November 9, 2016 / 12:48 PM / 4 years ago

Melania's Slovenian hometown eyes Trump win as boon for tourism

SEVNICA, Slovenia (Reuters) - The small Slovenian town of Sevnica, Melania Trump’s birthplace, savored her husband’s shock win in the U.S. election as a likely boon for tourism on Wednesday, 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 on Monday, Sevnica was clearly looking forward to a financial spin-off from being the hometown of the 46-year-old future U.S. 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 shortly after 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) in Sevnica’s Central cafe, the smiling mayor said local residents had supported 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 medieval 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.

Melania’s modeling career took her to Milan and thence to the United States, far away from her native Slovenia, a tiny former Yugoslav republic of 2 million people comparable in size to New Jersey.

“Even as a child Melania was creative, innovative and Sevnica was too small for her,” said Mirjana Jelancic, Melania’s friend who is now a headmistress of Melania’s elementary school.

Slideshow (7 Images)

“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,” Jelancic said. “She was excellent at her job (in the campaign).”

The head of the town’s health center, which received a donation from Melania in 2005 when she was pregnant with her son Barron, said she believed Melania would be a success in the White House, as well.

“Melania will be an excellent First Lady who will take Slovenian values of generosity, loyalty and trust to the United States and the world,” Vladimira Tomsic said.

Reporting by Gasper Lubej; Writing by Marja Novak; editing by Justyna Pawlak and Richard Balmforth

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