LJUBLJANA/BLED, Slovenia, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- The August number of foreign tourists in Slovenia was twice higher than in the same month of 2020, the country's statistical office reported on Friday, which indicates that the country's tourism is well on a way to recovery after being badly hit by the COVID-19 epidemic.
The number of foreign tourists in August amounted to some 585,000, with most of them coming from other European Union states like Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic and Austria, the statistical office said. In the first eight months of the year, the number of foreign tourists was 14.7 percent higher than in the same period of 2020.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, tourism represented about 10.6 percent of the country's GDP, which fell to 6.5 percent in 2020, according to the Ministry of Economy.
In 2019, tourism income from foreign visitors amounted to 2.84 billion euros (about 3.33 billion U.S. dollars) but fell to 1.2 billion euros in 2020, according to figures from the Bank of Slovenia.
"Tourism has not yet recovered this year due to a very limited international travel ... We expect that we will see similar income from foreign tourists as in 2019 only in 2024," Karin Jurman Marn, a spokeswoman of the Ministry of Economy, told Xinhua.
The number of tourists from China reached its peak in 2019 at 98,958, which was about 11 times higher than in 2010 when there were 8,896 Chinese tourists in Slovenia. However, their number dropped to 6,162 in 2020, data from the statistical office show.
"Chinese guests represent a big potential for our country ... The most visits from China are being recorded from May to October with a peak in September," said Marn, adding that most Chinese tourists visit the capital Ljubljana and Alpine tourist resorts.
Many Chinese have visited Slovenia's picturesque Alpine Lake Bled, which lies about 60 kilometers north of the capital Ljubljana and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country.
"If health conditions will be normal next year, we could reach the number of tourists we had in 2019 very soon," Romana Purkart of the Bled Tourist Board told Xinhua.