Foreign tourist overnight stays (58.2% in total) continued increasing by strong 24.2% y/y in January, decelerating from 30.4% y/y increase in December, according to preliminary data released by the stats office. Foreign arrivals increase also slowed down to 23.4% y/y in the month from 29.2% y/y in December. Domestic overnight stays however increased by only 0.6% y/y, slowing down markedly from 17.5% y/y expansion the previous month, while domestic arrivals’ growth eased to 10.3% y/y from 18.6% in December; nevertheless, both of them continued increasing for a seventh consecutive month through January. As a result, the number of overall tourist overnight stays and arrivals rose by 13.1% y/y and 17.4% y/y in January, moderating from 25.4% y/y and 24.8% y/y increases reported in December. Most of the foreign nights in January were of visitors from Italy (13.8% share in stays), Austria (10.2%), and Slovenia (10%).
The tourism sector is a major supporter of local economic activity as it accounts for about a fifth of GDP. It has been the only positive contributor in the crisis years. In 2016 the number of tourist nights reached 78mn (whereas foreigners accounted for 92.5%), which represented 9% increase, while the number of arrivals rose by 8.7%. The record-high performance last year has benefited from the lack of problems related to the migrant crisis and lack of terror attacks as well as the domestic stability compared to other popular tourist destinations like Turkey and Egypt. Tourism minister Gari Capelli expects 3-4% more arrivals and nights this year, and an increase in investments to EUR800m, whereas EUR500m from private sources.