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When Texas feels Slovenia

Each country is unique. As are the people who live there or come to visit as tourists. Each one is interesting in its own way and wants to be widely recognised and to attract visitors. In the race for getting a special place on the tourist map, small and young countries often face a more demanding task than those that have traditionally maintained strong roots on that map. How can we stand out to get noticed in the world? Are marketing campaigns promoting Slovenia as green, active, safe, and gastronomically attractive, enough?

Slovenia practically has it all. We are small by territory but large by quality. We are characterised by magnificent nature, well-maintained and safe cities, kind and hearty people.

We possess exceptional human resources, talents who spread the voice of Slovenia around the world. And these individuals who stand out are the best ambassadors of Slovenia.

One that has stood out of the wide selection of exceptional athletes is a very well-known basketball player, Luka Dončić. He drew the attention of the Slovenian and world public in September 2017, when together with his team-mates, he shone at the EuroBasket in Turkey and won the European Basketball Champion title. The euphoria was indescribable. And this success made history. The feelings aroused among Slovenians by the success of a Slovenian athlete are by far the strongest and it would be difficult to measure their magnitude.

  • Tamino Petelinsek STA

    Six partners : the Sport Media Focus Agency, the Government Communication Office (UKOM), the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO), AmCham Slovenia, SPIRIT Slovenia, and Ljubljana Tourism. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Texas feels Slovenia

It is far easier to measure the opportunity that Slovenia has been offered due to Luka's talent and recognition. Because it is unique. Just before new year, Slovenia was given an opportunity for cooperation: to partner with the American NBA Dallas Mavericks where Luka currently plays. We hope that the effects of this partnership will be multi-layered and visible in several fields: tourism, economy, mobility.

Six partners saw this great opportunity for a better recognition of Slovenia in the American market: the Sport Media Focus Agency, the Government Communication Office (UKOM), the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO), AmCham Slovenia, SPIRIT Slovenia, and Ljubljana Tourism. It has quite often been proven that we achieve greater success and recognition if we collaborate.

Dallas Mavericks will carry out the agreed promotion activities of Slovenia by advertising the national 'I feel Slovenia' brand for two seasons. Activities will commence with the basketball game on 11 March 2020 between Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets, when our brand will get special exposure. We will hold the "I feel Slovenia night" on that occasion.

  • Luka Dončić, the ambassador of the brand I Feel Slovenia and the outstanding basketball player of the Dallas Mavericks.

    Luka Dončić, the ambassador of the Slovenian tourism, and the outstanding basketball player of the Dallas Mavericks. Photo: GettyImages

The recognition of the I feel Slovenia brand is a long distance run

"The promotion of the I feel Slovenia brand on American soil to me seems like the most natural and representative way to promote Slovenia and everything Slovenia is. The time has finally come for Slovenians and Slovenian brands to confidently step outside our borders," says Tomaž Ambrožič, Director of Sport Media Focus.

Strengthening the national brand is a long distance run, as emphasised by Mateja Malnar Štembal of the Government Communication Office, who also believes that this cooperation will bring grand results.

"The power and recognition of the I feel Slovenia brand have spread strongly. We are a small country where partial activities do not bring major success. Unique approaches on a massive scale, such as this project, are those that attract interest and people. Sport has a chain effect that connects people in a soft manner, strengthens pride and the sense of affiliation. We also have excellent fans who play a special role by making every game the venue where Slovenia can be felt. To feel Slovenia does not only mean to crown ourselves with national symbols. It is a way to export an emotional experience," Malnar says.

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"The Americans rank third among the most frequent tourists to Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia); therefore, it is very important to strengthen recognition in the US market. This was also confirmed today by Maja Pak, the Director of the Slovenian Tourist Board.These are guests who spend more than the average tourist, and like to travel in the off peak-season. We have noted a constant rise in the number of American guests, especially in the past 3 years. Last year, there were 8 per cent more guests coming from America," Pak says.

A sport event that is also a business one

Besides strengthened collaboration in tourism, Slovenia is also looking forward to new business cooperation. Slovenian companies will have the opportunity to present themselves at a special business conference in Texas entitled "Texas feels Slovenia" which will be held a day after the game, i.e. on Thursday, 12 March 2020.

This gives Slovenia a chance to be presented to Texas as a potential business partner. The State of Texas is the 10th largest economy in the world according to its GDP.

Opening doors to the American world of business does not just happen overnight, and is also a long distance run. "We have to approach this with a lot of thought, and strategically. Entering the market through the "Texas feels Slovenia" conference is much easier; therefore, this is a very important event organised by all state institutions which are project partners," Ajša Vodnik, the Director of AmCham Slovenia, says.

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    Luka Dončić with his Slovenian fans. Photo: Jurček Žmauc/STA

Slovenia has never had such a strong ambassador in the United States of America as basketball player Luka Dončić is. A Luka Dončić Mania is happening in Texas right now. This is not surprising, since Luka is quite a charming athlete. This modest and pleasant 20-year-old basketball player never forgets to mention where he comes from.

He is an exceptionally talented player, the foundation of the Dallas Mavericks’ franchise future. According to Ambrožič, connecting Slovenia and the team will bring benefits to both sides and this collaboration will most probably remain for long term.

Author: Katja Križnar

Date: 1. January 2020

Time to read: 2 min