Podgorica – A new phase in tourism development is about to come and it presupposes the construction of exclusive facilities on locations such as Ada Bojana, Velika plaža, Valdanos, Buljarica, Jaz, Ostrvo cvijeća, Kumbor, Mamula and Bigova. Those are going to be so-called green-field investments, that should surpass one billion in years to come – the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Protection, Predrag Nenezic, declared for the Vijesti.
Are these locations going to be sold on tenders in a traditional way or is some other strategy going to be employed?
Therefore, having in mind the size, the architecture, the style and materials used in harmony with nature and cultural-historical heritage, we will approve arrangements with the best only, the same as we did when Aman Resources or Peter Munk are in question, but we will also demand that some locations stay intact.
You mention billions of euros of investments that are expected. Do you have information on how much has so far been invested in tourist facilities in Montenegro?
In the last five years, about 200 million euros has been invested into Montenegrin hotels. That is a lot of money, but as I said, that’s nothing compared to investments to come. Now we are thinking about billions. Montenegro needs golf courses, marinas, new health, congress and wellness centres and many other things.
You keep talking about high tourism and quality, and now about billions. What about bad roads, poor water-supplying, grey economy?
Year after year, these problems are solved or diminished in phases until final solution. We are doing a lot on infrastructure but we must admit that roads have not looked as good as this year for a long time. But that is not enough. We must do a lot for the next when it comes to improving road infrastructure on the seaside and in the north, in order to enable better traffic flow and a safer one too. However, we will have a final solution in about 4 to 5 years when we implement our large projects that we have already started, namely, the highway from the seaside to Serbia, the motorway or highway in the hinterland of the coast and the road Risan- Nikšić-Žabljak. Without these projects we cannot count on high quality of our destination and the Government is aware of this and therefore very committed to realizing these projects soon.
Grey economy is successfully being overcome and the best proof for this is the income growth for the budget of about 27% more than the last year. Value added tax incomes are higher for 39% although the rate for tourism has been reduced from 17% to 7%, enabling a more dynamic tourism development. In collaboration with tourist economy I expect that we will stop grey economy which is a burden for every tourist season.
You forgot water-supplying?
I didn’t, of course. We are doing a lot on this issue, especially now, having in mind our very ambitious plans. In association with the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as well as with the German KFW Bank, we have provided over 65 million euros of loans and help that doesn’t need to be paid back for projects in this area for the next two years, namely, for the rehabilitation of local waterworks, wastewaters facilities and solid communal waste landfills. As for the project of Regional Seaside Waterworks, the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Protection will suggest to the government preparing and publishing an international tender for the realization of this project. We think that there are conditions for this and that this project is interesting enough for a number of leading world companies, which would find interest in a certain arrangement of joint investment or concessions to enter this project on long-term basis. What additionally encourages us is the intentions of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support this project. Having in mind the current situation and planned development, additional water quantities are needed in all counties. Simply, the plan is to provide necessary water quantities to every county through a regional waterworks, at an acceptable price, and this water will be taken over by their waterworks and distributed to final consumers.
Montenegrin tourism has probably gained on quality in this year? What would you point out here?
The quality of offer in all segments has been improved, which has been confirmed in all polls and foreign partners’ reports. Tourist centres, beaches, roads and walkways have been better and cleaner. The offer outside of breakfast and bed offer in hotels has been more various, and the service in hotels and restaurants was evidently better. In this year we got a lot of new hotels and new border crossings were a nice way to welcome tourists to independent, tourist Montenegro. What also encourages is the ever higher degree of synergy between the government, the counties and tourist economy, which is the only thing that guarantees continuity in rising of tourism quality. It is clear that big shortcomings cannot be corrected in a short time, because they have marked Montenegrin tourist offer for decades. Not to mention statistic data which has been extraordinary?
What does the statistics say?
Once again, we have a high rate of tourist income of about 23,5%. Total income amounts to over 320 million euros, and we have achieved and surpassed ambitious projections made in the economy politics by the government for 2006, namely, a number close to one million tourists, 400000 of which foreigners. Other indicators are very good too.
Environmental protection is in your jurisdiction now. Is tourism development in conflict with environmental protection?
Montenegro has reached a decision five years ago when it comes to further tourism development, and that is to create sustainable, various, high quality tourism which will abide by all the principles of environmental protection. On the other side, the intention to create an ecological state was defined by the Constitution itself. That means that these two areas are not in conflict when our country is concerned. Challenges are numerous in both areas, and they intertwine to a great extent. My belief is that there is high compatibility and having in mind the sort of tourism we had in mind, I don’t see any reason to worry about this.
If you ask if it would be better to have two separate ministries, I will answer affirmatively. And this is because of numerous tasks and the need to dedicate oneself to the harmonisation of regulation with the EU, to environmental monitoring, to the realisation of big projects in the area of communal activities and inspection, as well as to the law and institutional framework for tourism development, to the support of private initiatives, to the making the offer more various, to creating trained staff and the creation of brand etc. in the area of tourism. However, I am sure that in the organisational structure, the Ministry would answer numerous challenges in future. A four-year action plan has been ambitiously set, but it is grounded on firm foundation.
IN 2007 NEW MASTER PLAN AND SALE OF BOKA AND ULCINJ, AND IGALO INSTITUTE
You have talked of plans for the next few years. What are planning for 2007 exactly?
For the first thing, contracts on rental of St. Stephen, Queen’s Beach and Milocer, which encompass 40 million euros of investments, and which will be closed on 15th January, when Aman Resorts is going to take the hotels over. We are talking of a superb deal, which provides presence of the most prestigious world brand in tourism. Financial aspect is very suitable as well. The rental price in the period of reconstruction would be 1,95 million euros, and in the first year of conducting business the minimal guaranted rent would be 2,1 million, all in accordance with the inflation rate, and depending on the degree to which the business is successful it is going to be much higher, because it is related to income.
Then, we have conditions to revise and make a new master plan for Montenegrin tourism after five years of successful realisation. I expect that this document be adopted by September, and that it will focus on the central and north part of the republic. With help of German experts and provided funds, and in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Protection, about 150 experts of different profiles are going to be invloved in about ten working groups. Also, a strategy for providing necessary human resources in tourism is going to be completed and adopted. We can say right now that tourism is going to need at least 1000 workers of different profiles a year in the next 20 years. I can announce that until the end of January a tender for the sale of the controlling packet of HTP Boka shares is going to be renewed.
In the first part of the year I expect a tender for the Institute Simo Milosevic. And finally, after the successful sale of the part of HTP Ulcinjska Rivjera, conducted by the Economy Court, we have conditions for renewing the company from bankrupcy, and we will have a tender for the sale of the controlling packet of shares by summer. In this way, the minor Ulcinjska Rivjera shareholders, as we announced, will be able to exercise their owner’s rights. And in this way, the privatisation of the state capital in tourism is going to be completed.