Interview: The Slovak Republic on the corona crisis

OTDYKH Leisure team continues to work with partners and clients during the coronavirus crisis. We are undertaking a series of short interviews with heads of international tourism boards on their experience, forecasts, recent updates and tips during forced isolation.

As part of our interview series, Ms. Lubica Alushitsova from the Slovak Republic Foreign Representative Office for Tourism, shared her experiences with our team.

How are you feeling today? In what format do you and your colleagues continue to work?

My mood is optimistic with the hope that tourism and travel aren’t going anywhere, and in this spirit, I continue my work in Russia — just online for now, but I am already slowly planning, my events for September and until the end of 2020.

It’s important now not to cut off communication with partners and clients. Could you share you experience with Russian and international colleagues, how do you continue promoting your destination in a situation where borders are closed?

Promotion right now, unfortunately, is online only — information about the situation in Slovakia, news from Slovak tourism entities, videos, virtual city walks and e-learning of sorts on social media and on the national tourism portal of Slovakia, webinars, competitions.

Forecasts are now made very carefully, but still... According to your assessment, when do you expect tourist flow recovery, including from Russia?

Currently, quarantine and all restrictive measures in Slovakia are being relaxed — the process was divided into 4 stages, the 1st stage has already been successfully completed, the 2nd and 3rd stages were combined and started on May 6th, 2020. If all goes well, the last 4th stage should start on May 20th, and almost all restrictions in Slovakia will be lifted. Negotiations are currently under way between the governments of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria to open the borders between them for the citizens of these countries. As for opening the borders for tourists from other countries, including, of course, from Russia — it depends not only on Slovakia’s decision, but on other Schengen countries, on air traffic resumption and on the epidemiological situation in the countries from where those tourists would be coming from. I don’t think it will be possible to return to previous tourism numbers in 2020, but I still look forward to the future with hope and I am sure some changes in this regard could appear closer to autumn. That would be great!

One last question. Let’s imagine we are on the verge of ending the pandemic. Where would you personally go immediately after all borders open and transport logistics are restored?

Where would I go? Where will I go when the borders open? Home to Slovakia. And after a vacation in Slovakia — back to work and trips to Russia with presentations and workshops. I already miss going to meetings with Russian partners and colleagues!