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Slovenia- International Tourism Education

Around the world the tourism industry is seen as a prospective employer. Growing numbers
of trained, educated and competent people are needed to help run the hotels and
restaurants, attractions, travel agencies, computer reservation systems, tour operations and
transport companies that make up this vibrant industry. Many are needed to conceive, plan
and develop the industry (WTO, 1992). In addition, jobs and businesses are also being
created in other, “non-tourism” industries and in the public sector and it is imperative that
these employees, earning some of their incomes because people travel, also acquire some
knowledge and understanding of tourism.
Tourism education as well as training and research should, in principle, take into
account the requirements of the industry, as well as its development and trends. It has to
be adapted to practical needs, yet the link between education and practice is in many ways
dialectical. Simply adapting education to the needs and requirements of the tourism industry
has no future (Keller, 1999, p. 10). Education in tourism must also stay one step ahead
of the industry with new technologies, new innovations and new developments. These are
rarely developed and implemented within the tourism industry without suitable research.
The tourism industry needs tourism professionals who are well up-to-date in their education.
In the era of the new economy, which is bringing enormous changes to tourism, turning
it into an electronic business is truer than ever before. Changing transitional countries,
in which economic, social and political transformations continue to accelerate at an even
faster pace, must adapt to the international and global dimension of tourism and educational
programmes and simply cannot be left out of this process. There is a real need to
make tourism education programmes more comparable, to promote exchange and compatibility
within Europe and around the world. Transition countries like Slovenia and their
education institutions have to catch up and become part of the European (international)
tourism exchange education system in order to be able to support the competitiveness of
the domestic tourism industry. Since education and training have a strong relationship with
competitiveness (Gee, 2000, p. 2), it is vital to develop quality education.
The number of tourism education programmes is increasing worldwide. This thread
deals with the growth of such programmes in the relatively new European state of Slovenia.
It focuses on the roles of different partners in creating programmes: academia, industry, students
and society. International best practice in tourism education, European recommendations
delivered through European higher education development support measures and
international tourism educational certification systems (such as TEDQUAL) have played
important roles in developing the tourism curricula in Slovenia (Mihalic, 2001, p. 8). It
could be argued that the future development will follow these European, international and
global standards and that academic insiders will be the main force in this process, together
with the tourism industry, students and society. While to a certain extent these standards and
best-practice models offer guidance for curricula development, the latter is always influenced
by the national environment. Important topics surrounding this development can be
articulated through a range of relevant questions. What is the role of the growing tourism
academic environment in Slovenia? What is the role of industry? How industry and theoryrelevant
should tourism programmes be? Do the answers to these questions change according
to the time and level of tourism education? In what way should they change?

[ by Tourism at 3-13-2009 00:14 edited ]
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About Slovenia and Slovenian Tourism

Slovenia is a new transitional country located between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia
(Figure 1). It was established in 1991 by separation from former Yugoslavia. Although it
was a relatively independent republic in the old federal state, the separation brought about
an enhanced reorientation towards a more market economy. Slovenia is a small country
with a surface area half the size of Switzerland (20,256 km2), a population one-third that
of Switzerland’s (2 million) and a GDP per capita of EUR 12,000.
The beginning of Slovenian tourism stretches far back in history. The Lipica stud farm
with its famous white horses was founded in 1580. The Rogaška spa is more than 330
years old. Postojna cave  one of UNESCO’s world famous natural phenomena  has
been open to tourists for 180 years. Coastal tourism in PortoroD has been organised for
over 120 years and the first gambling licence was given to the PortoroD Casino in 1913 by
the Austrian crown (Sirše & Mihalic, 1999, p. 34). Nevertheless, in the old Yugoslav times
Slovenia was mostly a transit country for European tourist flows heading towards the
Adriatic coast. After becoming an independent state, Slovenia has intensified the development
of its spa, coastal, Alpine and countryside tourism, including its city tourism. Today,
tourism is an important economic sector and represents in total about 9% of Slovenian
GDP. Foreign tourism earnings, including an important amount of casinos’ foreign currency
income, are about EUR 1.1 billion and make up about 10% of Slovenian exports. In
2002 Slovenia recorded more than 2 million tourists and 7.3 million overnight stays; 1.3
million of these were foreign visitors who make 4 million overnight stays (SURS, 2004).
The figures on the Slovenian tourism industry reflect the country’s smallness. Slovenia
has about 150 hotels, 5 casino companies, 5,000 restaurants, inns, bars and coffee houses.
Around 52,500 people are employed in tourism. The concentration of capital among some
hotel firms started to take place after 2000. However, majority of the, about 150, Slovenian
hotels are medium- and small-sized companies. The travel agent and tour operator sector is
dominated by a few big tour operators and many small travel agents. Air transport used to
be heavily monopolised by the national air company Adria Airways and a small number of
foreign airlines and consequently a share of tourist air traffic took advantage of the cheaper
air connections available at neighbouring Austrian and Italian airports. In 2004, Slovenia
received its first low-cost connection to London (EasyJet) that substantially increased the
number of visitors coming by air. Other low-cost connections are expected to follow to
make Slovenia even more easily accessible by air. Slovenia has kept its role as a road transit
country for European tourism flows leading towards the Croatian Adriatic coast, which
have recovered in recent years following the stabilised political situation in the Balkans

Figure 1: Slovenia and its neighbouring countries. Source: Polikons (2004).

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Figure 1: Slovenia and its neighbouring countries. Source: Polikons (2004).

[ by Tourism at 3-13-2009 00:13 edited ]

Post-Secondary Tourism Education in Slovenia

Changes leading towards a more plural society and economy have been reflected in the
education system and the speeding up in the process of educational internationalisation.
Globalisation and integration into the European Union (EU) are posing additional challenges
that will have to be met in terms of increasing the compatibility of education systems,
credit-hour transfers and degree recognition across the EU and around the world.
Slovenian education institutions are trying to internationalise their programmes, foster student
and professor exchanges, develop joint programmes with foreign universities, as well
as establish international cooperation in curriculum development and research. At present,
Slovenia has three universities (Ljubljana, Maribor and Primorska), along with postsecondary
educational institutions that are not part of any university, as well as public and
private schools and programmes.
Several tourism-related post-secondary programmes are offered in Slovenia, with the
majority established after 1991. For the present study, a tourism programme is defined as
one that is officially labelled and known as a tourism or hospitality, catering or hotel programme
and in which tourism and hospitality subjects make up at least 25% of the total
programme. Beside such programmes, Slovenia’s higher education institutions also offer
a variety of tourism-related subjects that students with a different, e.g. non-tourism, study
orientation are able to take optionally. These subjects are offered at universities and link to
the primary expertise of the faculty concerned.
As set out in Table 1, tourism post-secondary education in Slovenia encompasses the
following programmes and studies:
● 2-year post-secondary programmes;
● 3- to 4-year post-secondary tourism programmes;
● undergraduate university tourism programmes that are currently confined to individual
and optional tourism-related subjects in other non-tourism programmes at universities;
● 1-year postgraduate tourism specialisation programmes;
● 2-year master degree tourism programmes;
● doctoral research studies related to tourism.

Two-Year Post-Secondary Education

Three programmes in Bled, Maribor and Ljubljana offer a 2-year post-secondary tourism
education in tourism and catering. At present, more than 400 students enrol in these programmes
each year (Table 1). Practical training in the tourism industry represents a substantial
part of these programmes, their learning process is very vocational-action oriented
and promises good employment prospects to graduates specialising as cooks, waiters,
sommeliers or barmen. These schools also offer a tourism specialisation, but these graduates
have little chances of finding a job in a tourism agency; so many continue their studies
at a higher education level.

Three- to Four-Year Post-Secondary Education (Non-University Level)

Currently, 400 first-year students study tourism at business or tourism colleges (see
Table 1) which are an organisational part of three different Slovenian universities, but in
Slovenia are considered as non-university programmes (sometimes called applied university
programmes). The programmes are primarily in economics and business administration,
but also offer more than 25% of tourism-related classes such as Introduction to
Tourism, Tourism Management, Tourism Marketing, Environmental Economics in
Tourism and Sociology of Tourism (VPŠ, 2004). In Ljubljana and Maribor students
acquire more general knowledge in economics and obtain a degree in economics. At the
Tourism College in Portoroz, the degree is in tourism with several subjects related to
tourism and hospitality such as Culinary, Catering Management, Hotel Management,
Gambling, etc. (Turistica, 2004). Internships in the tourism industry are part of this programme.

Table 1: Post-secondary tourism education in Slovenia

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table 1 B.gif
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UL, University of Ljubljana; UM, University of Maribor; UP, University of Primorska.
Source: Research Tourism Education in Slovenia (2004).
Table 1: Post-secondary tourism education in Slovenia–– programmes and optional subjects, 2004.

[ by Tourism at 3-13-2009 00:14 edited ]

Tourism Education at University Level

In Slovenia no undergraduate tourism programme that meets the above definition is
offered at the university level. Nevertheless, some university faculties offer optional
tourism-related subjects such as Tourism Geography at the Faculty of Arts, Tourism and
Recreation at the Faculty of Sports, Tourism Economics at the Faculty of Economics and
Tourism and Recreation at the Biotechnical Faculty (Table 1).

Tourism Specialisation Education at Postgraduate Level

Two tourism specialisation programmes are offered to the holders of 3- or 4-year vocational
degrees, as well as to university graduates. The tourism specialisation programme at
the Faculty of Economics (Podiplomski študij – specialisticni študij turizem, 2004) is a
multi-disciplinary programme offering tourism-related knowledge from the perspective of
many related disciplines. Since some areas are not covered by Slovenian academics, professors
from other universities (Croatia, United Kingdom and Finland) act as guest lecturers.
Tourism subjects offered at the specialisation level are Research Methods in Tourism,
Tourism Microeconomics, Tourism Economics and Tourism Policy, IT in Tourism,
Tourism International Operations, Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Geography, Cultural
Heritage, Cross-Cultural Communication, Operational Management in Tourism, Tourism
Entrepreneurship, Hospitality Management, Tour Operator and Travel Agent Management,
Tourism Law, and Tourism Marketing. Beside tourism subjects, a variety of more economic
and business related subjects (such as Finance or Accounting) are offered as options
to candidates.
The Marketing Management in Tourism specialisation programme at the University of
Maribor offers tourism subjects that study marketing and management issues of tourism
business, such as Tourism and Development, Tourism Product Management, Strategic
Tourism Management, Tourist Behaviour, Tourism Image Management, Research
Methods in Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Recreation and Regional Development, Internet
Marketing and Tourism Promotion.

Master Degree Programmes in Tourism

Although there are no university tourism programmes, it is possible to take tourism as the
main area of a study at the postgraduate level. At present, there is only one tourism programme
at the master degree level. It is offered by the Faculty of Economics of the
University of Ljubljana as a sub-programme within programme of Economics. Five tourismrelated
subjects are offered here: Tourism Economics, Economics for Tourism Enterprises,
Management in Tourism, Sociology of Tourism, and Tourism Policy. Students may also
choose a tourism-related thesis topic. Such a thesis is also possible at other university faculties
in Slovenia. Some offer individual optional tourism-related subjects at master level,
and/or send their students to take some of the tourism-related subjects at the Faculty of
Economics and promote combined mentorship through two institutions in order to satisfy the
multidisciplinary requirements of tourism research. Knowledge from geography, sociology,
cultural heritage or spatial planning have been combined with management, economics and
marketing in the last few years. At present, master programmes at Slovene universities are
academic in focus.
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