Marija Labović
Marija Labović

When we sum up the results, can the previous year be described as a successful year for Serbian tourism?

National Tourism Organisation of Serbia (NTOS) continued with strong promotional activities both in international, and in the local market in 2016. A mix of traditional and modern channels of communication with customers, agents, journalists, bloggers and tourists showed good results, hence the foreign currency inflow from international tourism that amounts to one billion euros for this year, with a double-digit growth in the recorded number
of foreign tourists.

NTOS had significant activities in the overseas markets, such as China, where Serbia has already positioned itself as one of the leading regional destinations. Congress and corporate guests surely can find their well-deserved place in these results, and NTOS will continue to equally well represent Serbia as a tourist destination and as a MICE destination in the upcoming period, further appropriately adjusting the marketing mix.

Which activities NTOS focused on in the meetings industry segment in 2016?

National Tourism Organisation of Serbia, through the activities of its department, Serbia Convention Bureau, focused on two aspects. The first one refers to the process
of candidacy, where 40 bidding procedures for international conferences have been initiated, in cooperation with the most successful doctors, scientists and professionals in various fields.

The second aspect refers to organizing destination inspections for decision makers. I have to point out that National Tourism Organisation of Serbia, and the Bureau as its integral part, have strong support of our partners in the meetings industry in this activity, so the stay of almost 250 international congress organizers in Serbia has been achieved with their generous help and coordination. We are talking about the secretariats of international associations, international corporations or foreign PCO and DMC agencies that have managed to learn a lot about Serbia and certainly leave the country after several days with the most
favorable impressions. This is the result of cooperation between all stakeholders in the
meetings industry.

23. Međunarodni kongres vizantoloških studija, Beograd
23. Međunarodni kongres vizantoloških studija, Beograd

What results can we expect from these activities in the future?

From the total number of initiated candidacies, 18 have been successfully completed, 2 are now lost, but we continue the process, and we are expecting results for the remaining 20 in the forthcoming period. This is very important for Serbian tourism, because we went into a process of proactive sales that will bring destinations in Serbia tens of millions of euros in earnings. This is also important for Serbian economy, educational system, research centers, institutes… because they will have the opportunity to present the results of their work to foreign colleagues and potential customers in their own country. This way, the effect of
the international congress taking place in Serbia is being multiplied.

Site inspections show great results, because on site and in direct conversation with the client, we have the possibility to point out the advantages of Serbia as congress destination, and to respond to the challenges posed by potential clients. Clients can familiarize themselves with the actual level of service as well as to objectively experience and feel Serbia. Already in the first couple of months in 2017, several large corporate groups will visit Serbia on the basis of well-organized and coordinated destination inspections.

23. Međunardoni kongres vizantoloških studija, Beograd
23. Međunardoni kongres vizantoloških studija, Beograd

Which elements of the destination are international clients satisfied with, and which elements they complain about?

Today, Serbia offers the quality of a world-class congress destination. We have great hotels with substantial conference capacities that consistently invest in improving the
quality of their services, we have excellent airline connections, and cultural and historical monuments for event organization. A very important asset of Serbia is the overall experience, the feeling that clients can have in Serbia. In the era of modern living, the concept of staying in non-urban environments, combination of tradition and culture, local and organic food, surrounded by good hosts, is surely something that can differentiate a destination.

Things they complain about, or better say, aspects in which there is room for improvement, relate primarily to the improvement of general infrastructure in order to ease destination accessibility. And finally, the impression and experience that clients acquire in Serbia are the most important references for future clients and congresses. In 2016, we hosted about 70 international congresses of associations. Congresses such as the World Congress
of Byzantine Studies (1,500 delegates) and the World Congress on of the International Solid Waste Association (1,400 delegates) have proved that Serbia can meet even the most comprehensive requirements of organizers and delegates from all around the world. Words of praise refer to professional organization, exceptional expertise of local hosts, attentiveness of the staff, welcoming atmosphere at every turn, while our museums, monasteries, wineries and farms have created great experiences that are still recounted.


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