Montenegro, as a tourism destination, is rising to the top. And quite fast indeed. The new tourism star, also a new independent nation, is committed to making a name in the industry today regardless of size. Tourism leaders have begun to take advantage of some of the unique opportunities available in this Mediterranean warm water basin.
Montenegro is a small, but most intensive and fastest growing tourism economy. As cited by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the country is committed to becoming an innovator and a model for creative long-term goals for developing tourism. Part of the mission is attracting numerous international investors who actively participate in Montenegro’s innovative approach. The WTTC ranked Montenegro as the number one top among top ten industry growers in terms of demand, topping China and India.
As a world’s high performer – defined as a destination set to grow fastest over the decade – the WTTC showed results that Montenegro tops the list, with demand growing each year at a rate of 10.1 percent from 2008 to 2017. It has consistently appeared in the top three positions over the recent years consolidating growth year on year. Its strong foothold in terms of performance is underscored by a sustained expansion in travel & tourism as a result of focused strategic development and targeted investment.
Speaking exclusively to Montenegrin Tourism Minister Pedrag Nenezic, eTurbo News learned that what the global tourism industry is witnessing is just the beginning of a strategic vision for Montenegro.
eTN: Who is your biggest market?
Min. Nenezic: Traditionally, it’s the region such as mid-west and northern Europe including Germany, Scandinavia, France, Austria, northern Italy and the UK, and Central Europe with Russia high on demand. Americans are coming in small numbers, that’s why we are approaching US travel specialists to open us up to the market. Of course, we promote together with our neighbors, not just as a single country destination alone. It is wiser to market together to promote the region as a whole.
eTN: How do you sell your country as a tourist destination, considering you are already way up the ladder?
Nenezic: Our product is already diversified. So we try to promote the climate, the mountains, the people, the culture etc. We put together all the elements to secure a kind of experience that delivers the ‘wild beauty’ of Europe, which Montenegro definitely is, aside from being a new nation, or rather a ‘restored’ country (as we used to be a kingdom until the beginning of World War I). In trying to create a story about Montenegro, we seek to make more people come satisfied with our invitation.
eTN: How are you able to grow your tourism at a phenomenal rate?
Nenezic: Our tourism has a long tradition, marking over 50 years in the business. But today, we’ve completely changed our strategy knowing that we can get identified as a high-quality tourist destination attracting traffic from the middle- to upper-scale markets. This is our target. We don’t only go for the segments for their money, but for their environmental consciousness, because we know they care. What we want to assure is low impact of tourism to our infrastructure and environment. Environment is a precondition to our greater development. Montenegro seeks a balance between tourism and sustainable principles.
eTN: How can you develop en-masse and guarantee environmental sustainability at the same time?
Nenezic: All developments comply with sustainability principles and the preservation of the country’s unique appeal. We make sure all projects (about Euros 1 billion in the pipeline) are very eco-friendly, have very low CO2 emissions, and follow green standards. Online are a mega-yacht marina, seven to eight new tourist resorts, several boutique hotels in the next four years and more. However, we have very limited developments to entertain such that in the next 20 years, there will be no more than 100,000 hotel beds to add to inventory. Currently we stand at 37,000 beds. We will only make room for 63,000 beds. Then we stop.
eTN: Why no more?
Nenezic: Well, we’ve already done the math. The UNWTO has shown key indicators and sustainability measurements specifying the capacity of the country. Though the demand is always higher than the supply we can accommodate. That’s always been our problem. We have high seasonality too. Montenegro has three to four months in the summer and two months in the winter. This is why we’re running after the MICE market, mostly from Europe and major capitals, as well.
eTN: Do you ever have to drop your rates to compete with your lower-priced neighbors?
Nenezic: No. We have to be very careful with the price-quality ratio, in that we have to increase the quality without decreasing rates. This is what we’ve been trying hard to do. As a government, we are trying hard to create the right environment and regulatory framework, to plan, to open human capital, to promote the brand and to drive as much capital into the economy in an ethical manner to achieve our goals.
eTN: So, do you have enough manpower?
Nenezic: No, not in Montenegro. We are trying to attract people and talents from Europe and outside, and import expertise and know-how everywhere in the world.