EARTH is interviewing Ognjen from Montenegro, a Political Sciences student volunteering for our Italian member AITR based in Bologna, who explains how is the situation in Montenegro about tourism and how this country is facing the arrivals of so many tourists.
In 2013, Montenegro was visited by 1.440 000 tourists, mostly from Russia, France, Poland, Italy and neighboring countries; the state earned 700 million Euros thanks to tourism. The total contribution of tourism to GDP is 25%.
70% of overnight stays was recorded on the coast, while only 30% in the Northern part of the country. However, year after year, the number of tourists who spend their holidays in the north is growing! For example, 10 years ago, only 7% of overnight stays was in the north. This is the proof that Montenegro is increasingly based on alternative tourism.
EARTH: Now, what can you tell us about tourism in general in Montenegro?
OGNJEN: “I am very happy to have the chance to describe Montenegro as a tourist destination to EARTH. For me, Montenegro is the pearl of Europe.The diversity of natural and cultural landscapes constitutes an invaluable asset for Montenegro, and there is no coincidence that the experts agree on the fact that tourism is the fastest growing economic sector, ranking Montenegro among the countries with the highest development of tourism in the world! With a reason! Let’s start exploring the Wild Beauty together!”
EARTH: You said that tourism is one of the most important industries in Montenegro. What types of tourism are being developed in your country?
OGNJEN: “Even if we are speaking about a very small country, there are different types of tourism: coastal and mountain tourism, followed by cultural tourism in cities and rural tourism. There’s something for every taste: sports (swimming, sailing, diving), welfare, religious and cultural tours. Mountain tourism, in summer and winter, offers numerous opportunities for hiking, climbing, extreme sports (rafting, canoeing, parachute jumps, and more). For health buffs and nature lovers there are several natural parks organizing: hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, caving, bird watching, etc. More informations can be found on the web site: http://www.montenegro.travel/en“
EARTH: That is a very range wide. Does that mean that you can also find Responsible Tourism in Montenegro?
OGNJEN: Well, 80 % of tourists are spending their holidays on seaside, where elitist tourism is prevailing, but fortunately, responsible tourism is spreading! Due to the number of protected areas, there is a great variety of landscapes in a relatively small area. The national parks and the mountainous area, are just behind the coast, and a lot of natural lakes are a valuable space for ecotourism activities, and other aspects of responsible tourism!
EARTH: You mentioned the national parks. That means that Montenegro has several national parks? Can you tell us what these places can offer to tourists who want to escape from everyday problems, congestion and smog?
OGNJEN: “Yes, Montenegro has 5 national parks. The Durmitor National Park is part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage.. Biogradska Gora is an area where you will find one of the oldest forests in Europe Lake of Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkan, and it is internationally recognized by the RAMSARConvention. In the National Park Lovcen, those who rise up early in the morning finding a beautiful weather, will be rewarded by the sighting of Italy! The youngest national park of Montenegro is mountain Prokletije, which is one of the most beautiful and highest mountains of the Balkans. We pay great attention to the preservation of national parks. Due to heavy snow, or lightning, some trees are knocked down, and later used for the construction of wooden bridges, benches, so everything in the protected area, in fact is a product of his wealth. More interesting information about this wonderful places, can be found on the web site: http://www.nparkovi.me/sajt/“
EARTH: That is really impressive. What about accomodation? What type of accommodation is available in the area surrounding the national parks?
OGNJEN: The “Ethno villages’ accomodation are the most important in terms of responsible tourism in Montenegro, because they allow travelers to fully experience nature using all five senses! Near a lake or a river, you can stay in huts, bungalows or traditional houses that offer accommodation, local food and a full program of daily activities. Visitors can learn how to prepare some traditional dishes, experimenting various household activities with the “danceable” sound of Montenegro music. But do not worry, you will also have time to relax and enjoy the magic of nature. The goal is, after all, to make you feel home.
EARTH: What are the biggest problems about tourism in Montenegro, and how development of alternative tourism can help in solving these problems?
OGNJEN: “The biggest problems in Montenegro concern traffic jam, poor urbanization resorts and irresponsible behavior towards nature by tourists. For example, in a city that has about 15 000 inhabitants, Budva, in July, hosted over 150 000 people! I believe that the development of responsible tourism will help by “educating” the passengers to a better behaviour towards the environment. Moreover, Montenegro represents the ideal place for alternative tourism, and also for conservative tourism, which is very popular in this country. We need to preserve nature, because happiness is to be with nature, admire it and communicate with it. Find your happiness on river Tara, which is called the “Tear of Europe”, because all along the river water is drinkable! The river canyon is the deepest in Europe and the second in the world! It is also a part of UNESCO heritage.”
EARTH: What do you think about responsible tourism in Montenegro?
OGNJEN: “I believe that responsible tourism can develop faster if you extend the tourist season. Now it covers the period from May to September (summer season) and the period during January and February (winter season). Fortunately, the tourist season is being extended, and I hope that these two seasons will soon merge into one. Therefore, there won’t be crowds at the Montenegrin roads, beaches and resorts, which is one of the biggest problems of Montenegrin tourism. By extending the tourist season, both citizens of Montenegro and hotel and restaurants owners together with ethno villages will be satisfied. The government is increasingly devoted to the promotion of alternative and conservative tourism, and made a strategic plan for sustainable tourism development for the next 10 years. I think that Montenegro deserves to be a synonymous for eco – tourism, and responsible tourism in general! I am sure that it will be so in future, because Montenegro has a big potential to be a leader in that type of tourism!
If you dont believe me, take a minute of your time and have a look: