Slovenia hometown of Melania Trump looks forward to tourism boon

SPH Brightcove Video
People in Melania Trump's hometown of Sevnica look forward to seeing a Slovenian First Lady in the US and say the former model always appeared destined for big things.
The home of Mrs Melania Trump's parents in the small town of Sevnica, Slovenia. PHOTO: EPA

SEVNICA, Slovenia (REUTERS) - The small Slovenian town of Sevnica, Mrs Melania Trump's birthplace, savoured her husband's shock win in the US election as a likely boon for tourism, while a former schoolmate remembered her as "creative and innovative".

Until about a year ago, the town of fewer than 5,000 people, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, was scarcely known in Slovenia, let alone abroad.

But now, Sevnica is clearly looking forward to a financial spin-off from being the hometown of the 46-year-old future US first lady.

"Sometimes the pressure of the media was too hard. The people of Sevnica are not used to it. On the other hand, the global attention is positive because Sevnica is developing into a tourist destination," mayor Srecko Ocvirk said.

Speaking to Reuters in Sevnica's Central cafe, the smiling mayor said local residents had supported Mr Trump and his wife's campaign. "We are very satisfied at the result," he said.

Born Melania Knavs in 1970, she lived in an apartment block in Sevnica with her family as a child. When she was a teenager, the family moved to a modest two-storey house above the Sava river on the outskirts of town, which sits below a well-maintained mediaeval castle.

Residents say her father sold car parts and her mother worked for a factory that made a brand of children's clothing very popular in communist Yugoslavia, before the country fell apart in the 1990s.

Her modelling career took her to Milan and then to the United States, far away from her native Slovenia, a tiny former Yugoslav republic of two million people comparable in size to New Jersey.

"Even as a child Melania was creative, innovative and Sevnica was too small for her," said Ms Mirjana Jelancic, a friend who is now a headmistress of Mrs Trump's elementary school.

"She was reserved and when I heard that Donald was running I said (to myself) this will be hard for her. She never wanted to be in the spotlight," Ms Jelancic said. "She was excellent at her job (in the campaign)."

The head of the town's health centre, which received a donation from Mrs Trump in 2005 when she was pregnant with her son Barron, said she believed Mrs Trump would be a success in the White House.

"Melania will be an excellent first lady who will take Slovenian values of generosity, loyalty and trust to the United States and the world," Ms Vladimira Tomsic said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.