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Balkan race for tourists

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  “I need a 6-month vacation. Twice a year.” – author unknown

Not so long ago, 11 years ago, Brad Pitt showed his beloved Angelina Jolie the beautiful coast of Montenegro. The actors stayed at the Splendid Hotel near Budva. And just five years ago, the first-class restaurant for modern Asian cuisine, Nobu, owned by Robert De Niro and Nobu Matsushita, opened on St. Stephen’s Island. The last James Bond, the British actor Daniel Craig, played in cold blood against the Bad guy in a Montenegrin casino, and somewhere in the recent past the football star Ronaldinho was a guest on the coast.

Now the island of St. Stephen is closed, and the investor ADRIATIC Properties is arguing with the authorities in Montenegro through letters to international institutions, embassies, the European Commission and others.

In 2019, in a report by the World Tourism Organization, Montenegro was declared one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe.

The glamorous years are now a thing of the past, the stars of the world of cinema and sports are far away, the pandemic has changed the world, and tourism in 2020 seems to have been in a still image. Today, the global test is challenging all professionals in the sector to step out of their comfort zones and invent something truly new to offer both exciting and safe vacations to tourists.

And the race began: in Bulgaria a week ago there was talk of hotels for those infected with COVID-19. That sounds a little weird, really. In fact, these are detached villas where people will be accommodated in case of infection with the virus to continue their vacation. The quarantined will receive the necessary assistance and food.

The Albena resort already provides such an opportunity, and it has become the first resort in Bulgaria to receive a “100 percent vaccinated” sticker. This means that the staff of the hotels in the complex is fully vaccinated and ready to welcome tourists.

A few days ago, Albania, which has access to the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, announced the opening of 29 health centers for rapid testing of tourists and assistance in the presence of a virus.

Montenegro has adopted a decision according to which hotels offer tests for tourists who need them when they return home.

The Montenegrin government has launched a program of economic reforms for the period 2021 – 2023, and it contains optimistic forecasts for rapid growth this year. The most important of these for 2021 relates to tourism revenues, which should reach 65 percent of those generated in the strong 2019.

Montenegro’s tourism accounts for nearly 25 percent of the country’s GDP, but also feeds many other areas. It is also an important priority in the government’s program. It outlines the path for sustainable development of the sector in the country, namely “green tourism”, digitalization, continuous staff training, diversification of the tourist product, new protected areas; offering holidays that combine the mountains of the North and the coast of the South.

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