systematic voluntary tool to enhance quality and increase competitiveness. The system also provides tourism enterprises with advice and assistance. The award of an internationally comparable quality mark provides an indication of quality to prospective customers and also serves as a tool for motivating employees to perform better.

  • Signing of an agreement between the Ministry and the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic to improve statistics relating to inbound tourism, and establish Tourism Satellite Accounts. The Ministry financially supports the Statistical Office in this work.

  • Studying the legislative burden on selected businesses in tourism. The study identified legislation with the largest financial and administrative impact on businesses. The findings have provided a roadmap for action to reduce these burdens and to simplify and improve business conditions, especially for small and medium enterprises.

  • Studying the macroeconomic impact of the introduction of recreational vouchers on promotion and support of domestic tourism. The study offered a systematic tool for promoting domestic tourism, including a legislative proposal.

  • Launching, in December 2016, an official network of three geoparks, which the Ministry identify as a new and promising sustainable tourism product, providing potential for the development of domestic tourism. The Ministry has developed recommendations and guidance for their management and functioning.

  • Running in 2016, for the fourth time, a competition for secondary school students called “Top tourist destination of the region”. One of the aims of the competition is to strengthen the relationship between students and tourism.

  • Carrying out marketing and promotional activities in neighbouring countries and those with high market potential. This involved participation in 17 tourism fairs in 11 countries in 2016.

  • Signing a co-operation agreement in 2016 with representatives of the V4 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) during their high-level meeting in Prague. The protocol on co-operation in the field of tourism aims to increase joint marketing and promotional activities in overseas markets and thus increase tourist flows from distant markets to V4 countries.

Statistical profile

Table 1. Slovak Republic: Domestic, inbound and outbound tourism

Table 2. Slovak Republic: Enterprises and employment in tourism

Table 3. Slovak Republic: Internal tourism consumption
Million EUR