Melania Trump sparks tourism boom in Slovenia

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(AP)

First Lady of the United States Melania Trump is contributing to a tourism surge in her native Slovenia, the country’ statistics office said Monday.

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Some 1,939,000 tourists visited the Alpine country of 2 million in the first half of this year, a 15% increase from the same period last year, according to the Slovenian Statistics Office.

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 Donald Trump took office in January.

However, despite the overall growth, there was no remarkable change in overnight stays by visitors to Melania Trump’s hometown, Sevnica.

Still, the country’s tourism companies are seeking to capitalize off of the U.S. first lady’s popularity. 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!"

Born Melanija Knavs, the U.S. first lady left Slovenia in her 20s to pursue an international modeling career. The last time she is believed to have visited was in July 2002, when she introduced Donald Trump to her parents at the lakeside resort of Bled over a meal.

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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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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