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Tour Operators Want Govt Aid

Ljubljana, 20 April (STA) - Tour operators urged the government Tuesday to help the Slovenian tourism sector cope with the fallout from the Icelandic volcano eruption, which has brought air transport in Europe to a standstill.

Loss of revenue will be huge, the Association of Tour Operators said in a statement. It urged the government to draw up a proposal for state aid.

But whereas tour operators are sounding the alarm, the Economics Ministry said that the impact on tourism is more limited than elsewhere as the sector does not rely on the aviation sector to such an extent.

If the volcanic eruption lasts very long, this would be "a global disaster", the head of the ministry's Tourism Directorate Marjan Hribar told the STA.

However, Slovenia would probably not suffer as much as other countries considering its proximity to the main source countries of tourism, he added.

Over 1.6 million foreign tourists visited Slovenia last year, according to the Statistics office, the bulk coming from neighbouring Italy and Austria, and Germany, the UK, Croatia and the Netherlands.

The Slovenian Tourism Board labelled the closure of airspace over Europe due to the volcanic ash cloud "a big blow to tourism".

It said in a statement that this week alone Slovenia will have lost 10,000-15,000 overnight stays as a result.

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