May 25, 2017 / 10:19 AM / 3 months ago

Melania factor boosts tourism in Slovenia

U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Queen Fabiola Children's University hospital in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017.Hannah Mckay

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The number of tourists in Slovenia rose by 8 percent year-on-year in March, boosted by the fact that new U.S. First Lady Melania Trump was born in the country.

Overnight stays in Slovenia by tourists from the United States jumped 30.6 percent while the number of domestic tourists rose by 22.5 percent, the statistics office said on Thursday.

Analysts said domestic tourist figures reflected improved economic conditions in Slovenia, a country which narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013 but expects economic growth of 3.6 percent this year versus 2.5 percent in 2016.

The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent in March, down from 12 percent in the same month last year.

The statistics office also said business sentiment in May reached 9.5 points, lower than in April but 5.7 points higher than a year ago, mainly due to improved confidence among consumers and in the service sector.

Reporting by Marja Novak, editing by Ed Osmond

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