The problem of Montenegrin offer in tourism is not the quality of hotel accommodation. Rather, it is the lack of capacities, says Mr Dragan Puro Ivančević, president of the Committee of the Association of Tourism and Hospitality and Chamber of Commerce of Montenegro.
“Apartments are “swallowing” the space. They affect the quality of the destination”, says Mr Ivančević.
In order to respond to the demands of the majority of tourists who used to come to our country, the image of the destination has been considerably changed and turned into a place for cheap fun.
“Achievement of the desired objective will take time, good planning and investments. Otherwise, Sveti Stefan, Miločer, Maestral, Splendid and Regent will be just small islands in the sea of cheap offer and mass tourism”, said Mr Ivančević.
What’s the main reason for different levels of satisfaction with the current season?
Mr Ivančević: The reason for dissatisfaction is the smaller number of guests than expected. Hoteliers had a good pre-season thanks to affordable prices, especially group arrangements prices. Private accommodation cannot count on that market segment. We have to admit that our offer is better with lower prices. No jams, no noise, traffic chaos.
Is this negative perception o season a consequence of unfulfilled expectations ar lack of joint action of accommodation providers?
Mr Ivančević: Expectations were based on very successful season we had last year. Same problems existed last year and they are recurrent. They should have been taken into consideration. Whether the season will be successful or not depends mostly on the quality and diversity of offer.
Private accommodation must be seriously improved and that requires a lot of hard work. First and foremost, it requires standardization. Then, categorization and joint price formation and creation of other sale conditions, joint market performance and joint promotional activities. Without active participation and engagement of the Ministry of Tourism and Sustainable Development and National Tourism Organization, local tourism organizations and local administrations it won’t be achievable.
Apart from problems with grey economy zone and inadequate education of tourism staff, is there anything else that could affect the performance in tourism?
Mr Ivančević: What will definitely have a negative impact on this season and forthcoming seasons is the everyday problem of traffic collapse in the Bay of Kotor and on Tivat-Budva route. The transfer from Tivat to Budva takes ages now! There are also problems with inappropriate reception conditions and transport of passengers to the airport.
Could opening of a great number of small high-category hotels change the structure of guests in relation to their solvency?
Mr Ivančević: Quality of hotel accommodation has never been our problem. We lack hotel capacities and number of apartments is disproportionate to the amount of hotel capacities. That’s out biggest problem.
Will marina and residential facilities in Portonovi resort have an impact on the season?
Mr Ivančević: A positive impact, certainly. Especially, when the projected hotel capacities are put into use.
Considering that the number of tourists coming from Western Europe is increasing, will resorts such as Porto Montenegro, Luštica Bay and Portonovi change the structure of guests?
Mr Ivančević: We have totally changed the image of our destination as we tended to meet the demands of the majority of tourists. Now we are recognized as destination for cheap fun. Achievement of the desired objective will take time, good planning and investments. Otherwise, Sveti Stefan, Milošer, Mestral, Splendid and Regent will be just small islands in the sea of cheap offer and mass tourism”, said Mr Ivančević.
We should also be careful not to repeat the same mistakes in the northern part.
It is certain that at the end of this year the number of tourists and overnights will be higher than in 2018. However, what results can we expect from the summer season?
Mr Ivančević: I can’t provide accurate forecasts. We should better focus on bringing this season to an end as successfully as we can. Then we will be able to analyze results and count overnights… and money.