Slovenia sees tourism boom, thanks in part to Melania Trump



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LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — The tiny European nation of Slovenia is undergoing a tourism boom partly because it's the native country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump.

The Slovenian Statistics Office said Monday that some 1,939,000 tourists visited the Alpine country of 2 million in the first half of this year, a 15 percent increase from the same period last year.

Analyzing the impact of the Slovenian-born first lady on the tourism growth, the statistics office said the number of U.S. visitors has risen 15 percent since Donald Trump took office in January.

The deputy director of the Statistics Office, Karmen Hren, said despite the overall growth on the national level, there was no particular change in overnight stays by visitors at Melania Trump's hometown of Sevnica.

Born Melanija Knavs, the U.S. first lady left Slovenia in her 20s to pursue an international modeling career. The last time she is believed to have visited was in July 2002, when she introduced Donald Trump to her parents at the lakeside resort of Bled over a meal.

Slovenian tourist agencies have been organizing "on the footsteps of Melania Trump" tours showing the places where she lived, studied and worked. Websites promoting the nation of stunning natural beauty also say: "Welcome to the homeland of the new First Lady of the United States of America!"

Slovenia, which has become one of Europe's hottest nature destinations after splitting from Yugoslavia in 1991, has both a coastline on the Adriatic Sea as well as a chunk of the Alps.

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The Associated Press

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