Serbia is an excellent destination for all seasons, claims Marija Labović, the director of National Tourism Organization of Serbia, however, autumn is always special and full of surprises
October brings many creative challenges for the National Tourism Organization of Serbia. Starting from presentations at foreign tourism fairs to enhancing the wealth of content offered to all beauty lovers of this country. Marija Labović, the director of TOS welcomes the new season with great enthusiasm.
What are the general plans of TOS for the upcoming season?
The Tourist Organization of Serbia welcomes autumn in the sign of Serbian tradition and UNESCO heritage. October is dedicated to this, the month in which Serbia’s tourism potential is presented at major tourism fairs in France and Italy. Also, none of the largest tourism fairs in London WTM will pass without the participation of Serbia. The Serbian Tourism Organization was nominated for Best Digital Campaign last year.
A campaign called “Look at Serbia – what moments you will remember this summer” promoted the most beautiful areas of our country in short video clips on social networks that had over 6.5 million views. We will also use social networks in the coming period to promote culture. In collaboration with the National Museum and our national airline, Air Serbia, we participate in the #jasamumuzeju campaign, which aims to invite visitors to the National Museum, choose a favorite exhibit, take photos beside it and share it on their Instagram profile.
Best photos will be awarded. December is the month that will be a sign of the Tourist Flower manifestation that will be held on December 11 at the Serbian Tourist Organization. It is a reward traditionally given for significant achievements in raising the quality of tourism services, as well as for contributing to the development, promotion, and development of tourism.
When it comes to tourism in Serbia, what aspects will be highlighted this fall?
Serbia is a destination for all seasons, but we have decided that autumn should be in the sign of Serbian tradition and UNESCO heritage, and therefore the activities will be in accordance with that. The UNESCO-listed biosphere reserves are the Golija Mountain and the Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve. Certainly, an unavoidable part of the historical heritage are the monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, Stećci, Gamzigrad with the site of Felix Romuliana, Stari Ras with Sopoćani, and Studenica. Intangible cultural heritage to be experienced is also singing along the gusle, musical instrument, the traditional Serbian kolo, traditional dance, and what is usually difficult for us to explain to strangers, which is celebrating the Saints day.
Which places from your point of view are the most attractive to visit during October and November before the winter season begins?
Rain and cold weather put the emphasis on wellness and spa tourism, especially in our spas for which tourists are interested. This is also evident in the official data for the first eight months of this year. It is a great choice, so it is best for everyone to choose according to their wishes. We also offer gastronomy, a short break in the cities, as well as enjoying nature on one of our rivers. The Danube cruise is very attractive to visitors, but also to domestic tourists, our research has shown.
At the recently held contest for the EDEN – European Destinations of Excellence in Serbia, the Municipality of Kuršumlija received the award, which has two pearls of spa tourism on its territory – Prolom and Lukovska Banja. The great interest of tourists in the Serbian spas was also contributed by the investments of the state in their renovation, the involvement of the owners of catering establishments to make the best possible offer, as well as the granting of vouchers for free holidays to certain categories of the population.
Is the influx of tourists from the world higher than in previous years?
Serbia is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for both foreign and domestic tourists and statistics speak in support of this. In the first eight months of this year, the number of tourists in our country increased by 6% compared to the same period last year. There were 2,490,977 tourists in Serbia in that period. Between January and August this year, 5% more overnight stays – a total of 6,991,849. The number of Bosnia and Herzegovina tourists increased by 13% compared to the first eight months of last year. By the number of overnight tourists from China, Montenegro, Turkey, and Romania follow.
What attracts them the most?
According to official statistics, Belgrade is the first choice of foreign tourists (50%), due to its rich cultural and historical heritage, natural attractions, but also hospitality and gastronomic offer. They also value the ration between the prices and the quality. Apart from the Serbian capital, Novi Sad, Zlatibor, Vrnjačka Banja and Kopaonik are also attractive to tourists. Tourists’ desires are different, depending on which part of the world they come from, which is why the Chinese prefer to visit as many destinations as possible during one trip and want to see the main sights of all parts of the country. On the other hand, Germans and Scandinavians love active holidays and sojourn in nature.
On the other hand, what places do people who live in these areas visit?
Recent research by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia shows that domestic tourists prefer to visit spas – the most popular are Vrnjačka Banja, Sokobanja, then the Zlatibor and Kopaonik mountains.
Which branch of tourism in Serbia is registering the fastest growth?
According to the Statistical Office of the Republic, spa tourism has seen the biggest increase, but lately, Serbia has become an increasingly attractive destination for health tourism. TOS data show that the most attractive spas in our country at the moment are Vrnjačka, Sokobanja, Selters and Atomic Spa Gornja Trepča.