Mr Ljajić: „Next year’s priority are the projects of associated local tourism organisations“

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić has stated at the 9th Tourism Forum in Palić, that creativity, continuity, quality and communications are of key importance for the development of Serbian tourism.

Minister has said that it is time to have a realistic observation of our potentials and abilities since it is high time we talked about tourism the same way we do about football.

“Every Serb is a football selector and knows how the football team should look like, and now we have the same situation with tourism. There is no man who does not discuss it and gives his own opinion, which is not bad, but it is unlikely that it will give any good solutions, a recipe how to make these potentials realistic and achievable”, he explained.

Speaking with the representatives of numerous local touristic organisations, Mr Ljajić said that all the indicators showed that the world touristic turnover is increasing faster than the world gross domestic revenues. This is how in 2017 tourism marked 4.6 per cent of growth, and the world economy had 3 per cent of growth.

Tourism is developing faster than production which increased by 4.2 per cent, agriculture by 2.6 per cent, and even financial services which increased by 2.5 per cent.

However, as Minister mentioned, all the date demonstrate that a stagnation period in tourism is before us at the global level.

“The question is what’s the position of Serbia there, and what we can expect? We think, since tourism is blooming that we are going to become a tourism superpower. We expect the tourism to rescue the country from the crisis and be a leading economic sector, but that won’t happen as it has never happened elsewhere”, said Minister.

Mr Ljajić said that the direct share of tourism in Serbia in the total gross domestic product is 2.3 per cent, and it seems to be insufficient.

He mentioned that the similar situation is in other countries like Hungary – 2.4 per cent, Czech Republic – 2.6 per cent, Slovenia – 3.3 per cent, France – 3.6 per cent, Germany – 3.9 per cent, Spain – 5.4 per cent, Italy – 5.5 per cent, while a slightly higher percentage is present in Greece – 8, and Croatia – 11 per cent.

“But as you can see, it is not a leading sector anywhere. As it is an illusion here that Serbia is a country of agriculture, and that agriculture will revive the country and contribute to a significant economic growth. We have to get rid of those illusions and have a realistic observation of what we can and want to achieve in the sector of tourism”, says Deputy PM.

Minister has said that tourism in Serbia just happened, and that in the last two years we’ve tried to channel it to create it as a product of one organised systemic action of the government and partnerships of other, from the local level, government, various institutions, and touristic sector.

“The illusion is that every municipality should be a fantastic touristic destination which will revive that municipality because that won’t happen. Not all 165 municipalities in Serbia can be top touristic destinations, nobody has that”, he said, adding that instead of the conservative approach of a tourist we take from point A to point B, we tend to have, tourism should be seen as industry of events and experience.

“Before we start talking about the promotion we should define what product we offer. That is the task number one both for the local touristic organisation and local self-governments, and the task of the government is to create a formal-legal frame, make good laws and financially support projects in the function of tourism”, Minister explained.

The first thing, as he says, is to compensate the lack of financial resources, which is the main excuse, with the creativity.

The second thing, as Minister stresses, are the associations of local touristic organisations since our long-term objective is a destination management organisation which now sounds like utopia, but which we should seek.

“We should bring together everything we have, in the financial, staff, organisational and promotional sense. Next year we will have a competition for granting funds for infrastructural projects which will give advantage only to touristic organisations which are in associations, two, three, four or five of them. We won’t exclude individual projects either, but the associated ones will be the priority”, Mr Ljajić has announced.

The third thing mentioned by the Minister is the continuous education.

Speaking of the objectives for 2018, Mr Ljajić said that they were ambitious but achievable, and that in Serbia we expect 3.5 million tourists, out of whom 1.7 million are foreign tourists, 9.5 million overnight stays, and the inflow of foreign currency of between 1.35 and 1.40 billion euros.