The Slovenian Catholic Church is making money hand over fist from tourists to the country’s Upper Carniolan and southwest Littoral regions.
Driving the news
The Slovenian weekly Mladina uncovered last week the Church’s network of tourist properties in the famous Lake Bled and the nearby Lake Bohinj and Triglav National Park.
As Il Piccolo Balcani reports, the Stari Farovž hotel on Lake Bled has earned for the local church in recent years a profit of more than two million euros.
Tickets to visit the island on Lake Bled are also sold by the Church.
An average of 120,000 tourists visit the island each year, paying 6 euros per adult or 12 euros per family.
The big picture
But how did the Church come to have the money-making machine that is Lake Bled?
The center-right government of former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2004-2008, 2012-2013) gave the Church the buildings on Bled Island, while keeping the island itself under state ownership.
That was to settle a long-running dispute with the Archdiocese of the capital Ljubljana over Church properties nationalised by the regime of Josip Broz Tito.
The Archdiocese is still demanding the return of properties in the nearby Lake Bohinj and the Triglav Lakes Valley regions, where it has recently bought two hotels for up to a million euros each that it plans to now refurbish.
The diocese of Koper, in the southwest of Slovenia, is following the money-making example of the Archidiocese of Ljubljana.
The diocese recently unveiled a new facility in Strunjan, Morska zvezda, after spending two million euros on renovations.
Although intended primarily as a retreat house for priests, its 27 rooms – all with private bathroom, air-conditioning and wi-fi – will also be open to tourists.