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February 24, 2015

South East Europe: Top 10 Small-Group Destinations

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Bled, Slovenia                     3,96

Bled can thank its environment and rich cultural heritage for the development of tourism. It is definitely among the leading Slovenian meetings destinations. The entire tourist offer is differentiated by quality and image. Activities and recreation are well developed and Bled is becoming the new culinary capital of Slovenia. The city is safe and tidy. It is located near the central Slovenian airport and has good road and rail connection to other congress markets. The weakest part of the offer is probably the nightlife and entertainment as well as shopping. Bled offers numerous congress halls and venues for smaller congress events, the hotel infrastructure of Bled is not yet adapted to the needs of demanding congress guests. The potential for meetings industry is immense, it just needs to be harnessed in the right way.                                       

Rovinj, Croatia                    3,95

Indented coast with over 22 islands of the Rovinj Archipelago, clear waters and rich cultural and historical heritage make the city one of the most popular Croatian tourist destinations. Tourism is therefore the main industry of the city, but it is highly seasonal. The cuisine is one of the best in the region and every year the offer of entertainment is improved. The destination is also perfectly located for exploring other parts of Istria. Among the main challenges is to improve air accessibility, the road connections are good. Security of the destination is at a high level. With the new development strategy, affection for the meetings industry is high. Ambitious projects such as the Red Bull Air Race will surely give wings to the destination, only the relationship between price and quality is not always the most appropriate.

Hvar, Croatia                       3,93

None of the more that 1.000 Croatian islands has such karma and recognition as Hvar. The island is on the UNESCO list of natural heritage and is the main adventure pearl of the Adriatic. Distance from the mainland gives it a touch of boutique smallness. The accessibility is limited, which is particularly problematic for congress and other business travelers coming for 2 to 3 day’s events. The renovated hotels Riva and Adriana in the old town can meet the needs of the most demanding guests, without missing good restaurants, bars and exclusive beaches. Well-maintained walkway connects the old part with the largest hotel Amfora, which is a convention hotel with a congress center and two large halls. For special events Hotel Palace offers a wonderful ambience at San Marco terrace on the main town square.

Soča Valley, Slovenia                       3,91

Variety of offer in a small space, preserved nature, Soča river, top culinary and wine offer, authenticity, rich cultural and historical heritage, Julian Alps and Triglav National Park give an extreme experiential diversity and attractiveness to the place. Soča Valley is located close to some of the key markets and it has a good communal arrangement. It is a tourist destination that is not yet besieged by crowds of tourists, it has outstanding gastronomic offer, visibility through the top festivals and good sports facilities. The balance between price and quality is acceptable, which makes the destination very competitive. Currently, the weakest part of the offer are accommodation facilities. Soča Valley is suitable for smaller boutique conferences and incentive programmes in the middle of genuine Alpine nature.

Opatija, Croatia                                   3,90

This destination is famous for its mild climate, which allows year-round tourism. This combined with lush vegetation and a clean Kvarner sea is the main reason for the development of Opatija or Liburnia Riviera. Connections with Rijeka are good, the city is proximate to major population conglomerates of Central Europe. With the renovation of hotels, which is in full swing, it will again shine with an upscale hotel offer. The ratio between hotel rooms and congress facilities enables the organization of medium-sized conferences with up to 600 people. In Opatija there is no hotel without meeting facilities. The accompanying offer with its well-developed incentives programmes and the offer connected by the Opatija Convention Bureau are very attractive. A rich gastronomy offer also thrills, with some restaurants at the peak of Croatian cuisine.    

Portorož, Slovenia            3,89

The climate, cultural diversity, access to the coast and experience index are the main advantages. For road access and communal infrastructure, the city gets the highest marks. There are on the other hand no direct air connections. There is a wide range of sports activities, cafes and bars. Congress hotels, history and references, quantity of appropriate hotel rooms and incentive offer are the strongest part of the congress infrastructure. There is no convention bureau or support of congress services. Portorož is politically stable and safe with well-developed e-services and a high level of professionalism. Ratio of quality to price is not the most favorable. Despite some weaknesses, Portorož has proven itself as resilient and adaptable many times in the course of history, so some innovativeness and marketing opportunities should ensure it has a bright future.      

Kranjska Gora, Slovenia                                   3,88

The most important winter sport center in Slovenia has among the Slovenian ski resorts the strongest brand, which is known worldwide mainly due to Cup Vitranc. Tourism is an important economic sector with a long tradition since the first hotel was opened in 1904. Slowly and steadily the place has also developed a summer tourist offer, which enables the development of congress tourism, for smaller meetings. Resorts, walking and cycling trails, mountain Bike Park, golf course, horse riding, tennis and swimming pools are all integral parts of the rich tourist offer. The place is peaceful and safe with clean environment and preserved natural heritage. It is easily accessible. Complete destination acts as a natural park, offering plenty of opportunities to disconnect from the city and a pleasant cooling in the summer heat.

Budva, Montenegro                          3,75

Budva Riviera is the center of Montenegrin tourism, which has developed because of the intermingling of cultural, historical and landscape attractions combined with the warm Mediterranean climate. The destination is known for its very successful marketing but has poor accessibility and current capacity selection. With its developed tourist infrastructure, Budva is suitable for all kinds of tourism and makes a solid convention destination. The offer is adapted to all types and forms of tourists. It surprises you with its relaxed atmosphere, the friendliness of the locals and the Montenegrin temperament. In Budva, first rate hotels offer superb conference facilities, but it is lacking a long-planned convention center. Budva is famous for its nightlife but of course it is necessary to reach deep in to your pocket for a proper and appropriate atmosphere.

Brežice and Čatež, Slovenia         3,74

Most natural attractions in the Sava valley are in the municipality Brežice, making it known as an area with rich natural resources. Lower Sava valley has an important geostrategic position because there are important rail and road links with good connections to European centers. The common thread of tourism development is the thermal water in Terme Čatež company, which is a recognized brand in the region. A small area offers facilities for organizing everything from protocol meetings to teambuilding programmes. Brežice and Čatež are therefore another convention destination of Slovenia, which according to the capacity, integrity of the offer and convenience is often overlooked. Improvement is needed, however, especially in its image and marketing, as at first one does not think of it in terms of congress tourism.

Umag, Croatia                     3,71

Hinterland of Umag has retained some of its primal nature. Olive groves produce excellent olive oil, and are interwined with vines that provide quality wine. Specific climate, cultural heritage and rich history excite tourists. Umag is nearest to some major convention markets in the vicinity. It has good road connections and is accessible from three airports in less than two hours. By connecting to the hotel chain Sol Melia Instraturist, the city has got a fresh wind and a higher standard of hotels. Sports facilities, from golf courses to indoor swimming pools complement the offer and Umag is from the summer increasingly turning into an all season destination. The city is also safe and very comfortable. Although the largest hotel hall can only accommodate 350 participants, the Istraturist team is ready to shake up even the tennis hall if a bigger groups come in.


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