We can never know enough about the beauty of Serbia, even if we sometimes think we know everything there is to know. Marija Labovic, Director of the Tourist Organisation of Serbia, reveals how great the potentials of this country are, primarily in its capacity to stun us with its beauty.
What do you see as the most prominent advantages of Serbian tourism?
Untouched nature, healthy food, authentic atmosphere, numerous tourist events, hospitality and warmth of the local population are the main advantages that set our country apart from other countries.
Serbia is still perceived as a new and insufficiently explored destination, which, together with its proximity, i.e. geographic position and good connections to the most significant emitting markets, as well as its tourist offer which is in line with the contemporary trends in demand, yield good value for money and make it an increasingly popular destination.
Serbia is a country with a diverse tourist offer characterized in remarkable natural resources, numerous archaeological sites, monasteries, churches and other cultural and historic heritage listed on UNESCO’s lists, as well as traditionally hospitable, good-natured people.
Two important international routes cross in Serbia – Corridor 10 in road traffic and Danube – Corridor 7 in river traffic, with Danube navigable in its entirety in Serbia (588 km); there is also a good air connection through the Belgrade and Nis airports, which is certainly one of the key requirements for the development of tourism.
Serbia is also along some of the important pan-European theme routs, cultural routes Transromanica, the Roman Emperors’ and Danube Wine route, the Route of European Secessionist Cities, the European Route of Jewish Heritage, Route of the Architecture of Totalitarian Regimes of the 20th Century – ATRIUM, bicycle route Evrovelo 6 and walking routes E4 and E7.
From your experiences so far, what do foreign tourists find the most interesting in our country?
Interests of foreign tourists for our country differ from market to market, but the motives for coming here that stand out are city breaks, tours of cultural and historic monuments, active vacation in nature, primarily skiing, walking and cycling in combination with vacations in rural and mountain areas of Serbia, as well as visits to summer music festivals and other events in Serbia.
This year, the Tourist Organisation of Serbia has promoted the Serbian tourist offer through an intensive TV and digital campaign on BBC and Eurosport, media outlets with over 308 million viewers per week, with a focus on interest among foreign tourists for what our country has to offer.
How much are people who live here – the so-called domestic tourists, interested in other regions in Serbia and which areas do they visit the most?
As you know, the Serbian Government’s incentive to improve domestic tourism through vouchers proved to be an excellent driver for the development of domestic tourism, yielding outstanding results. The Serbian Government has approved an additional 20,000 vouchers for this year.
Domestic tourists usually visit mountain resorts in the winter time, and spas are popular year-round.
We have to mention just how rich our country is in rivers, from serene, slow rivers in the plains to swift mountain rivers, as well as numerous lakes, which provide many an opportunity for a high quality vacation and different sports activities.
The lakes that are increasing in popularity, featured in the publications by the Tourist Organisation of Serbia (TOS) are Palic, Bor, Srebrno, Vlasinsko lake, the lakes of Bela Crkva, Uvac lake and other smaller lakes. Ada Ciganlija has been recognized as “the Belgradian sea”. Rivers are also well known tourist products: Drina with its boat races, Ibar, Lim and Nisava with rafting, Danube with its entire tourist offer, etc. Cruises, rafting, canoeing are all organized on rivers. The well known beaches, Strand in Novi Sad, the beach on Sava near Sabac, in Kladovo and Zajecar are all witnessing an increase in domestic tourism in the summer period.
In addition to spas, or, let’s say, religious tourism, what do you see as a potential resource that can be tapped into, in this sense?
We should certainly mention health tourism. A combination of medicine and tourism is a relatively new type of tourism with a very fast growth rate; this trend is likely to continue in the future. Serbia is already visited by tourists motivated by health tourism, which was recognized by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia. This lead to the establishment of cooperation between TOS and the Ministry of Health, so that their representatives took part, together with the Tourist Organisation of Serbia, at the tourist fairs in Berlin and Moscow.
Bearing in mind the changes in lifestyle, with increasing stress levels, as well as the fact that the global population is aging, we also expect to see an increase in those interested in spa/wellness products, as there is an ever increasing demand for holistic medical therapies and treatments.
The development of health tourism will also affect the number of visitors to our spas (bearing in mind that some of our spas are specialized in healthcare – medical treatments), as well as treatment facilities in rehabilitation centres.
photo: TO Srbije
What destinations in Serbia do you find the most attractive in the summer months?
Short vacations, the so-called “city breaks”, attract an ever increasing number of tourists, with Belgrade leading this trend, but there is also Novi Sad, which has been proclaimed as the culture capital of 2021 and a city of youth 2019, Nis, Subotica and other cities in Serbia.
The younger population is strongly attracted to summer music festivals, known even outside the borders of our country; for those who love an active vacation, there is the pure, untouched nature, national parks, opportunity for walking, cycling, rafting and other outdoor sports, with health treatments in our spas. All these attractions are ideal for spending your summer holiday, or a part thereof, in Serbia.
Mountain destinations Kopaonik, Zlatibor etc. have seen an increase in their summer offer, characteristic to that of the best developed mountain centres. During the summer, mountain bicycling, adrenalin sports, paragliding, quad rides, bob sleds and zip-lines are all on offer.
In the upcoming period, what projects will you be focusing on, in terms of improving the predispositions of the domestic tourism?
Development of a strategic marketing plan for tourism in Serbia is one of the priorities for the Tourist Organisation of Serbia. In order to align with the global marketing trends, we need to define the strategic orientation of Serbia as a tourist brand, define the development of Serbian tourist products accordingly, so that we can also promote them adequately, in line with the target group and position. When it comes to the domestic market, we have a summer campaign underway under the slogan: “See Serbia… A perfect holiday at your fingertips”. In addition to billboards and ads in printed and digital media, as well as on social networks, during June, TOS presented the tourist offer of our country in Cacak, Nis and Novi Sad, together with the local tourist organisations throughout Serbia.
autor: Ivana Čikarić