37th International Fair of Tourism opens in Belgrade
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic declared open on Thursday 37th International Fair of Tourism in Belgrade, which is bringing together 1,100 exhibitors from 50 countries.
“The number of tourists is growing, but the state has to do even more to help this industry develop further,” Vucic said, addressing exhibitors, officials, diplomatic representatives and visitors.
Serbia has no coastline, but it has the most beautiful rivers, mountains and spa towns, Vucic said, underscoring that Serbia can invest efforts in attracting more foreign and domestic tourists.
He noted that a large number of spas will be privatized and modernized, and that the development of the road and rail infrastructure and the Belgrade Waterfront project will create better conditions for development of tourism in the years to come.
In a statement to reporters, Vucic specified that the last year saw a rise of 11.6 percent in tourism revenues despite the devastating floods, which was, among other things, triggered by Air Serbia's good business results.
“With a good campaign and better infrastructure, Serbia's tourism revenues could account for three percent of the GDP,” the prime minister said.
Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic said that this is the first time that a prime minister is opening the fair since 1978.
“This illustrates the great importance that the Serbian government attaches to tourism, and that tourism will grow into one of the important industries,” he said.
“Our objective is to increase the share of tourism in the GDP from 1.8 percent to 3 percent,” Ljajic said.
Addressing the present, Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali said that 2014 saw 16 new hotels open in the Serbian capital, and a record number of overnight stays -over 1.5 million, and a year-on-year increase of 14 percent in the number of tourists.
Mali underlined that the tourism fair is an opportunity for promoting Belgrade, not only as a city break destination, but also as a city of ideas and business opportunities.
At the opening ceremony, representatives of the Serbian ministry of tourism and the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the field of tourism between Serbia and the United Arab Emirates, which is a partner country at this year's Belgrade tourism fair.
This year's International Fair of Tourism is held under the slogan “Seize the Moment”, and exhibitors are presenting their tourist offer in six halls.
Besides the traditional tourist destinations for Serbian travellers, Jamaica, one of the most beautiful islands of the Caribbean, will present its offer at this year's fair for the first time.
Between February 19 and 22, visitors will also have an opportunity to visit 6th BEO Wine Fair, and six Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo-Metohija will present their offer at both events.
Under the slogan “Only One Kosovo-Metohija”, they will present their spa and mountain tourism, including the offer of the ski center Brezovica in the municipality of Strpce, cultural heritage of Serbia's southern province and a dozen wineries from the Orahovac wine region.