If a relatively young country has an ambition of becoming a popular tourist destination, it usually has to work hard to achieve such a goal. It is important to try to promote the country through as many different channels as possible.
Slovenia definitely falls into that category (Slovenia has been an independent country since its separation from Yugoslavia in 1991). Slovenian Tourist Board is trying hard to raise the level of worldwide awareness but that is not enough.
In my opinion, sports can also help at least a little bit. In some cases much more then just a little bit.
Recent qualification of Slovenian national soccer team for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa is an excellent example of just that. Many people started wondering where this soccer team, competing with English and US teams is coming from. Slovenia? Where the heck is Slovenia?
You might think I am exaggerating. How can a couple of soccer matches be compared to years of work of a bunch of politicians, diplomats and tourist promoters?
Well it actually can be... and I've got proof of that. It is called Google trends.
For those of you who haven't heard of this before, "with Google Trends you can compare the world’s interest in your favourite topics", as Google puts it. In other words, with this tool you can compare what people were searching for through Google.
For instance if you enter "where is slovenia, slovenia map" you get the below graph.
You can notice a strange change of pattern at the far right-hand side of the graph. If you take a closer look at that period of time - for instance the last month of data, you can see something similar to the screen-shot bellow.
I guess some of you already know where this is heading... Those two peaks in the graph mean that on the 13th and 18th of June 2010 there were an unusually high number of people entering those two queries into Google search engine.
If you take a look at the last screenshot you can see the final hint. It says: "Slovenia, US draw 2-2". In this case I have added "slovenia" to previous two search strings and got an even more explicit result.
Yes, it was football (or soccer as Americans tend to call it). Slovenia was playing with Algeria on 13th of June and USA on 18th of June. Interesting isn't it?
Let me end this with a prediction. Since today (23th of June) the Slovenian national team is playing with the English, I expect a similar rise to be seen on the graph. I don't dare to even speculate what would happen if we make it to the Round of 16 or even to the Quarter-finals. Let us just wait and see.