Mr Ljajić: Serbia is a safe and undiscovered country

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić has said in the interview for the “Politika” that Serbia is not a country “of sea and sand”, but that it is reality that with all the pros and potentials it can be a serious touristic destination.

This statement is supported by the data that the foreign currency inflow when it comes to tourism in the first two months was 156 million euros, which is by 18 per cent more compared to the same period in 2017, that the number of tourists in the same period was higher by 12 per cent, and when it comes to overnight stay it was by 13 per cent higher.

Based on the forecast, says Mr Ljajić, Serbia could earn 1.4 billion euros from tourism by the end of this year only, which is by 200 million euros more than last year, and the reason of the positive trend lies in the fact that Serbia is a safe and still undiscovered destination, but also in making new airlines and visa-free regimes Serbia is intensively working on, which makes the arrival of tourists in our country much easier.

Minister has also underlined that in this sector he expects more work so that the positive trend will continue, and that internal reforms of the market have be to implemented, since there is a high level of grey economy which is estimated to reach 25 to 30 per cent.

As he says only in Belgrade there are 2.500 registered beds, which is unrealistic since it is known how many overnight stays we have only in the capital.

“This is why we are going to amend the regulations to ensure a lump sum taxation for all providers of private accommodation services and their registration”, announced Mr Ljajić.

Mr Ljajić: Serbia is a safe and undiscovered country

We are working in parallel on the project e-Tourist, which means the electronic check-in and check-out of tourists, which will make sure that at any moment we have available data on how many tourists visited Serbia, which destinations they visited, and from which countries they came from, and this project is to be finished next year.

Minister says that we have more serious investment in marketing and infrastructure, and that this year we will have the most serious online and television marketing campaign so far in the most influential world media. “Apart from the campaign itself, which will be led intensively on all individual markets which we find interesting, we are going to promote special offers depending on what tourists want – cultural heritage, active holidays, spas, fun, or weekend trips to big cities”, says Minister.

Mr Ljajić says that apart from the countries in the region our priority is also the EU countries, China, Iran, Japan, Korea, Turkey, and Russia, and we should lead special campaigns for attracting the guests from those countries.

He says that in the first two months this year the growth of the number of tourists coming from China is higher by 254 per cent compared to the same period last year, and that at this point the number one visitors in Serbia are those coming from Bulgaria, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, Macedonia, Greece, China, Turkey, and Slovenia.

He mentions that five touristic destinations stand out as the most serious ones, which were visited by 70 per cent of foreigners visiting Serbia. Those are Belgrade, Novi Sad, Zlatibor, Kopaonik, and Vrnjačka Banja, but we have to offer more and this is why we are going to work on the development of new destinations.

One of them are the potentials of the Danube, where we are going to build infrastructure and wharfs. “A perfect potential is Palić which we are trying to revitalise, and Sokobanja as well can become the second spa in Serbia when it comes to service quality<”, says Minister. He also believes that Divčibare will be more visited in the future, since the basketball player Miloš Teodosić is building a big sport centre there, and a camp for athletes’ preparations. With all that, we have to follow the trends, to improve our touristic offer on one side, and on the other to improve the infrastructure. This year 750 million euros are allocated to the infrastructural projects, but, as he says, it can be expected that Serbian Government would allocate more money for priority projects. It is up to them, he says, to ensure the arrival of low-cost companies, and the idea is to build small airports and equipping “Ponikve and Lađevci airports. When it comes to the capital, which was visited by one million tourists last year, out of which more than80 per cent of foreigners, announces new attractions. “One of them is the revival of Avala which should become a destination active all year round, where the plan is to build a ski slope with the accompanying contents, and Belgrade should get an entertainment park which is a topic of discussion with one Chinese company which is to rent three halls at Belgrade Fair and make it. The works should start in September, and signing of the contract is expected in June”, concluded Minister, adding that is the issue regarding the investment in Sava Centar is resolved, that will be a huge thing for Belgrade. Speaking of vouchers, which our citizens had available for the fourth consecutive year, for holiday in Serbia, from the beginning of the year we have had 45.954 citizens, which is by a half more than planned in the budget (80.000), and that the ski year 2018/2019 with the total turnover of 10.3 million euros, has been the most successful ski season in the last decade.