Mr Ljajić: We are introducing electronic registration of tourists

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić has stated for the Tanjug that due to the non-registration of tourists and significant amounts of money lost by the government, the line Ministry has launched the project of electronic registration of tourists and flat-rate taxation of those who rent “an apartment for a day”, in order to tackle this issue.

Mr Ljajić says that one third of the tourists spending their holidays in Serbia is not registered, they are accommodated usually in illegal accommodation, private apartments, houses, weekend houses, and the owners of those “hotels” do not pay tax for that not register their guests.

“Though it is hard to talk about precise figures, 30 per cent of the tourists stay in Serbia without being registered and we cannot register them. The touristic inspection cannot go to those apartments, and no other inspection can do it without the police warrant, but then again the police cannot do it without the court decision. Therefore it’s a vicious circle”, says Mr Ljajić.

Ljajić: Uvešćemo elektronsku prijavu turista

Since these tourists are not covered by the official registration in the illegal accommodation, and the Police has no data, which is the practice in the world when it comes to the movement and stay of foreigners in a country, it is not possible to have a real picture on longer stays of guests in touristic centres in Serbia.

“We are working of the e-Tourists project, trying to introduce the electronic registration and deregistration, registration of the residence tax in order to have a precise number of tourists and in order to have accurate data on their number”, says Minister.

According to the data of the Statistical Office of Serbia, in 2017 there were 3.085.866 tourists in Serbia, out of which 1.588.693 domestic, and 1.497.173 foreign tourists, which makes it 49 per cent of foreign tourists in total.

There were more than 8.3 million overnight stays, out of which 38 per cent were the guests from abroad, and only in January this year the foreign currency inflow increased by 21 per cent compared to the last year.

However, says Mr Ljajić, since not all guests are registered, the actual number of tourists is even higher.

“Actual results of the number of tourists are significantly higher than those we state, since we have a huge gray zone we are trying to reduce with the project e-Tourist, and the project of flat-rate taxation of physical entities providing accommodation”, says Mr Ljajić.

It’s a paradox that in Novi Sad there are 215 categories of private accommodation, in Belgrade 2.500, and that the number of tourists in Serbia exceeds that figure by three million, he says.

“We have to motivate those providing the accommodation, to make the incentives for the flat-rate taxation they will pay so that it is motivational enough, not to be so high, in order to make them realise it is in their interest to register the tourists and enter legal flows”, says Deputy Prime Minister, adding that it is important also because of the safety challenges.

To the question of whether there is a safety risk since the government has no records on who the foreigners who stay in the non-registered apartments are, Mr Ljajić says that one of the main “advantages of Serbia” in attracting foreign tourists is the stability and safety the foreigners feel in Serbia.

As he has said, there are no registered incidents or indications that those staying in some of our illegal “hostels” pose a threat to the citizens and the government.

Mr Ljajić concludes that this touristic season has started positively and that the expectations are it will exceed the lays year’s number of tourists, including the amount of income the government will earn from tourism.

As an illustration of a good start of the season is that in the first three months this year there have been 32 thousand vouchers given away for holidays in Serbia, which is, as he points out, by 30 per cent more than in the same period la