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Exhibition Centre Boss Upbeat About the Future (interview)

Ljubljana, 29 January (STA) - Gospodarsko razstavišče (GR), the operator of the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, is marking its 60th anniversary this year with a positive outlook for the future. CEO Iztok Bricl told the STA in an interview that the number of visitors was expected to exceed 400,000 this year, an all-time high.

Best known for its fairs, GR has also started to branch out into conventions. Apart from hosting twelve fairs this year, GR will see four major conventions. A similar number of conventions is expected in the coming two years.

GR hosted several small conventions last year but this year's events will see between 600 and 1,000 guests. Bricl pointed out that guests who are in town for conventions end up spending three to four times more than tourists on holiday.

He said that two-thirds of the company's revenue is still generated by the twelve fairs. Six of the annual fairs are also organised by GR.

Events staged at GR attracted 380,000 people last year, while the number is expected to exceed 400,000 this year, said Bricl, noting that the total number of guests in Ljubljana was at 970,000 in 2013.

The two biggest fairs, the Home Fair (50,000-55,000) and Ambient Fair (20,000-30,000), are the biggest draws for visitors, said Bricl.

The company launched its own brand GR Events in 2013. Two major concerts were staged at the venue last year and four are planned for 2014. Four small concerts and 15 clubbing events will also he organised this year.

Bricl pointed out that GR was one of only three venues in Slovenia that could host conventions for up to 2,000 people. "Apart from us, there is Cankarjev Dom and Bernardin," the CEO said referring to the Ljubljana-based culture and convention centre and a hotel complex on the coast.

Located near Ljubljana's historical city centre, GR's exhibition halls cover an area of 14,000 square metres and the company leases and additional 10,000 square metres, "which is enough for our market".

The company is 30% state owned and has been slated for privatisation by the government.

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