First Lady of the United States Melania Trump grew up in Sevnica, a small town in Slovenia. With a population of 5,000 residents, Melania’s hometown was once a relatively unknown place until her husband became the POTUS. Now, the town is capitalizing on tourism, offering Melania Trump-themed tours that bring tourists to areas where she used to spend her childhood.
Sevnica was primarily known for three things: a salami festival, a 900-year-old castle, and a lingerie factory, according to Redbook. Thanks to Melania, who now has a place at the White House, Slovenia has seen a rise in the number of American tourists by 30.6 percent and domestic tourists by 22.5 percent, NBC News reported.
As people enter the town, they will see billboards welcoming tourists to the hometown of the first lady. But what’s more interesting is that Sevnica is offering the First Lady Tours, NPR reports. The walking tours, which cost $90 for two people and last for five hours, include the elementary school that Melania attended, the apartment block where she used to live, the house that her parents still own, and the clothing factory where her mother, Amalija Knavs, used to design children clothes.
“A lot of people are coming from Europe, Japan, China and the U.S.,” Sevnica Mayor Srecko Ocvirk told the publication. “From an anonymous little town, we are now on the world tourist map.”
A Melanija torte (made of nuts, white chocolate mousse, and edible gold) is one of the food offerings in a town cafe. Also, a bakery in the area is selling First Lady Apple Pie. The fame that comes with being the wife of the president doesn’t stop there. A shoe store is selling a $60 per pair White House slippers, which is a gray-colored footwear with white pom poms. Designer Maja Stamol told NPR that there were 300 units of the slippers, but they’ve almost sold out due to its popularity among town residents and tourists.
Other products made in honor of Melania include wines, beauty creams, and salami. Although she is Donald Trump’s first lady, Ocvirk made it clear that Melania, and not her husband, is the main focus of the town.
“Melania was raised here, she used to be our neighbor. Yes, she’s President Trump’s wife, and that’s what she’s known for. But we want to focus only on her.”
Ocvirk, who never really knew Melania that much, believes that although she helped boost the tourism in the area, Sevnica would still benefit from sustainable tourism like outdoor activities.
The people of Slovenia may be happy about the economic situation of the unknown town, but not all are too thrilled about the First Lady Tours. Rok Petancic, the manager of the 12th-century castle Grad Sevnica, told the Independent’s Nick Redmayne in March that at times, the tours can get bothersome because so many people wanting to see the first lady’s old home.
But even with Melania’s rising fame in Sevnica, there are no photographs of her around the town. Her lawyers instructed business outlets not to commercialize her name or image, unless she approves, like the salami that was named after her. A master of ceremonies at the salami festival read to the audience a letter that was supposedly from Melania, saying how grateful she was for having a salami named after her.
Melania Trump, née Melanija Knavs, was born in the city of Novo Mesto, located southeast of Slovenia. She left the country in the 90s to pursue her career in modeling and fashion in the U.S. Melania became a lawful permanent resident with her green card in 2001 and gained citizenship in 2006.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]