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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Western tourists avoid Montenegro during the peak of the tourist season

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High-paying guests from Western Europe have already reserved their spots in Montenegrin hotels, which are booked for the pre-season, when organized tourism reaches its peak. Their interest spans the period from the end of March to mid-June.

The pre-season appears attractive to this exclusive clientele that values quieter moments and higher-quality service.

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However, there is a noticeable decline in their interest during the peak season when mass tourism becomes dominant. It is expected that, as in previous years, tourists from the region will take precedence during this period. The reason for this shift in focus lies in the challenges posed by the crowds during peak times when tour operators find it difficult to organize travel, as transfers from airports to hotels often take twice as long as flights from European destinations, reducing the destination’s attractiveness for high-paying guests.

The key problems

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Great announcements for the pre-season are reported by Dragan Purko Ivančević, a member of the Tourism Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and the director of the travel agency Mac Sun Montenegro. He emphasizes that hotels are already booked until mid-June. He points out several key problems faced by organized tourism in Montenegro during the summer months, especially from mid-June to September. High-paying guests seeking organized tourism are showing less interest in these two months when there is crowding, making it difficult to plan a trip.

According to announcements from the agency, Ivančević claims that all capacities ready for organized tourism are sold out in the pre-season. The guests are mostly from Western Europe, Germany, Austria, France…

Currently, booking is halted in all hotels for April, May, and the first half of June. Additionally, we already have good indications for the post-season, said Ivančević.

According to him, the pre-season will be very good if all relevant authorities at the state and local levels do their job, which is to stop all actions that devalue both our nature and road infrastructure, and to undertake necessary preparations for the beginning of the season.

They need to understand that the beginning of the season is not July and August but when the first guests arrive, and they come after March 20, and by then, all preparations should be completed. Everything should be technically organized – tourist sites, hinterland, and the coast, so that we can kick off the season and present a completely different image of the destination. At this moment, we need to fight a tough battle in the discerning Mediterranean market, which is facing increasing competition. We have to compete with quality services and pricing policies to secure our share of the market. To succeed, those in charge should prepare Montenegro as a destination for a quality start.

Speaking about mass tourism in July and August, Ivančević predicts the presence of a large number of individual guests with their own transportation. However, he emphasizes that this type of tourism, when the capacities of infrastructure and beach areas are overloaded, leads to a decline in the quality of services and complicates the organization of excursion programs.

In organized tourism, the number of arrangements is reduced from mid-June to September due to infrastructure issues. It is impossible to execute the program in a quality manner because transfers from the airport to hotels take twice as long as flights from European destinations. The infrastructure is not ready to accommodate all individual guests arriving by car, and in this unpreparedness to ensure normal communication, tour operators reduce their arrangements. It is inevitable and natural that there is a reduction in arrangements in the most expensive part of the season from June 15 to September 1, and there is increased interest in the pre-season and post-season,” claims Purko Ivančević.

He emphasizes that, in case of saturation of road infrastructure, beach areas, and parking, the quality of service also declines.

“All those who want to organize arrangements during that period cancel. Outside the peak season, there is no mass tourism and a large number of guests, and normal tourist traffic can be organized then,” said Ivančević.

He announces that charters and organized tourism to Montenegro will already start by the end of March and will last until mid-June when it slows down or stops.

In July and August, we have tourism that is difficult to control and manage, indicating that we need to work on it because destination management involves different governance. Through the development of infrastructure, we should provide another dimension for guests that will not “trap” all the functions necessary for normal tourist traffic in such a way.

Therefore, organized quality tourism yields dominance to mass tourism, given that there has not been a pronounced interest from government authorities to manage tourism in a way that evenly distributes tourist traffic throughout the seven-month season – said Ivančević, adding that as a result, we have two months of uncontrolled activities and a guest structure that experiences our destination in a completely different way and does not guarantee good external perception and purchasing power.

This type of clientele with low purchasing power has displaced high-quality guests who come in organized tourism. The peak season paints an unflattering picture of Montenegro as a tourist destination – emphasizes Ivančević.

The communication blockade between destinations with accommodation capacities, airports, and all the necessary transportation routes for excursion tourism and programs, as emphasized by Ivančević, sends a negative message that organizing any kind of service is extremely challenging.

All of this influences major travel organizers to avoid these months because with such “blockages” and congestion that paralyze, it is difficult to plan anything – explains Ivančević.

He urges government authorities to urgently establish a dedicated department that will manage the tourist offer in a different way and know how to distribute and control the seven-month season.

They should evenly distribute these “bursts” of tourists to protect quality tourism and capacities that offer a different service. You can build many resorts and five-star hotels, but if your destination and surroundings are at a one-star level, you cannot valorize those capacities, and this directly discourages not only tourists but also all the investors who want to invest in quality capacities that are essential for us – explained Ivančević.

The state and services

He also emphasized that other destinations experience congestion, but they manage it in a quality manner.

When the state protects tourist flows in a more suitable way and ensures a minimum flow of people and services, especially concerning the most basic elements. The motivation is beaches, but also the valorization of cultural heritage, as well as an extensive excursion program that includes visits to lakes and mountains that need to be reached with quality. Therefore, the state must urgently address and ensure normal tourist traffic, prioritizing organized tourism when it comes to the use of roads, parking, beaches, and finally putting an end to collective construction – said Ivančević. He added that the state should also improve the structure of accommodation capacities, as we have the worst ratio of commercial basic tourism compared to complementary tourism.

The state should, through its measures and tax policies, stimulate the greater development of commercial tourism compared to residency. It should encourage the commercialization and standardization of a larger number of accommodation capacities, of which there are many, and put them into the function of organized tourism. The development of organized tourism is the only defense against a chaotic mass that disrupts and paralyzes the normal flow of tourist traffic – concludes Ivančević.

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