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Sustainable cave management


Postojnska jama is a privately owned company that manages one of Europe’s most exciting tourist attractions: Postojna Cave, a karst cave system situated in the south-west of Slovenia, close to the city of Postojna.

The company was acquired by Marjan and Katja Batagelj in 2010. Since then, the cave has attracted more visitors than ever before in its almost 200 years of being accessible to the public.

“When we bought the company, visitor numbers were declining,” explains CEO Marjan Batagelj, who is a qualified geographer. “In the last five years, we have managed to turn around the numbers and re-establish profitability. Before we came, there were no marketing or sales activities at all. We changed this and developed a concise marketing strategy.”

Postojnska jama also introduced state-of-the-art IT solutions. “We know in real time how many people are in the cave,” states Mr. Batagelj. Taking over the management of Postojna Cave was not only an economic challenge but also a cultural mission.

“Bringing it back to being in the black was not that difficult,” says Mr. Batagelj. “To change the culture of a company with a tradition of almost two centuries and establish a market-oriented approach was the more challenging task.”

Postojna Cave is one of the best developed cave systems in the world. It consists of more than 20 km of passages, chambers and galleries that attract 620,000 visitors from far and near every year.

“93% of all visitors come from abroad,” states Mr. Batagelj. “Since 2010, we have succeeded particularly in growing the number of visitors from non-European countries.”

Postojna Cave is ideally located on the transit route between Vienna and Venice and always worth a stop. “And the Adriatic coast is not far away, either,” says Mr. Batagelj. Postojna Cave is a family destination. “They say that everyone visits the cave four times in his life: as a child, as a student on a school trip, as parents and as a grandma or grandpa,” explains Mr. Batagelj.

Postojna Cave offers a wealth of underground attractions. It is the only cave with a double track railway, taking visitors on a special train ride into the cave with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites in all shapes and sizes, an underground biological station and some unusual creatures such as the famous cave olm, which resembles a small dragon.

Guided visits to the cave take one and a half hours. Outside, a new exposition pavilion presents more than 1,000 exhibits, and displays the cave’s rich history.

Postojnska jama not only manages Postojna Cave but also five additional caves, forming the Postojna Cave system, and Predjama Castle, the world’s largest cave castle, which is situated only 9 km from Postojna Cave.

Postojnska jama organizes a number of special events in the cave, such as living nativity scenes, but not too many. “Our top priority is to preserve the cave for future generations and develop tourism in a sustainable way,” Mr. Batagelj describes the philosophy of Postojnska jama. “Man must never stand above nature.”

Another priority of the Slovenian cave and castle operator is visitor satisfaction. “Everything we do is aimed at satisfied guests,” states Mr. Batagelj. “All money is worth nothing if the guests are unhappy.”

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