The Melania Trump effect has tourists flocking to Slovenia

SocietySlovenia

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In the first half of this year, the small European nation has seen a 15 percent increase in visitors compared to the same time last year.

Making Slovenia great again?

Making Slovenia great again?
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The new U.S first lady is contributing to a huge surge in visitor numbers to the country of her birth. The Slovenian office of statistics said that around 1,939,000 tourists have visited the Balkan country so far this year.

In June alone, the data revealed that visitor numbers rose by 27 percent compared to last year, while overnight visits were up by 22 percent.

Statistics also show that in 2016, 4 million tourists visited the country, which is double the country's populationand an increase from the year before.

Melania Trump was born in the city of Novo Mesto and moved to the US in 1996 to pursue her international modelling career. She gained United States citizenship in 2006 and is the first US first lady with immigrant status.

She last visited her home country in 2002 to introduce her husband, Donald Trump, to her parents at their resort home near Lake Bled.

Slovenian tourism agencies are using the opportunity to capitalize on the influx and have started offering "in the footsteps of Melania Trump" tours. The walking tour takes visitors past her school, the apartment building where she grew up and the neighborhood where her parents live.

Furthermore, many cafes are now serving Melania-themed desserts such as the "Melanija torte", which references her original name, Melanija Knavs.

However, this is only half of the story. In recent years, European destinations such as Slovenia, Iceland and Croatia have been growing in popularity as safety becomes ever more a priority for holidaymakers. Once popular destinations such as Paris and London have experienced declining numbers in the face of rising terrorism.

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