Vanfleteren: Slovakia Still Unknown for Belgian and Dutch Tourists

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Kvacianska dolina, Zilina region. (Stock photo by TASR)

Brussels, February 4 (TASR-correspondent) – Slovakia, which became independent in 1993, is still largely an unknown country for potential tourists from Belgium and the Netherlands, TASR was told by Belgian entrepreneur Gerdi Vanfleteren at the Holiday Fair-Brussels (February 1-4) on Sunday.

“They still don’t know about it. They still ask – ‘Where is it?. Is it Slovenia? Is it Prague?’ I still need to explain that it’s a beautiful destination even for people from Benelux,” said Vanfleteren, who owns the Sojka Hotel in Malatiny (Zilina region), and has been presenting the beauties of Slovakia to people in Belgium and the Netherlands for 13 years.

He’s cooperated with the Slovak Transport and Construction Ministry in the Netherlands in order to promote the brand ‘Good Idea Slovakia’. At the Brussels fair he offered Tatra Tea liquor and Slovak wines to the visitors.

According to him, the Belgians and Dutch seem to be interested in Slovakia, but it’s up to him to persuade them that it’s a safe country with nice people, and with the euro as the means of payment.

When asked how he views the fact that Slovakia wasn’t officially present at the Brussels tourism fair, he said that it was a big mistake.

“It’s not only myself that I have to sell, but the whole of Slovakia. The first step that I have to take is to tell people that they should come to Slovakia, and only after that invite them to see me,” said the Belgian entrepreneur, adding that he advertises Slovakia as a country of beautiful countryside, castles, culture, unusual churches, lakes, thermal springs and sporting opportunities.

Slovaks make up almost 70 percent of the customers at his hotel in northern Slovakia, while 20 percent come from Belgium and the Netherlands.