Podgorica – In the recent period it is interesting too see who and in what way comments the problems in tourism.
I am surprised that the loudest in the critiques of the construction season and works on the road are exactly the ones to whom the state and the municipalities have helped a lot and came forth last and the year before that because the season was already far away when they were reconstructing their hotels. Or those hotelkeepers who on facilities which they run do very little work or do nothing to raise the level of the quality – said in the interview for “Vijesti” minister of tourism Predrag Nenezic, commenting the numerous critiques about the problems in Montenegrin tourism.
– I follow also the exposures of the professors from Tourist and Economic Faculties who often color their critiques with their party belongings. The so far results and the international estimates and messages most often deny what they say, but that doesn’t bother them too much. Many of them used to be on high and responsible positions in state organs and they know well that the works have their period of lasting, that they are necessary, and that they are in everyone’s interest. They also know that the season starts earlier thanks to the effort of al of us, but that it was the state who started this process and that with the precise carrying out of the measures from the Master plan the seasons are extended, the quality in all segments of the offer is being raised, two-digit rates of growth are increasing the incomes from tourism, and lets not mention the strengthening of the image of Montenegro abroad. Five years ago we were very happy when on the 6th of May first three German planes landed, and this year on the 4th of April we have 16 charter flights on Tivat airport.
We can often hear accusations that there are many obstacles in the development of the Montenegrin tourism – grey economy, bad roads, and water supply, wild construction and similar stuff. There are basic for that criticism?
– It is true that there are obstacles and challenges with which every year we successfully dealt with coming closer to leading destinations in the world. And that is our goal. We know that the road we have chosen is the harder one, but it is the only one, in long-terms speaking, which can satisfy the life standards of the citizens and position Montenegro as a recognizable quality destination all over the world. If we look 6 or 7 years back we will see that the huge steps have been made in all segments of the service chain of our tourism.
Lets go in order with the problems. Grey economy?
– Grey economy is dropping from year to year. That can be seen with bare eye. And the records support that. The rate of unemployed people has dropped from 34% to 14%. With implementation of fiscal receipts the charging of TAV is increased for 114%. The approvals for work and the category got over 230 hotels and 276 tourist agencies. Over 50.000 new beds for renting in domestic services have been registered. The number of those who give services of trips, or ride without the license has been decreased etc. of course, there is a lot o work to do still.
Bad roads, traffic jams?
– Highways never in the history of Montenegro have been in a better shape that this year. A lot has been done in their repair and modernization. However, we have a problem of their baulk abilities and a larger and larger number of vehicles of all categories on our roads. In this way we are thinking strategically, and as it is familiar, important modern roads in the country will be built. Still, I think that we could do a lot in order to decrease the jams which are obvious and which are a great threat for this and every following tourist season. Beside the great invested effort, I think that the ministry in authority, in cooperation with MIA and the Ministry of tourism and protection of environment had to fulfill the obligation of the Action plan for the last and this season and that we had to make a strategy of managing the traffic, because with wise planning and regulation in that part the crowds and jams would be significantly lesser. Too much import of cars of all categories is also a big problem. Finally, local administrations do not give not even closely enough attention to the problem of parking. For this season I am sure that the traffic jams will be the biggest problem for which, as things are seen now, we do no have an adequate solution for the next two or three years. And that can be very dangerous.
Waste, water supply?
– In the segment of treatment of hard waste material a lot has been done on the level of planning, which is a pre-condition for action. However, there is still a lot of slowness in making decisions and carrying out of the projects. The examples are Municipalities of Bar, Budva, Kotor, and Tivat, and even Kolasin, Mojkovac and Bijelo Polje. As if we have a enough space for a great number of dumps, and as if Montenegro is not ours, of all of us, so it is a problem if it is more on the territory of one municipality than on the territory of the other one.
The successes of the action “Make it clean” are obvious, but we will have problems as long as all the citizens of Montenegro don’t understand that the clean environment is a pre-condition for their more beautiful and healthier life.
Water supply is a problem that we have for decades. Finally, in the past five years we have managed to reduce as much as it was possible through the projects of repair of local systems, optimization of the existing wells, finding of new local springs, and with the more effective work of the public waterworks enterprises.
Recently the Government has decided to continue the construction of the regional waterworks with the water spring from Skadar Lakem with which the Ministry of tourism and protection of environment will coordinate until the end of the project 2010.
The wild construction is a big problem too?
– Wild construction is being stopped with the all-inclusive action of the Government and the Municipalities. However, the problem is much deeper, because in Montenegro we have neglected another dimension, and that is the spacious planning. So a great number of edifices has the construction permit, so it is not a wild construction, but the facilities are such that not even in one single percent do they fulfill the principles of sustainable development. They do not fit in the ambience, not do they use the adequate materials, nor do they take care about the saving of electricity etc. to resume, I see the preservation of space and managing it in a sustainable way as the biggest challenge with which Montenegro is facing now and with which it will be facing in the following period. And from our wisdom, knowledge and decisiveness to resist the short-term interests the future of the space will depend and with that the future of the state itself.
How can we speak about the elite tourism, when except the listed problems we have very little hotels of high category?
– I am not talking about present, but about a goal which has been posed realistically and which has been achieved in a relatively short period. You could never have heard from me, nor from my associates that we promote Montenegro as an elite destination now. In the past 6 or 7 years we have displayed it realistically to the world, as a beautiful country, with rich cultural and historical heritage, with hospitable hosts, and with the fast development of quality of offer. So from year to year the number of elite hotels is growing, not just on the coast, but also in the mountains of Montenegro, which are our big ecological resource which we will use, with the maximum of respect for the ecological principles.
THE OWNERS WHO GOT HOTELS THROUGH STOCK BOND PRIVATIZATION DO NOT INVEST IN HOTELS
– One would say that the privatization is not giving the expected results. The investments are late; many sold hotels are still not working?
– When we are talking about the privatization of hotel business one should bear in mind that it was done in two ways – through open competition sale and through the mass stock bond privatization. With the open competition privatization, that it with the sale of a hotel or control packages of stocks, the buyer had to guarantee investments and the social program. That has proved right. In 90% of the cases the investment obligation has been fulfilled, and in 55% of the cases it has been surpassed significantly. For several investments which are late I am expecting a solution latest until the next season.
When we are talking about the enterprises whose stocks have been shared through the process of mass stock bond privatization it should be said that those investments are being carried out very slowly. However, their value on the stock market is growing, but there didn’t exist a mechanism, with which the investments could have been ensured in those hotel enterprises which are the ownership of private funds and citizens. I will name just some of them: HTE “Albatros”, HTE “Primorje”, “Cetinjetours”, “Onogost”, “Plavsko jezero”, HTE “Fjord” etc.
REMEMBER WHERE WE WERE
You often say that there is a great advancement in the development of Montenegrin tourism?
– Remember where we were. Now already in the long time passed 1998 an initiative for making of the strategy for the development of tourism in Montenegro has been started. And ambitious goal was set. Creation of the sustainable, high quality a diverse tourist product, recognizable in the whole world. The starting position was hard. Beside the still present political and safety instability in the region, in Montenegro we had old legislation and regulations in the area of tourism, old communal and traffic infrastructure, old hotels and tourist infrastructure. We had limited human resources after 10 years of stagnation of tourism, very small number of airlines, non-efficient banking system, the inexistence of connection with the international systems, old informatics technology, limited telecommunication services, the inexistence of brand and international accountancy standards, great share of grey market, small participation of tourism in the domestic gross product… All of that has been significantly improved and promoted. Of course we will not stop ourselves on that.
Still we can praise ourselves with the significant reputation in the international tourist circles, which from year to year is growing, and from whom we get a full support.
IN THREE YEARS THE NORTH WILL BE EUROPEAN ATTRACTION
The authorities as if they are neglecting the development of the north of Montenegro even beside the great potentials which that region has?
– The north part of Montenegro, just the same as the central part, will be treated in details in the new Master plan. The mountains, lakes, rivers, especially in the area of National parks are our wealth and a comparative advantage. It suites us that on a global level the interest for mountains and recreation in green areas is bigger and bigger. When several years ago I have announced a rapid development of tourism and the first visible examples of high quality destination, many have reacted with disbelief. Today with certainty I can announce that our project of sustainable tourist development of the north as a part of the innovated Master plan already in the year 2010 will be a sensations in terms of speaking about Europe. We will open our mountains for the admirers and explorers of nature, recreation people and sportsman, both during the winter and during the summer. Today just in Germany there is an emissive market with 35 millions of tourists who enjoy in walks and cycling in nature. That will be the project of the state, financially and timely demanding, but realistically feasible. The work title is “Montenegro – Hiking & Biking Paradise of Europe”.