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Montenegro

Capital Podgorica
Time Zone CET (GMT+1)
Country Code 382
Mobile Codes 67,68,69
ccTLD .me
Currency Euro
Land Area 13,812 sq km
Population 672,000
Language Montenegrin
Major Religions Orthodox Christianity, Islam

Montenegro Pushes for Exclusivity in Tourism Brand

(Balkanalysis.com Research Service)- Despite the continuing effects of an uncertain economy on tourism globally and regionally, Montenegro remains determined to carve out an identity as a chic, sophisticated and exclusive destination, as ongoing development projects show.

Speaking for Britain’s Daily Mail, tourism ministry official Ferdinand Wieland attested that the government’s strategy “…is to not just renovate old hotels, but create state-of-the-art new projects and turn Montenegro into a higher-quality tourist destination.”

Documenting several high-profile developments currently opening or under construction, the newspaper noted that price adjustment for properties has settled since a peak in 2007, but that interest remains relatively higher than in other once-touted Balkan getaways such as Bulgaria. Further, the excitement surrounding exclusive hotels such as the newly-opened Aman Sveti Stefan – on the fabled isle near Budva – remains palpable.

Key to the government’s strategy is a new “super-marina”, known as Porto Montenegro, being built near Tivat. The 10-year project will include luxury amenities, apartments, a five-star restaurant, and leisure activities. It is being backed by Peter Munk, a Canadian mining executive with extensive business activities in Eastern Europe and Russia.

In October 2006, Munk concluded negotiations with the government, taking over a Yugoslav-era shipbuilding and naval yard. At the time, the pioneering investor enthused that with the acquisition, “…we are establishing a brand new industry which will enable Montenegro to be competitive with the most successful yacht harbors on the Mediterranean.” according to SETimes.com.

Now, completion of the first residential units and 85 of the planned 600 yacht berths well ahead of schedule is adding to industry confidence, reads the Daily Mail, especially at a time when other planned projects in the region have stagnated due to the state of the economy.

Proclaiming that their marina is being ‘created by yachtsmen, for yachtsmen,’ the Porto Montenegro management has assembled a notable team of international heavyweights to design, build and outfit the place. Among these include landscape designer Robin Lane Fox, vice-chairman of the British Horticultural Society who has done work for Queen Elizabeth II, and structural engineering company ARUP, whose past projects include the Sydney Opera House, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and several venues for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, according to the Porto Montenegro website.

Yachting is an important part of the draw in a small country often compared with Monaco and San Tropez. Numbers for the year so far are impressive. On July 28, Radio-Television Montenegro quoted Sanja Brankovic of the Tourism Organization of Kotor as saying that thus far in 2010, some 110 ships with 47,965 passengers and 248 yachts with 965 passengers have been moored in the harbor.

Industry and governmental leaders are keen to present tourism development as the prime focus for economic development in the tiny, rugged and often spectacularly beautiful Adriatic state. At least for three months of the year, there is promise for seaside tourism- while Montenegro would like to also develop its mountain-based offerings for summer and winter sports as well. Developing and lengthening the season by adding on things like spa and wellness centers is an area of new attention.

While the current economic crisis has seen decreases in tourism in traditionally-touristed countries such as Greece, June saw a 13 percent increase in passengers at Podgorica and Tivat airports over last year. On July 8, Turkish Airlines began running direct flights to the Montenegrin capital on a thrice-weekly basis, making Montenegro even more accessible to global travelers.

For the British media, Mr. Wieland also stated that he expects western visitor levels to increase by up to seven per cent this year, up from the around 1.2 million visitors who visited Montenegro in both 2008 and 2009.

Already, increased visitor numbers have been noted, according to the Radio-Television Montenegro report. For example, the public relations manager of the Budva Riviera Hotel Group, Tijana Kotarac, said that the company’s hotels in Budva and Petrovac have experienced a 13 percent rise in total stays over last year.

She added that the majority of guests from abroad or from Russia, Serbia, France, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries of Eastern Europe.