Felicity Long
Felicity Long

Selling a destination by touting its cuisine has become a tried and true technique over the years. Just ask France, Italy and Denmark, to name a few notable culinary success stories.

The newest hopeful into the foodie competition is Slovenia, which is looking to raise its profile in the U.S. in part by showcasing the cuisine of Ana Ros, star chef on the Netflix series "Chef's Table."

Ros, who was named most talented chef of 2015 by the Jeunes Restaurateurs d'Europe, was on hand at a recent Taste Slovenia event in New York, where she dazzled travel agents, tour operators and media with her wizardry.

The chef has become so well known in Europe that her restaurant, Hisa Franko, near Kobarid can require reservations several months in advance.

Quick to recognize her importance, the Slovenian Tourist Board has named Ros an ambassador of the "I Feel Slovenia" national brand (emphasis on "love").

Of course, one chef does not a culinary movement make, but according to the tourist office the farm-to-table tradition that inspires Ros is readily available in eateries throughout the country.

"Our culinary and wine products are well developed, and Slovenia is gaining recognizability and popularity as a gastronomy destination even among the most demanding lovers of top delicacies," said Maja Pak, director of the tourist board.

Organic dining is part of a wider dedication to a green, active, healthy lifestyle, which Pak said translates into the tourist experience.

"Slovenia can offer a great variety of health and wellness programs in natural spa resorts, adventures in nature [and] innovative niche products," he said, noting that Slovenia's location, flanked by the Alps, the Adriatic and the Pannonian Basin, plays a part in its diversity.

Consider also that Ljubljana, the country's capital, was named the European Green Capital 2016 and that Slovenia was awarded the first Green Country award at the Global Green Destinations Day conference in September. Green Destinations is a global organization for sustainable tourism.

And while the destination might not yet be top of mind for many mainstream travelers, the number of arrivals from the U.S. has been steadily increasing since 2006.

Specifically, there were 47,169 arrivals from the U.S. in 2006; that number climbed to 74,334 in 2015, not bad for a destination that received its independence only 25 years ago.

Arrivals are highest between May and September; most visit Ljubljana and the various mountain destinations, and nearly three-quarters stay in hotels.

The location of the New York event, the Intercontinental Barclay, was chosen because the chain is poised to open its first property in Slovenia next year, to be situated in Ljubljana.

Also next year, Slovenia will be the Convention & Culture Partner of ITB Berlin 2017.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI