The Self-Governing Trnava Region of Slovakia participated in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) for the second time this year. The Arabian Travel Market is the biggest exhibition within the travel industry in the Middle East.
"Slovakia, the Trnava Region, and the famous health spa Piestany, located here, have been visited by Arabs for over 60 years. They have discovered the benefits of natural healing, water, and mud and have repeatedly come to our region," says Jozef Viskupič, President of the Self-Governing Trnava Region.
"But the Trnava region has much more to offer than just health spas. In addition to history and culture, local cuisine, honey, nature, and falconry are big attractions in our region. We need to make Arab travelers aware of it."
The networking done at the ATM with partners is important for promoting what we have to offer, he said.
The region presented specific products and packages at the ATM, including 'Taste of Slovakia', a quick trip to the most important places in the region and the country connected with a stay in Vienna.
TTN spoke to Viskupič:
Q: Trnava Region selected Dubai to host its first representative office ever worldwide. Can you explain the reasons behind this choice?
As already mentioned, the Trnava region has been visited by Arabs over the last 60 years due to the tradition of health spas. Typically, guests from the Middle East stayed an average of 21 days.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, many Arab travelers changed their consumer behavior and the way they travel. Our country is a hidden gem of Central Europe, and our region has many attractive things to offer. We need to promote it and attract not only clients who are familiar with the place but also new and younger travelers. This is why we chose Dubai, the hub of the Middle East.
The office was inaugurated in early 2023; however, the idea of working together was discussed at the ATM 2022.
Q: What are your latest tourism-related developments?
We are expecting the first international direct flight to the Trnava region (Piestany airport) from Tel Aviv, Israel. This is very important because we would like to prepare the destination and connect it with some of the GCC countries. Summer is approaching, so there will be a lot of festivals for young people, an event for vintage cars named Concours d'Elegance, medieval festivals at the castles, and a lot of sports and adventure events, including rafting and paddling.
Q: How do you see the outlook for your business and the region for this year and beyond?
A: We are just starting and are aware that we need a lot of marketing and publicity. Our biggest attraction is the health spa Piestany. Once guests visit, we are ready to offer other experiences in their free time – whether it is honey tasting at family bee farms, preserved castles and chateaus, sports activities on water or in nature, shopping, or cultural events. We believe we have activities for everyone in our region.
Q: In line with ATM’s theme of ‘Working Towards Net Zero’, how have you committed to reducing the environmental impact?
A: Our region, as well as the whole of Slovakia, is a region of nature, mountains, valleys, and green environment, which is our natural heritage. We need to protect it. So, in every aspect, we try to consider the environmental impact. For example, we try not to print brochures but focus more on the online space. Also, our merchandising is made of recycled materials. Our hotels, restaurants, and other operations are committed to reducing waste, recycling, and saving energy.
Q: Who is your target audience? What can you offer them?
A: We are aware that Middle East guests like to travel in larger groups of family or friends. We have the famous health spa Piestany, which offers a choice of over 60 treatments, including treatments. The spa is suitable for people seeking prevention of ailments or simply want a stress relief vacation.
Younger visitors may be attracted to various cultural events and festivals, tasting of local cuisine, adrenaline sports on local rivers or fast car tracks, mountain biking, shopping, or just chilling in the historical centers of the towns.
For kids, we offer educational tours to bee farms, forests, and rivers, where they can learn horse riding, visit castles and museums, experience living history, attend workshops, and create their own souvenirs from the Trnava region.
Q. Please name the top seven outbound markets for your country in the Middle East.
A. According to statistics, the top seven outbound markets for our country in the Middle East are Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain.
Q. What is the top travel trend in your country for 2023?
A. After the Covid-19 pandemic, people are starting to travel abroad again for summer vacations by the sea. In between, they are taking weekend stays or short breaks in wellness and spas in Slovakia. Skiing holidays in our mountains are also very popular.
Q. Do tourism products meet the requirements of visitors from the region?
A. Yes, many luxury hotels and spas are now ready to welcome Arab guests. Not only are the staff Arabic speaking, but they also take care of religious and dietary requirements. Many restaurants offer certified halal food (upon request), and during Ramadan, many hotels prepare late breakfast for Muslim travelers.
Q. What is the average cost of a tourist holiday in the Trnava region?
A.The average cost of a holiday depends on the type of accommodation, length of stay, and various short-day trips. However, if we compare it to neighboring countries, we offer good services at reasonable prices. The average cost starts from €600 per person per week. Our destination has a wide range of accommodation choices, from the most luxurious to private accommodations. The Trnava Region Tourism Board offers free expert advice to help you choose the best products and also organizes site inspections and fam trips according to your requirements.