Covering a surface area of 13,812 square kilometres and with around 670,000 inhabitants, Montenegro is a small Balkan country with a pleasant climate and numerous contrasts: canyons, wooded mountains and the sea. And these are only a few hours’ drive away from each other.
Montenegro is a country of 40 lakes, some of the clearest rivers in Europe, a Mediterranean climate, a quarter of Europe’s plant life, five national parks, the deepest river canyon in Europe, and heritage from three cultures: Slavic-Orthodox, Venetian-Hapsburg-Catholic and Ottoman-Islamic.
“We are a destination for traditional sun and sea travels, those preferring nature and for the business sector interested in meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) tourism,” says Branimir Gvozdenovic, minister of sustainable development and tourism.
He was part of the government delegation that gathered in Dubai late last year to present Montenegro’s investment opportunities to the region’s investors on the back of such a varied tourism product. “The on-going tourism development projects and the potential for further development of Montenegro caused great interest at the Montenegro Now event held in Palazzo Versace.”
Montenegro is one of the youngest countries in Europe, renewing its independence in the democratic referendum of 2006 and is rapidly expanding to become a very prominent tourism and investment location right in the centre of Europe.
“At this moment, there is great interest in the introduction of a direct airline connection between Dubai and Montenegro. Negotiations are under way, which will hopefully result in mutually beneficial cooperation. We believe that the introduction of flights to these cities would represent a significant step in the direction of better economic relations and a general improvement and intensification of cooperation with the GCC in all aspects.
“Airports of Montenegro have a very competitive pricing policy compared to other airports in the region, which is a significant incentive for better airline connections. There are existing models to provide marketing support for airlines that are ready to organise flights to/from Montenegro during a longer period of time throughout the year,” Gvozdenovic says.
The share of foreign tourist arrivals amounts to 89 per cent in our total number of arrivals and overnights. “The fact that Montenegro today has 300 per cent more visitors than inhabitants speaks volumes about the interest of various feeder markets in the country.” Traditionally, the most important source markets for Montenegro are European Union and the region, along with countries from the former Soviet Union.
Tourists from France and Germany have significantly increased. In 2015, the number of French tourists rose by 10 per cent, whereas tourists from Germany increased by 50 per cent, compared to 2014, the tourism minister tells TTN.
“GCC states are increasingly seen as an extremely important market for Montenegro, most of all in terms of investment. In the forthcoming period, with better and more regular airline connections, together with attractive arrangements, we are expecting a significant increase in the number of tourists from this market as well.”
Montenegro has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar to promote tourism. “The construction of Qatari Diar’s exclusive tourist resort in Montenergo is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of establishing a connection with the GCC market.
“We intend to continue to simplify procedures for the issuing of visas to citizens of Middle East countries, in order to have as many visitors from these countries as possible. The arrival of entrepreneurs from Qatar has also been announced for March next year.”
Montenegro has an embassy in Abu Dhabi as well as Trade Office to Chamber of Commerce in Dubai, and the future may see the opening of a regional tourism office in the country.
Latest statistical data show that there are 320 hospitality facilities in Montenegro, with more than 66,000 accommodation units. “If we take into account that investment activities in tourism in our country last year amounted to 30 per cent of total investment and that the annual growth of 8.2 per cent in the next ten years is envisaged, this is a clear sign that we are a destination that takes care of its image and wishes to improve the quality of the environment in which it welcomes its guests.”
Incentives for sustainable investments have been intensified by the government, there has been a significant increase of the investors’ interest in the construction of high-quality hotels and the reconstruction of the existing ones. “From 2013, a growth of 140 per cent has been perceived in the issuance of permits for high-category hotels. A number of locations have been earmarked for the construction of high-category hotels in tourist spots and town centres.
“At the moment, several capital projects are being realised in the field of tourism and this will significantly increase the accommodation capacities in internationally renowned four- and five-star hotels in the country. These projects are: Porto Montenegro with the luxurious Regent Hotel; Luštica Bay realised by the Swiss-Egyptian Orascom Company; Portonovi realised with the Socar Company from Azerbaijan and under the One and Only brand; Beyond Horizon with Qatari Diar of Qatar, and Aman Resort - Sveti Stefan, operating as part of the renowned Aman Resorts.
“We feel that the success of a destination does not depend only on the amount of accommodation capacities, but on their quality as well, since only in this way can a tourist destination be recognised as a place that tourists would like to visit and return to.”
By Rashi Sen
Montenegro by numbers
66,000 current inventory of rooms
8.2pc projected annual growth in tourism investment for next ten years
300pc more visitors than inhabitants
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