My country, Montenegro, Željka Radak Kukavičić, director of National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro
”I often tend to say to my co-workers that we are privileged, because we are doing the most beautiful work in Montenegro, and I really mean it”.
Interviewed by: Elma Zećo
All our guests
”The most numerous tourist guests come from Serbia, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, France, Poland, Germany, Turkey, Great Britain and Albania. Apart from the rising number of guests from Western, Middle and North Europe, I am pleased that there are ever more tourists from far away markets, such as China, Japan and Israel who are discovering our destination.”
The past decade of Montenegrin tourism is characterised by continuous growth trend of tourist traffic and revenues, when the revenues from tourist traffic almost quadrupled and came close to a billions of euros in the past year. Although promotion is one of the key factors for the positioning of a destination, to which Montenegro is paying much attention, achieved successes were still reached by large investments in the overall tourist infrastructure and the promotion of Montenegro’s accessibility as a tourist destination. The value of the investment is estimated at about three billion euros, so it is not surprising that, according to reports from the World Travel and Tourism Council WTTC Montenegro has for years been ranked among the fastest growing tourist destinations.
Tourism in Montenegro is an important economic branch. How challenging is it, in that sense, to be at the forefront of the National Tourism Organization of Montenegro?
– The fact that the overall contribution of tourism to GDP amounts to over 22% of GDP, and that according to WTTC forecasts, by 2026 this share will be as much as 30%, says enough about the importance of tourism for the Montenegrin economy. Sustainable tourism development is the strategic commitment of our country and in that sense, the demanding tasks are put in front of an organisation of which I am at the forefront. Creating and improving the image of the country, positioning Montenegro on the tourist map of the world, creating new offers and improving existing ones, which will not only be memorable for tourists, but also will become an opportunity for opening new jobs and generating income for everyone working in tourism, implies coordinated activities, communication and co-operation. Tourism carries with it many challenges, but I think that challenges are an integral part of every job. It is a privilege to work in a field that is one of the pillars of the country’s development.
What kind of comments are mostly made of Montenegro?
– According to the Guest Survey research on the attitudes and consumption of tourists conducted by the National Tourism Organisation during the summer tourist season in 2017, the data obtained gives the overall impression that tourists are satisfied with the elements of tourist offer and that Montenegro is an attractive tourist destination. The best reviews are given to the beauty of nature and regions, the courtesy of the staff at the accommodation facility, the comfort of accommodation, the hospitality of the local population, personal security, the vividness and the orderliness of the place. The research results have shown that our guests are happy to return. More than 65% of tourists stayed in Montenegro several times. When it comes to tourists from B&H, over 79% of those surveyed has visited our country more than three times.
What would you recommend to every tourist who comes to Montenegro?
– Our beaches are traditionally the main reason for the arrival of tourists to the Montenegrin coast, but as well as enjoying the sun and the sea, it is also worth discovering a different Montenegro. Cruising on Skadarsko Lake, the popular bird watching in this unusual reserve of rare species, a refreshment from the summer heat in the Lipska cave of exceptional speleological value, a walk through the last virgin forest in Europe – Biogradska gora, a visit to the Black Lake on Durmitor, a panoramic route drive between the lakes and the sea in Bar with organised viewpoints, are just some of the activities that I would recommend. For the adrenaline seekers, the famous rafting on the Tara river is a must, or to pass through the Nevidio canyon, after which they can expect a complete relaxation in nature in one of the ethnic villages in the north of Montenegro. From this year, there are also two newly opened modern adventure parks in Kolašin and Žabljak, so I would recommend to tourists from B&H not to miss this summer the northern part of our country on their way to the sea.
What will the summer season 2018 be like on the Montenegrin coast?
This season will meet the tourists with 438 well-kept beaches, including 30 of them with a prestigious international ecological acknowledgment – the Blue Flag. And this summer we promise a good party. We will have over 200 events, from popular music and cultural ones, such as the City Theater in Budva, the Purgatory in Tivat, the Bar yearbook, Montenegro Film Festival in Herceg Novi or the Kotor Art Festival, to fashion, art and sport-recreation events like the festival Three Canyons in Piva. The news that will mark this summer is the joining of Chedi hotel to a number of global hotel brands operating in Montenegro. It is the first of the seven hotels whose construction is planned within Luštica Bay, a tourist city worth 1.1 billion euros. The hotel will contain 111 rooms, 51 in the hotel and 60 in the form of private condominiums available as exclusive studio holiday apartments. Luštica Bay marina opens this year with 176 berths, i.e. marinas with several residential quarters. They include different types of housing units, from apartments to the most luxurious buildings, family houses and villas.
How long have you been working in tourism?
– I have been working in the field of tourism for more than 15 years. I became the director of National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro in December 2014, after working as a general manager of Directorate for Tourism Destination Management at the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. Throughout many years of work in the field of tourism, I have gained a great experience in this field. The dynamics of the job, cooperation with foreign countries, the creation and promotion of the offer of a country whose tourism potential is huge, and which is, of course, still facing full tourist prosperity, are to me at the same time a challenge and an honour. Teamwork, willingness and readiness of all of us to improve the offer and the business environment, give results in terms of achievements, the placing and importance of Montenegro on the tourist map. My job is a great pleasure to me. Often I can say to my associates that we are privileged because we are doing the most beautiful job in Montenegro, and I really mean it.
Who was the wind in your back when you were building your career?
– Since the beginning of my work engagement, I had the good fortune to work with the brilliant teams of colleagues who unselfishly shared the knowledge, gained experiences and who supported me. Of course, my business career would not have been possible without the unconditional support of my family. Although I was often faced with numerous choices and sacrifices, and it was not easy, with the understanding of my closest ones, I managed to succeed in answering the demands of the work. Work, dedication to work, and responsibility are the basic preconditions for success. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a team of people sharing the same values, success cannot be missed.
If strangers would ask you to describe your country, what would you say?
– Montenegro is a country of diversity. Everyone here can find something for themselves and according to their budget. Families with children, young people who are looking for a good time, and lovers of intact nature, and those who want adrenaline and active vacations … In one day you can afford several different attractionsand pleasures, and always experience a different Montenegro. It is difficult for even the most picky of guests to remain indifferent with such a variety of choices, especially during the summer months. It is precisely the versatility of the offer, the blend of contrasts, the richness of diversity, the unusual experiences at every breathtaking step, that is best described by our Wild Beauty slogan, which is, to my satisfaction, more and more recognisable in the world.