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 1.9 million tourists visited the Alpine country of two million in the first half of this year, about a 15% increase from the same period in 2016.
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% since President Trump took office in late 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 the number of visitors who stay overnight at Melania Trump's hometown of Sevnica.
Born Melanija Knavs (she later Germanized her name to Melania Knauss), the U.S. first lady left her native country when she was in her 20s because she wanted to pursue an international modeling career. The last time she is believed to have visited Slovenia was in July 2002. That's when she introduced the president, who by then she had been dating for a couple of years, to her parents during dinner at the lakeside resort of Bled.
In early July, President Trump and the first lady were invited by Slovenian President Borut Paho to visit the country. Even though the Trumps accepted the invitation, a date for the trip has yet to be set.
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.