Southeast Europe Tourism

 

Southeast Europe (SEE) is emerging as the centre of ‘New Europe’ and the countries of SEE are set to become major tourist destinations with Greece and Turkey leading the way over the past decade having visitation of international tourists exceeding 33 million and 39.5 million respectively in 2018. Other countries of SEE – Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Montenegro; North Macedonia; Romania and Serbia together welcomed an additional 44 million international tourists in 2018, representing 64 per cent growth in international inbound tourism over the past 5 years.

The combined population of the SEE countries is around 147 million and the total GDP for the region in 2018 was over 1,300 EUR Billion. While the focus of tourism is often about international travel and visitation, data published by SEE countries indicate that domestic tourism is a significant component of each country’s tourism economy. In Romania for instance, 76 per cent of overnight stays are by locals and this needs to be considered in the context of tourism development projects and infrastructure.

The SEE region is located near the long-established trade routes between Asia and Western Europe and has an ethnic diversity that contributes to its unique cultural development. It is where empires met, fought and combined to create this unique culture leaving their own indelible mark on the local architecture, cuisine, languages, music and traditions. In SEE, one finds UNESCO World Heritage sites and archaeological treasures tracing back to the ancient Greeks, Byzantine, Ottoman and Russian Empires. Also, medieval Orthodox monasteries, Renaissance Catholic churches, mosques and minarets standing in close proximity and within the same city walls.

The SEE region offers visitors and locals many different experiences from gastronomy, to natural and cultural heritage, traditions, hospitality, historical sites, impressive coastlines and so much more. The aroma of local food from bazaars testifies to the fusion of East and West, while the region’s eclectic music, dance and cultural festivals celebrate this rich heritage. The UNWTO’s Western Silk Road program recognises this important cultural heritage and guides a unified effort to promote it globally.

The indented coastline of SEE extends some 3,500 kilometres along the warm waters of the Adriatic, Ionian, Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas and touches all the SEE countries except Serbia and North Macedonia. Its spectacular sandy and rocky beaches dotted with historic fortifications are now the sought-after destination for over 80 million tourists who stay in a diverse range of accommodation including local and global branded 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts.

Access to the seas brings large numbers of tourist cruise ships and luxury yachts, and provides for limitless water sports. While the Greek Islands are well known around world, Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach, Montenegro’s Sveti Stefan Beach and Croatia’s Zlatni Rat Beach are among many SEE beaches gaining global prominence.

Rising from the coastal areas, the mountain ranges that dominate SEE and provide tourists with year-round pursuits to experience ecotourism, cultural and heritage tourism, trekking and unparalleled air, land and water-based adventure sports. Cooperation between SEE countries has seen mega trails developed such as Via Dinarica that crosses seven countries and provides access to 19 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 20 National Parks, 240 mountains, 2,000 kilometres of hiking and biking trails and over 2,200 spectacular waterways.

Snow skiing is one of the main winter activities with over 120 established ski resorts across all the SEE countries and 850 kilometres of ski slopes. Bankso and Borovets ski resorts in Bulgaria are the highest (2,560 metres) and considered the best in SEE providing the excitement and challenge that rival the western European ski slopes.

Medical, health and wellbeing tourism is a developing sector founded on the ‘medical spa’ health, relaxation and rehabilitation centres that have been around for over 150 years in SEE countries. New medical and spa facilities, and wellness resorts have been integrated into many hotel complexes and provide modern medical, dental and optical procedures as well as unique traditional treatments and balneotherapy. As the majority of natural mineral water spas are located in regional areas, tourists can combine their treatments with a reinvigorating ecotourism holiday in picturesque settings.

Experiencing new cuisines complemented by local varietal wines is one of the best ways to become immersed in the cultures of the SEE region. More than 400 autochthonous varieties of wine grapes are grown across the countries of SEE and with their own traditional cuisines, fuel potential for greater development of wine and food tourism in the region. In addition to gastronomy tours in every SEE country, much anticipated food and wine festivals are held every year such as the Balkan Wine Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, RO-Wine International Wine Festival in Bucharest, Romania and Rostiljiјаdа, an authentic grilled meat festival held annually in Leskovac, Serbia.

The SEE countries have growing economies and business tourism is a significant market for the region’s tourism industry. New hotels in capital cities and commercial centres have been developed for global hotel brands and more are under construction to meet demand. Conference and exhibition complexes have developed in major business centres and there are plans for these facilities to be developed in many regional cities to decentralise business tourism and its economic benefits. SEE countries are also promoting their destinations to the Meeting, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) market, encouraging a fusion between business and leisure tourism with the intention of enticing delegates back for an extended holiday in Southeast Europe.

North Macedonia

 

Country Profile

While easily accessible from all points abroad, and boasting all the amenities of the Western world, North Macedonia is still one of Europe’s least discovered tourist destinations: a natural paradise of mountains, lakes and rivers, where life moves to a different rhythm, amidst the sprawling grandeur of rich historical ruins and idyllic villages that have remained practically unchanged for centuries.

The majority of the population of 2.09 million is ethnic Macedonian and Orthodox but there is also a significant Albanian Muslim minority. One can expect a wonderful mix of architectural and ethnic heritage. North Macedonia represents the Balkans in the truest sense, consisting of a fascinating mix of Greek, Albanian, Turkish, and Mediterranean influences. The country, covering an area of 25,700 square kilometres is land locked sharing borders with Serbia and Kosovo to the north, Albania to the west, Bulgaria to the east, and Greece to the south.

North Macedonia, a parliamentary republic, is a member of the UN, WTO and the Council of Europe, and has applied for NATO membership. It has also been a candidate for joining the European Union since 2005 and in 2018, the EU Council set out a path towards opening accession negotiations in June 2019. North Macedonia’s capital and largest city, Skopje with a population of 507,000 is located in the country’s north on the Vardar River. It is emerging as a modern city hosting international trade, cultural and sporting events while being endowed with many historic landmarks, archaeological sites and architectural monuments.

North Macedonia’s economy picked up in 2018 following stagnation in 2017, posting GDP growth of 2.7 per cent supported by consumption and net exports. It is now well positioned, according to the world Bank to seize opportunities created by a new outlook ensuing resolution of the country’s official name. The government’s early market-oriented reforms, openness to trade and prudent macroeconomic management have created an environment of economic stability that has attracted private investment and boosted exports to 5.7 billion EUR (2018), particularly manufacturing. North Macedonia’s exports include foodstuffs, textiles, steel and automotive parts.

The economic outlook for North Macedonia is positive and growth is expected to gradually rise to 3.2 per cent in 2020 aided by resolution of the country’s official name and EU accession negotiations. Large infrastructure projects, in particular roads and the lifting of moratoriums on local governments’ ability to issue building permits will further boost investments. Consumption is expected to be a stable source of growth, sustained by increases in employment, wages and household lending. Net exports, especially those related to FDI are expected to contribute positively to growth (World Bank).

Economic Indicators – 2018





Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in North Macedonia

Continuing FDI provides an important catalyst for the development of North Macedonia’s economy. In 2018, FDI inflow reached 658.9 million EUR or 5.8 per cent of GDP, from major economies including Germany, Greece, US and UK. North Macedonia’s legal and regulatory framework is favourable to foreign investors and provides for incentives to attract new investments.

Invest North Macedonia is the Government of North Macedonia’s official investment and export promotion agency responsible for attracting foreign investments and supporting the promotion of the country’s exports. It assists investors to avail themselves of the benefits on offer to investors including:

  • All foreign investors are granted the same rights and privileges as Macedonian nationals. They are entitled to establish and operate all types of self-owned private companies or joint-stock companies;
  • North Macedonia has introduced a ONE-STOP-SHOP SYSTEM that enables investors to register their businesses after 4 hours of submitting on application (in practice, it might take 1-2 business days);
  • Recent economic reforms have included a revised corporate income tax rate of 10 per cent and personal income tax rate of 10 to 18 per cent relative to taxable income;
  • Access to 650 million consumers through trade agreements negotiated by the government;
  • The government has sign investment protection treaties with 28 countries and agreements for avoidance of double taxation with some 41 countries; and
  • The Constitution of the Republic of North Macedonia guarantees an investor’s right to property. Foreign investors may acquire property rights for buildings and for other immovable assets to be used for their business activities, as well as full ownership rights over construction land through a locally registered company.


Tourism in North Macedonia

Tourism in North Macedonia is in its early stages of development but saw solid year-on-year growth of 12.8 per cent in 2018 taking total visitor arrivals who stayed overnight to 1.13 million. Just over 700,000 or 63 per cent were international visitors staying an average of 2.1nights. The number of Day Trippers have not been published and would significantly increase the total number of visitors. Visitors’ ‘Purpose of travel’ also isn’t published however as only 18 per cent of overnight stays are in the capital and business centre, Skopje, it could be assumed that a large proportion of business and government travel is day trips.

Skopje is a bustling city with a rich Hellenic heritage and a cityscape that is an incongruous mix of architectural styles and gigantic neoclassical statuary. Grandiloquent monuments sit beside monolithic socialist apartment blocks. Old Ottoman and Byzantine edifices recall the country’s pre-communist history while the business hub, happening bars, clubs and the arts scene project its forward-looking aspirations. Global hotel brands are present amongst Skopje’s 4 and 5-star properties including Marriot, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Accor.

The New York Times however wrote, “Macedonia’s best face is outside its cities, where snow-capped mountains, picturesque lakes and villages hidden in steep valleys evoke a lost kingdom.” Around 60 per cent of tourist overnight stays are in the scenic lake district in the south-west of the country. Here, the town of Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on the eastern shores of Lake Ohrid, popular with international and domestic tourists for its beaches, heritage and culture, bars and restuarants. Ohrid is one of the many fascinating towns in North Macedonia which has numerous historical monuments including the Samuil’s Fortress, Church of St John, the Monestry of Saint Naum and Lychnidos amphitheatre which is still used for many cultural events. The are also a number of beautiful fishing and mountain villages along the Lake’s coastline such as Trpejca, Pestani and Ljubanista.

Over 70 per cent of North Macedonia is mountainous and the country has listed three National Parks and 33 nature reserves. Mavrovo National Park is the largest protected area with 3 mountain ranges, 80 peaks and 60 canyons within its borders. It’s popular for snow skiing and winter sports, and when the snow melts, it has all that is required for an adventure break with hiking, biking, horse riding, kayaking and white water rafting available. Mavrovo also has much to offer ecotourists. The species statistics are impressive: 1,500 flora; 130 bird and 50 mammal types are found here.

Apart from the rare landscapes and spectacular natural beauty, nature also endowed North Macedonia with natural springs containing important therapeutic properties. The country spreads over vast inexhaustible geothermal underground lakes with some 60 thermal spring tapped for spa complexes. They offer facilities for treatment, rehabilitation, recreation and accommodation with Proevce spa near Kumanovo and Kezovica near Stip being particularly popular.

Snow skiing is also gaining prominence in North Macedonia’s tourism offering with 8 ski resorts providing 48 kilometres of ski slopes and 31 ski lifts. Popova Sapka, the largest resort, reaches an altitude of 2,525 metres and has 20 kilometres of ski slopes.

Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays over past 5 Years

SOURCE: STATE STATISTICAL OFFICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA



Profile of Accommodation by Tourist Destinations – 2017 and 2018

Serbia

 

Country Profile

The Republic of Serbia has passed through a period of dramatic change, managing a rapidly evolving political and economic environment since the first agreement of principles governing the normalisation of relations with Kosovo signed in April 2013. Now landlocked, Serbia has a land mass of 77,500 square kilometres located in the central region of the Balkan Peninsula of Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Romania. Serbia has a population of 8.74 million and its capital Belgrade, located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers has a population of 1.39 million and is one of Europe’s oldest cities.

Serbia is a candidate country for membership of the European Union (EU) reflecting the significant progress made so far in structural, economic and institutional reforms. The Government’s economic reform program focuses on ensuring economic and financial stability, halting debt accumulation and creating an environment for economic recovery, investment and growth to foster employment, and raise living standards. GDP growth for 2018 was 4.4 per cent, inflation was within target and the budget remained in surplus for the year helping to further lower the public debt burden.

The Serbian economy is expected to continue with solid growth of around 3-4 per cent over the medium term, although growth in 2019 is expected to slow to 3.5 per cent (World bank) as the effects of the increase in consumption and investment were to a large extent exhausted in 2018. Future investment and exports will be the main drivers of ongoing growth. Serbian authorities have the support of the EU and of the international financial institutions to modernise their infrastructure and support investment in the business community.

Serbia has a workforce of over 3 million with around 57 per cent employed in the services sector which contributes 50 per cent of GDP. Tourism, as part of this sector will continue to develop and is expected to make a larger contribution to GDP than the 3.2 per cent made in 2018. The agricultural sector contributed 6 per cent of GDP and the industrial sector, 26.4 per cent. Serbia has significant quantities of coal, lead, zinc, copper and gold but lack of investment has affected the mining sector for several years, preventing the country’s economy from fully realising the benefits of this wealth.

Economic Indicators – 2018





Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Serbia

The Government of Serbia is committed to developing a stable and predictable business climate by implementing regulation which grants foreigners the same rights as its citizens to conduct business, with the benefits of a free market, favourable tax regime and investor incentives. These benefits include:

  • Regulation on Conditions and Methods of Attracting Direct Investment;
  • The Stabilization and Association Agreement between the Republic of Serbia and the EU was brought into force on 1 September 2013. It guarantees the alignment of national legislation with EU laws making conditions for investment and business more recognisable and predictable for foreign investors;
  • The Government may make cash grants available to investors to offset initial capital investment and foster start-ups businesses;
  • Corporate tax rate is 15 per cent. However, a 10-year corporate profit tax holiday is available to investors who hire more than 100 employees and invest over 8.5 million EUR;
  • Government or local municipalities can sell construction land at lower than market prices in support of investment projects;
  • Competitive operating costs for companies including taxation, utility services and transportation;
  • Availability of high quality multi-lingual labour at regionally competitive costs; and
  • Republic of Serbia has 54 effective double taxation agreements in place that cover income, capital and property.


Tourism in Serbia

Serbia is an emerging tourism market with 3.5 million tourists in 2018 of which half were international visitors. Belgrade and Novi Sad with their heritage buildings, lively cafes and night clubs attract two thirds of international arrivals while Serbian tourists favour the mountain and spa destinations.

Serbia’s landscapes range from the endless plains of Vojvodina in the north, the country’s breadbasket and wine cellar to the dramatic mountains and gorges of the national parks in the south, west and east of the country. Large numbers of tourists are attracted to the west with the Ovčar-Kablar gorge, towns of Čačak and Užice, and Zlatibor, one of the biggest Serbian tourism centres with its scenic natural environment, traditional mountain food, and picturesque ethnic villages. Further west is the spectacular Tara National Park and to the south, one of Europe’s most beautiful canyons – the canyon of the river Uvac.

The overlapping influences of past empires dating back to the Byzantium that occupied Serbia have contributed to an intriguing cultural diversity that pervades the country. It’s north leans to the profile of Central Europe while the south is characteristically of the wider Balkans and even Mediterranean. In addition to the many fortresses and heritage buildings, Serbia has five particularly significant cultural monuments with UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Serbia maybe landlocked but three of its major rivers are fully navigable – the Danube, Sava and the Tisa with luxury cruising of the Danube very popular with international tourists. During winter, Serbia’s 26 snow skiing resorts are in action. Rani Kopaonik at an altitude of 1,700 metres is the most popular and stays open after the snow melts attracting outdoor enthusiasts to explore the national park on foot or mountain bike.

Tourist Arrivals over past 5 Years







Accommodation Profile – 2017 & 2018

Romania

 

Country Profile

Romania is the largest country in the Balkan Peninsula of Southeast Europe with a land mass of 238,400 square kilometres stretching from Oradea on its border with Hungary, 620 kilometres across the Carpathian Mountains and Danube River to Constanta on the Black Sea. Its population in 2019 is around 19.5 million with 1.8 million living in the capital Bucharest, considered to be one of the leading financial and industrial centres in Eastern Europe. Romania is a semi-presidential republic with the President as head of state and Prime Minister as head of government. The country became a member of the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2007, and holds the revolving presidency of the EU Council from 1 January to 30 June 2019.

The Romanian Government’s priorities for 2018-20 include the improved absorption of EU funds and a focus on securing investments in infrastructure and development projects, simplifying tax administration and improving public health. Its programs reconfirm Romania’s roadmap for achieving the Europe 2020 objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and prioritises the use of EU funds in line with the European Structural and Investment Funds envelope for 2014-20 (EUR 40 billion). Political stability and continuing structural reforms will be important in the Government achieving its goals.

Romania has developed a market economy and is proceeding with programs to privatise public enterprises. Its robust economic growth in 2017 of 6.9 per cent was one of the highest in the region fuelled by strong exports and private consumption that was aided by expansionary fiscal policy and continued growth in real wages. Growth however slowed in 2018 to 4.1 per cent and this trend is expected to continue over the near term in line with the prevailing European economic climate.

Romania’s economy is mainly centred on the services sector which represents 56 per cent of GDP and employs 48 per cent of the workforce. Tourism in particular contributes 5.3 per cent to GDP and has the potential for significant growth. The technology sector has also seen immense growth in recent years due to emergence of a highly qualified and lower cost workforce, and is expected to expand from 6.2 to 12 per cent of GDP by 2025. The industrial sector contributes to 30.1 per cent of GDP with foreign direct investors involved in heavy industry (steel and metallurgy), vehicle parts manufacturing, building and construction, petroleum refining and textiles. Agriculture represents 4.4 per cent of GDP. Romania has limited energy dependence with large natural reserves of coal, oil, gas and uranium.

Economic Indicators – 2018

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Romania

Romania actively seeks foreign direct investment and offers a market of around 20 million consumers, a well-educated and skilled workforce at relatively competitive wages, a strategic location and an abundance of natural resources.

Since Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007 it has progressively introduced prudent monetary measures that have enabled the Country to gain the confidence of foreign investors and build FDI stock to EUR 73.3 billion. Benefit for FDI investors include:

  • The government has taken steps to strengthen tax administration, improve transparency and create legal means to resolve contractual disputes expeditiously;
  • Romanian legislation provides national treatment for foreign investors, guarantees free access to domestic markets and allows foreign investors to participate in privatisation of state-owned enterprises (SOE). There is no limit on foreign participation in commercial enterprises;
  • Foreign investors are entitled to establish wholly foreign-owned enterprises and to convert and repatriate 100 per cent of after-tax profits;
  • The application of a new tax code adopted in September 2015 enabled the introduction of numerous tax adjustments in favour of liberalisation of the economy including a reduction in the VAT rate from 24 to 19 per cent in 2017 and a reduction in dividend tax from 16 to 5 per cent;
  • Standard corporate tax is a fixed rate of 16 per cent with concessions for certain businesses;
  • Standard individual personal income tax is a flat rate of 10 per cent;
  • The Public Private Partnership (PPP) law was revised in 2011 and amended again in 2016, and envisions the creation of contractual public-private partnerships as an alternative to the formation of a project company and also deals with issues of liability;
  • Romania has concluded double taxation treaties with over 90 countries; and
  • Investromania and the Ministry of Business Climate, Trade, and Entrepreneurship have resources available to assist foreign investors.


Tourism in Romania

Romania has an abundance of rich and diverse natural and built tourism assets offering countless unique travel experiences. A car or train journey can transport travellers from a cruise on the Danube River to beautiful, intact medieval towns – from vibrant Bucharest to a luxurious Black Sea beach resort. And from Southern Transylvania and the perfectly preserved hilltop citadel of Sighisoara to the historic regions of Buconina with its unique painted monasteries or Maramures with authentic, centuries old villages. Romania’s Danube Delta is recognised as the world’s third most biologically diverse area and has been recognised by UNESCO for its outstanding universal value. Romania also boasts 8 UNESCO inscribed World Heritage sites.

While Romania is known for its outstanding heritage tourism including the notoriety of Transylvania, it offers tourists many more experiences to enjoy. Cruising the Black Sea and beyond from Constanta or river cruises on the Danube with overnight stays in traditional villages. Travelling Romania by stream train exposes the unique cultures and rural tourism of the country, exploring its gastronomical experiences and its spa and health retreats. There are many museums and opportunities to immerse in the vibrant and flourishing arts scene.

The ecotourism offering includes hiking or biking the dramatic landscapes of the Bucegi and Carpathian Mountains, National Parks, cave complexes and the Danube Delta wetlands. Sinaia tops Romania’s 93 snow ski resorts with over 18 kilometres of ski slopes. The 220 kilometres Black Sea shoreline attracts 8.6 per cent of tourists each year staying in the wide range of accommodation available including 4 and 5-Star resorts.

Foreign Visitor arrivals reached 11.72 million in 2018, a major proportion of who were same day travellers. Around 2.78 million international tourists, an increase of 6.3 per cent over 2017 stayed overnight in registered accommodation. Domestic tourism still dominates the sector with international tourists accounting for 21.5 per cent of total tourist arrivals. Of the non-resident tourists visiting Romania during the first three quarters of 2018, 57.3 per cent arrived for business – attending meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) and their expenditure accounted for 60.8 percent of tourist receipts for the period.

Romania’s diverse tourism offering has so much potential. Elevating the country’s tourism brand in the competitive global tourism market, tapping into new markets and investing in the country’s infrastructure and accommodation will collectively strengthen growth in the tourism sector.

Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays over past 5 Years

Note: Romania’s Institutul National De Statistica defines tourists as not conducting a paid activity as the main reason for their travel.





Accommodation Profile (International and Domestic Tourists) – 2017 & 2018

Source: Romania Institutul National De Statistica

Montenegro

 

Country Profile

Montenegro is one of the fastest growing and dynamic tourist destinations in Europe with well over two million international visitor arrivals in 2018, an increase of 10.2 per cent year on year. The turbulent history of this small country has left behind an invaluable treasure trove of numerous historic monuments throughout the country. The blue sea with endless beaches, restless waters of the clear rivers and beautiful mountain massifs, mixed with the spirit of the old times have given Montenegro everything needed for a memorable tourism experience. Montenegro occupies a land area of 13,812 square kilometres and shares borders with Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its ethnically diverse population stands at around 630,000 in 2019.

The capital and largest city is Podgorica with a population of around 156,000, or 30 per cent of Montenegro’s population. While having a typical Balkan history, the city was largely rebuilt following world War II into a modern, planned city and is the home of the country’s parliament. The government of Montenegro is a parliamentary republic that gained full independence from Serbia in June 2006. Montenegro is governed by independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The president is the head of state, elected directly for a period of five years. The unicameral parliament of Montenegro is led by a prime minister.

The government signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union (EU) in 2007 and received formal candidate status in December 2010. Negotiations for it accession continue with 32 negotiating chapters opened and 3 that have been closed so far. Montenegro also joined the World bank and IMF in 2007 and is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Montenegro has largely transitioned to a market economy since the fall of communism. Around 85 per cent of its state-owned companies have been privatised, including the entire banking and telecommunications sectors. Positive GDP growth rates of over 4 per cent in recent years are the result of high levels of investment and growth in the tourism sector, and construction of highway infrastructure. Economic growth in 2019 will be dependent on new private sector investment and productivity gains. The fiscal deficit and growing public debt are being addressed by the government through the adoption of their ‘Montenegro Economic Reform Program 2019 – 2021’.

The service sector accounts for around 70 per cent of GDP with tourism being a major sub-sector and alone, contributing 23.6 per cent to GDP. Forthe industry sector, the main areas are steelmaking, aluminium and consumer goods, while tobacco, citrus fruits, olives and grapes are important agricultural sub-sectors.

Economic Indicators – 2018





Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Montenegro

The Montenegrin Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA) is a national investment agency set up by the Government in 2005 to promote foreign investments and facilitate economic development in Montenegro. The MIPA partners with foreign and domestic investors, public and private sector, international organisations and private individuals to boost business opportunity and overseas investments in Montenegro.    Benefits available to investors include:

  • Foreign companies in Montenegro are guaranteed equal legal treatment as local ones. Foreign investors can operate in Montenegro either as a legal entity or a private person. The term ‘foreign investor’ applies to a company that has been set up in Montenegro by a foreign citizen or foreign legal entity, whose share of investment capital is higher than 25 per cent of total capital invested;
  • There is no limit on the amount of capital invested in Montenegro. Foreign investors are encouraged to invest freely within any industry and to transfer all assets, including profits and dividends;
  • Foreign investors can acquire rights to real estate such as commercial property, office space, residential space and construction land. All major insurance companies around the world insure investments in Montenegro;
  • Montenegro’s tax regime has become one of the most competitive in the whole of Europe with a 9.0 per cent corporate profit tax rate. Value Added Tax is 19.0 per cent (reduced to 7.0 per cent for Tourism);
  • For a small country, of only 620,000 inhabitants, Montenegro offers a highly skilled work-force at competitive costs. Every year, approximately 1,300 students graduate from universities and colleges in Montenegro;
  • Foreign investors can participate in local privatisation processes generally on the same terms as locals; and
  • A limited liability company can be set up in Montenegro within four working days, with founding capital of one Euro, and by submitting three documents: Founding agreement, Bylaws and forms are available at the web site: crps.me.


Tourism in Montenegro

Montenegro offers its visitors rugged mountain ranges, authentic medieval villages and a picturesque strip of sandy and pebbly beaches along its 293 kilometre-long Adriatic coastline. The Bay of Kotor, resembling a fjord, is dotted with coastal churches and fortified towns such as Kotor and Herceg Novi. Durmitor National Park, home to bears and wolves, encompasses limestone peaks, glacial lakes and the 1,300 metre-deep Tara River Canyon.

Budva, is a perfect example of the contrasts of Montenegro’s tourism offering. Once a small and quiet coastal town, today it’s a centre of tourism and one of the loudest and most packed towns on the Montenegrin coast during the summer. Its life began on the headland two and a half millennia ago and has poured out of the ramparts towards luxurious yachts, new buildings, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Budva has its own retreat – an island opposite the city with beautiful beaches, ice cold refreshments and seafood specialties.

Montenegro is a competitive and dynamic destination with the clear strategic objective of developing a sustainable tourism portfolio whilst protecting its dramatic and beautiful natural resources. Montenegro’s coastline of 73 beaches and the spectacular mountainous north drive the tourism sector. As part of its re-branding as a ‘best kept secret’ luxury destination, Montenegro has attracted the industry’s global brands and also successfully created its own recognisable brand.

While the market is focused on hotels and resorts along Montenegro’s coast, a broader based tourist industry is being developed with Montenegro’s abundance of scenic beauty (rural tourism, cultural and historic tourism, and ecotourism) and geographic diversity.  Water sports, bird watching, horse-back riding and fishing are ripe for development, and on the coast, marinas for yachts and ports for cruise ships. 

Montenegrin tourism representatives hope to shift a greater percentage of the tourist trade away from low-revenue package tours into more luxurious and upscale 4 and 5-Star projects. Montenegro also plans to become a centre for business and convention meetings (MICE).

New cruise ship routes, more flights, a popular land border with Croatia and stories amongst travellers are drawing an influx of tourists to this extraordinary tourist destination. A buzz with new five-star luxury hotels and new high-end international restaurants, Montenegro is the emerging ‘must-see’ destination of the Adriatic.

Tourist Arrivals over past 5 Years







Accommodation Profile -2018

Location of Overnight Stays – Seaside (94.9%); Capital (2.2%); Mountain Resorts (1.7%); Others (1.2%)

Croatia

 

Country Profile

Croatia is renowned for its diverse mainland, extensive archipelago, crystal-clear blue seas and a rich cultural heritage that lives beyond museums, churches and cathedrals. Croatia extends from the furthest eastern edges of the Alps in the northwest to the Pannonian lowlands and the banks of the Danube in the east. Its central region is covered by the Dinara mountain range, and its southern parts extend to the Adriatic Sea. The Country has an interesting crescent shape and borders Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, shares a maritime border with Italy and covers an area of 56,594 square kilometres.

Croatia has a population of 4.14 million comprises almost 90 per cent Croat and Serbian, Bosnian, Hungarian and Italian minorities. Its culture is unique having evolved from the many different ethnicities that have occupied the area as well as assimilations that have taken place among various cultures. Croatia’s capital and largest city is Zagreb with a population of 1.2 million, including the urban agglomeration.

Croatia is a parliamentary democracy, with most executive powers being concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Aside from the central and local levels of government, Croatia also has a system of regional government, with 20 counties plus the City of Zagreb which counts as both the capital city and a county. Each county has its own assembly and executive.

Croatia’s membership of the EU in 2013, has enhanced stability and has provided new opportunities for trade and investment. In 2018, Croatia continued its fourth year of positive economic growth supported by public consumption and the export of goods and services. Tourism in particular, continues to be a significant source of revenue and contributed 25 per cent to GDP in 2018. Wages are rising, employment is rising, and inflation remains benign. Over the next few years, growth is expected to moderate as the economy moves closer to its potential, according to the IMF. The current account is projected to decline but remain in surplus while external debt is expected to continue to decline.

Economic Indicators – 2018



Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Croatia

Croatia is open to foreign investment and the Croatian government continues to prioritise attracting foreign investors by offering incentives and improving the Country’s business environment:

  • All investors, both foreign and domestic, are guaranteed equal treatment under all forms of market-related legislation and free transfer of return on equity from the country upon completion of investment;
  • Croatian law allows for all entities, both foreign and domestic, to establish and own businesses and to engage in all forms of remunerative activities;
  • The Government’s e-government initiative ‘Hitro.hr’ provides 24-hour on-line business registration;
  • Croatia has signed investment protection treaties or agreements with over 60 countries and bilateral (double) taxation treaties with EU countries and 27 other countries;
  • The government has committed to simplifying the tax system in order to facilitate better business conditions and more investment;
  • The standard corporate income tax rate is 18 per cent with a 12 per cent rate introduced for companies with revenues of up to HRK 3 million (EUR 404,630). This standard rate may be reduced by 50 per cent, 75 per cent or 100 per cent subject to certain investment related incentives or if the company is located in a free zone or a special support area, provided conditions are met;
  • Personal income tax rates for 2018 are progressive – 24 per cent up to EUR 27,300 and 36 per cent above EUR 27,300;
  • Croatia recognises binding international arbitration which may be defined in investment agreements as a means of dispute resolution;
  • The Investment Promotion Act (IPA), amended in 2018, offers incentives to investment projects in manufacturing and processing activities, development and innovation activities, business support activities and high added value services. The incentives are either tax refunds or cash grants;
  • The Ownership and Property Rights Act establishes procedures for foreigners to acquire property by inheritance as well as legal transactions such as purchases, deeds, and trusts;
  • The Agency for Investment and Competitiveness, a Croatian government entity, provides investors with various services intended to help with implementation of investment projects;
  • The Strategic Investment Act helps investors streamline large projects by gathering all necessary information the investor needs to implement the project and then fast-tracking the necessary procedures for implementation of the project, including acquiring permits and help with location.
 

Tourism in Croatia

Croatia is a competitive and dynamic tourist destination with the clear strategic objective of establishing a stronger brand for different typology of tourism, leveraging Croatia’s historical heritage, the touristic development of inland cities and natural beauties including eight famous National Parks, the development of gastronomic and wellness and health tourism. The Government is implementing the Croatian Tourism Development Strategy 2013-20 with the aim of increasing the attractiveness and competitiveness of tourism by 2020.

The terrain of Croatia is varied with plains, lakes and rolling hills in the continental areas, densely wooded mountains in Lika and Gorski Kotor, which are part of the Dinaric Alps, and in the Adriatic region, a narrow coastal belt with rocky coastlines. A Croatian cruise provides the opportunity to discover the Adriatic coast, one of the most indented in the world with over 1,200 islands and islets of which only 48 are inhabited. Research shows that more endangered species (on a European level) breed in Croatia than any other small or medium-sized European country.

Rich in cultural and historical heritage, there are 15 intangible cultural heritage and 10 cultural and natural heritage sites included in UNESCO’s World Heritage lists. The most famous and most visited of these sites is Dubrovnik, a unique Renaissance city in the Mediterranean with preserved city walls built between the thirteenth and the seventeenth century. The historic ruins of Diocletian’s Palace in Split built in the early 300s AD, is also very popular. It was essentially the retirement home of Emperor Diocletian and a surrounding garrison. Pula’s Roman Amphitheatre is one of the finest of its kind with a complete ring of the outer wall still intact, it is the best preserved of Croatia’s ancient monuments and very much in use today.

Croatian cuisine is known as ‘the cuisine of regions’ which has gastronomical tourists travelling all over the country to experience it. Mainland cuisine resembles Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish – while the coastal region bears the influences of the Greek, Roman and Illyrian, as well as Italian and French cultures. Croatia is also famous for its excellent wines which are a product of long held winery traditions in the regions.

The topography of Croatia creates endless opportunities for adventure sports. They range from hiking and trail biking in the national parks, mountain climbing, zipling, skraping, kayaking to white-water rafting, and extreme diving at Imotski Red Lake. Glide through the air hot air ballooning or parachuting and paragliding in the mountains of Biokovo and Vidora Gora. Ten snow ski resorts operate in Croatia with the largest ones providing up to 6 kilometres of slopes. On the sea there is – sailing, kite surfing, wakeboarding, scuba diving and much more.

Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays over past 5 Years

SOURCE: CROATIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS







Profile of Accommodation by Tourist Destinations – 2016 and 2017

SOURCE: CROATIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS

Bulgaria

 

Country Profile

Bulgaria’s identity as a desirable tourist destination is becoming increasingly well-known beyond its traditional markets of mainly neighbouring countries and is attracting a growing number of tourists from Asian and western countries. Over 9.3 million international tourists visited Bulgaria in 2018, up 4.4 per cent year on year. They came to experience Bulgaria’s beguiling blend of nature, history and culture with mountains that rival golden Black Sea beaches, the Danube River and cities that hum with nightlife and the arts. The Country has a population of 6.99 million people and covers an area of 111,000 square kilometres, sharing borders with Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic, a unified state with local self-government of Municipalities that became a member of the European Union in 2007. Its capital Sofia with a population 1.28 million, is the economic hub of Bulgaria and home to most major Bulgarian and international companies operating in the Country as well as the Bulgarian National Bank and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange. Bulgaria joined the World Trade Organisation in 1996 and it renewed its engagement with the World Bank following endorsement of a new Country Partnership Framework in 2016.

In recent years, strong domestic demand combined with low international energy prices and sizeable exports have contributed to Bulgaria’s continuing economic growth of over 3 per cent and has also helped to ease inflation to 2.4 per cent for 2018 with a fall to 2.0 per cent (EU forecast) expected in 2019. Tourism contributed to 11.7 per cent of GDP in 2018. The economy is expected to grow at a healthy pace in 2019 subject to the influence of global economic conditions. Rising wages should support solid growth in private consumption, while increased absorption of EU structural funds should aid robust capital spending.

Bulgaria’s prudent public financial management contributed to budget surpluses in both 2017 and 2018. Its preparations for ERM II and the banking union are also strengthening financial sector supervision and are generally conducive to ongoing broad-based structural reforms. Foreign direct Investment (FDI) rose by 10.3 per cent in 2018 to EUR 1.53 billion (Bulgarian National Bank), representing approximately 2.8 per cent of GDP. The largest net FDI inflows came from the Netherland, followed by Germany and then Belgium with EUR 1.1 billion, 153.7 million and 94.3 million respectively.

Economic Indicators – 2018



Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bulgaria

The InvestBulgaria Agency (IBA), the government’s coordinating body, provides information, administrative services and incentive assessments to prospective foreign investors. Conditions and incentives applying to FDI include the following:

  • There are no sectors that are off limit to investors, nor are there any restrictions on the amount of foreign-owned enterprises. In the majority of cases, foreign entities are given the same treatment as national firms and their investments are not screened or otherwise restricted;
  • The Investment Promotion Act (2004) stipulates equal treatment of foreign and domestic investors. It creates investment incentives by helping investors purchase land, providing state financing for basic infrastructure and training new staff, and facilitating tax incentives and opportunities for public-private partnerships with the central and local government;
  • Tax incentives may apply in certain circumstances such as additional tax deductions for hiring of individuals who are long-term unemployed, handicapped, or elderly and reimbursing up to 100 per cent of the corporate income tax due for investment in regions with high unemployment;
  • Bulgaria offers one of the most-attractive tax environments for business in Europe, with benefits such as the corporate income tax rate of 10 per cent, a flat personal income tax rate of 10 per cent and a two-year VAT exemption for imports of equipment for investment projects above EUR 5.0 million that create at least 50 jobs;
  • The most common type of organisation for foreign investors is a limited liability company. The required minimum for registering a limited liability company is one euro. Other typical corporate entities include joint stock companies, joint ventures, business associations, general and limited partnerships, and sole proprietorships; and
  • The taxability of subsidiaries or branches of foreign commercial operations active in the country would depend on the existence of a bilateral treaty for the avoidance of double taxation between Bulgaria and the entity’s host nation. To this end, Bulgaria has concluded 68 agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, Germany and Japan. This is a sizeable number, and greatly reduces risks to investors and businesses seeking to operate in Bulgaria.
 

Tourism in Bulgaria

Bulgaria offers excellent conditions for tourism. The Black Sea Coast has become world known for its wonderful geographical and climatic conditions – warm seas with almost imperceptible tides, well wooded shores and vast beaches of golden sand.  Modern resorts such as Zlatni Pyassatis, Drouzba, Slunchev Bryan, Rousalka, Alberta, D’uni, St Constantine and Elenite offer a diversity of accommodation including 4 and 5 star global brand hotels and provide the best conditions for rest and recreation. Cruise ships and luxury yachts dock at Bulgaria’s Black Sea ports for their passenger to enjoy coastal environment and cities.

Each of the Bulgarian mountains has an identity of its own – their snow-capped peaks shimmering in the sun, covered by thick pine or deciduous forests interspersed with fragrant alpine meadows. An extensive network of tourist trails is marked out providing many different routes to explore. There are numerous cosy chalets and pleasant holiday houses nestled into the mountain folds. The mountain and ski resorts of Bovovets, Bankso, Pamporovo, Malyovista, Velingrad, Yundola and many more collectively have over 200 kilometres of world class ski slopes and are equally attractive in summer and winter. 

Bulgaria is also famous for its mineral springs (more than 500) with many of them used for Balneotherapy. Health resorts and spas have been built in Kyustendil, Vurshets, Sandanski, Pavel Banya, Hisar, Bankya and many more locations. The demand is high for health and wellness tourism combined with recreational/ecological tourism presenting new opportunities for development of contemporary medical and health integrated resorts in picturesque rural locations.

The rustic authenticity of the Bulgarian cuisine and superb wines define the Country’s gastronomy tourism. Chefs at high-end restaurants and small family run eateries across Bulgaria universally celebrate the Country’s vast selection of local, natural and organic produce. By focusing attention on the native ingredients and innovative ways of presenting traditional dishes, chefs, winemakers and farmers are succeeding in promoting the value of Bulgarian gastronomy.

There are 2000 explored and unexplored caves in Bulgaria. In one of them, the Magoura Cave, the unique rock drawings dating back to per-historical times can be seen. The Belogradchik rocks, the natural pyramids at Melnik, Pobiti Kamuni (stone forests) near Varna, the Er Kyupria (Devil’s Bridges) in the Rhodopes are some of the most intriguing sights of Bulgaria. In contrast, cruising on the Danube River allows tourists a continuum of sights, cities and varied landscapes along the 480 kilometres of river.

Besides the spectacular natural features of Bulgaria, there are countless historical and cultural monuments, nine of which are included in the UNESCO Global Cultural and Natural Heritage lists. The Thracian tumlus (burial mounds) near Kazanluk and the Proto-Bulgarian Madera Horseman near Shoumen are two of them. Entire towns and villages in Bulgaria are nominated as museum towns – Turnovo, Koprivshtitsa, Old Plovdiv, Melnik, Zheravna, Kotel, Tryavna, Nessebur and many other places where the past still lingers.

Bulgaria’s diverse topography creates a broad canvass for adventure and sports tourism to suit everyone preferences and capabilities. Its mountain regions play host to trail hiking and biking, mountaineering, snow skiing, bungee jumping, hunting and fishing. The swift flowing streams cater for white-water rafting and kayaking. Taking to the air, there’s hang-gliding, paragliding, hot-air ballooning, and parachuting. The seaside offers a different dimension with boating, fishing, surf skiing, kite-surfing and scuba diving. Bulgaria has an international reputation in equestrian sports and is pursuing one in the world of golf with courses designed by international names in the sport.

Bulgaria’s strategic location and Sofia in particular, at the crossroads of three continents, combined with its excellent air and land transport connections to major European cites, makes it ideal for conferences, conventions, trade fairs and the MICE events. International business travellers make up over 14 per cent of international arrivals. In addition to the National Palace of culture and the INTER EXPO Centre, most larger hotels including Ramada, IHG-Intercontinental and Hilton have in-house function rooms and conference halls.

Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays over past 5 Years

Note: ‘Tourist Arrivals’ only includes tourists who stayed overnight in registered accommodation. SOURCE: NATIONAL STAISTICAL INSTITUTE





Profile of Accommodation by Tourist Destinations – 2017 and 2018

Notes:SOURCE: NATIONAL STATISTICAL INSTITUTE
  1. Northeast Region statistics exclude Varna
  2. Southwest Region statistics exclude the capital city, Sofia
  3. Southeast Region statistics exclude Burgas

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Tourism Investment Brief

 

Country Profile

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is located on the western side of the Balkan peninsula and shares borders with Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. It is a country of 51,129 square kilometres which is almost landlocked except for a 20 kilometres coastline surrounding the town of Neum on the Adriatic Sea. In the central and eastern interior of the country the topography is mountainous, in the northwest it is moderately hilly and the northeast is predominantely flatland. The inland Bosnia is a geographically larger region with a moderate continental climate which changes moving to its southern tip while Herzegovina has a Mediterranean climate and a plain topography. BiH has a population of 3.5 million and its capital Sarajevo, is the largest city in the country and has a population of 696,700.

BiH comprises two entities – the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serb-led Republika Srpska (RS) each with its own president, government, parliament, police and other statutory bodies. A third and smaller region, the Brčko District, operates under a separate administration. Overarching these entities is a central Bosnian government and rotating presidency. The Federation is further divided into ten cantons, each with its own government and responsibilities. Both entities and the Brčko District also comprise a total of 143 municipalities. As a result, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a complex multi-tiered legal and regulatory framework that has to be navigated.

Membership of the EU is being pursued by Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU was ratified and entered into force on 1 June 2015. In February 2016, BiH formally submitted its application to join the EU, however the country is yet to receive an official candidate status. Major political, social and economic changes have been accomplished, particularly in banking, foreign direct investment and tourism but further structural reforms are required. Economic growth was estimated to have reached 3.2 per cent in 2018 (from 3 per cent the previous year), and is forecast to strengthen to 3.4 per cent in 2019 (WB estimate) supported primarily by consumption and public investment.

As the reform agenda deepens, a moderate rise in exports is expected but will be accompanied by a strong demand for imported goods and equipment. Remittances are likely to remain high and stable above 8 per cent of GDP and together with progress on reforms, will underpin a gradual pick-up in consumption. Investments in energy, infrastructure and tourism will also support job creation in those sectors. A stronger push on the capital investment program and streamlining spending remain high priorities on the authorities’ medium-term economic agenda.

Economic Indicators – 2018

 

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bosnia Herzegovina

BiH is actively pursuing FDI and has established the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) which is a State- level organisation mandated by the Council of Ministers to:

  • Attract and maximize the flow of foreign direct investment into Bosnia and Herzegovina, and encourage existing foreign investors to further expand and develop their businesses in BiH;
  • Facilitate the interaction between public and private sectors, and have an active role in policy advocacy in order to contribute to continually improving environment for business investment and economic development; and
  • Promote a positive image of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country that is attractive to foreign investors.
 

In accordance with the Law on Foreign Direct Investment Policy in BiH (“Official Gazette of BiH” Nos. 17/98, 13/03, 48/10 and 22/15), foreign investors are guaranteed the following:

  • National treatment for foreign investors, that is foreign investors have the same rights and obligations as the residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Foreign investors have the right to open accounts at any business bank in domestic or freely convertible currencies for their investments in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Foreign investors will have the right to freely hire foreign nationals unless otherwise provided for in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s labour and immigration laws;
  • Foreign investors are protected from nationalisation, expropriation, requisition and measures with equal effect; such measures may be taken solely in the public interest, in accordance with applicable laws and bylaws, with the payment of appropriate remuneration;
  • Foreign investors have the same property rights as real BiH legal entities;
  • Foreign investors have the right to transfer abroad freely and without delay to the freely convertible currency the profits generated as a result of their investment in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Corporate income tax rate is low 10 per cent and various tax concessions apply is certain circumstances; and
  • BiH has free trade agreements and avoidance of dual taxation agreements with a number of countries.
 

The rights and privileges granted to foreign investors and obligations arising from the FDI Act cannot be repealed or repealed with the entry into force of subsequent acts and subordinate legislation. If such subsequent laws and subordinate legislation are more favourable to foreign investors, they have the right to choose the regime that will be relevant to their investment. Further information on benefits applying to foreign investors that are offered at a state level can be found on the FIPA website or by contacting them direct.

The Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and BiH came into force on 01 June 2015, establishing a close partnership between the EU and BiH and deepening mutual political, economic and trade ties. The SAA is now the main framework for relations with the EU and will also contribute to the progressive alignment of BiH legislation with EU legislation.

Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A land where turquoise rivers run swift and sheep huddle on steep hillsides, BiH is one of Europe’s most visually stunning corners. With muezzins calling the faithful to prayer under a backdrop of church bells, it also provides a delightful fusion of East and West in the heart of the Balkans. Appropriately, the country now markets itself as the “heart-shaped land”, unintentionally revealing more perhaps than just the shape of its borders. BiH is busily, and deservedly, re-etching itself on the world travel map as a bona fide tourism magnet of some repute.

The tourism sector is becoming a substantial contributor to the BiH economy and was estimated to represent 10.2 per cent of GDP in 2018. Strong growth in tourist arrivals has continued over the past four years with 12.1 per cent growth in 2018 driving tourist arrival to a new high of 1.47 million of which 71.8 per cent were international or foreign tourists. Interestingly, tourists from the Middle East and Asia comprised 10.1 and 15.2 percent of international visitors respectively. The average stay for international visitors in 2018 was 2.17 days with Maltese tourist staying the longest at 5.2 days.

Tourist are attracted to the rugged and pristine wilderness of BiH with its three spectacular National Parks: Sutjeska, Nacionalni park Una, and Kozara, and forests that cover almost 50 per cent of the country. Sutjeska National park is home to BiH’s highest mountain peak Maglic (2,386 metres), the heart shaped glacier Tmovacko Lake, Europe’s last rainforest Perucica and the amazing canyon of River Tara. In addition to the exhilarating hiking and biking in the mountain regions and observing the wild animals, there’s much more to do including – horse riding, white-water rafting and kayaking, paragliding, hunting and excellent fly fishing.

BiH is an extraordinary blend of the old and new worlds. Over 10,000 years it has seen the likes of the indigenous pagan Illyrian and Thracian tribes, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, and later Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian invaders. From ancient monasteries of the Franciscan and orthodox monks to the heralded bridges like Stari Most in Mostar and stone mosques of the Ottomans, the medieval character of BiH has been well-preserved. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, the Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar and the Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards. Scattered throughout the country are authentic Bosnian villages where the true culture, local gastronomical treats and friendliness of BiH can be experienced. The village Lukomir offers a unique experience sitting at an altitude of almost 1,500 metres on the Bjelašnica Mountain.  

Health and wellbeing tourism are very popular with a plentiful supply high quality thermal springs. BiH is investing heavily in modernising its thermal spa facilities to offer guests superior spa services at prices lower than its European neighbours. Hotels have integrated spa facilities into their complexes with some hotel appealing to the MICE market with conference facilities combined with spa and ecotourism such as the Tarčin Forest Resort & Spa MGallery by Sofitel.

Sarajevo, BiH’s capital is the fastest changing city in Europe. Embracing both its eastern and western traditions, Sarajevo is charming with its oriental old town and bustling Austro-Hungarian centre. New hotels and a lively nightlife are complemented by some of the most cutting-edge festivals in Southeast Europe. Sarajevo is also well known for the 1984 Winter Olympic Games and the skiing on Mt. Bjelasnica and Jahorina has since been revived with a full range of new facilities and accommodation available.

Snowboarding, snow shoeing, cross country and tour skiing are gaining popularity and are great additions to a fun winter program on both mountains. Sarajevo is not however, the only ski resort in BiH. There are 13 ski resorts in all, including Vlasic Mountain near the ancient town of Travnik, the most established ski resort in central Bosnia. 

Herzegovina, the southern region of BiH, enjoys the warm and sunny Mediterranean climate all year round at Neum. Located between the Dalmatian cities of Split and Dubrovnik just north of the Peljesac Peninsula, it offers the finest of Dalmatian cuisine and the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic at reasonable rates. From Neum one can visit the Hutovo Blato Bird Reserve near Capljina, Vetrenjica Caves, the Kravica Waterfalls near the town of Ljubuski, the Catholic pilgrimage site of Medugorje or the lovely city of Mostar.

Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays over past 5 Years

Source: BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AGENCY FOR STATISTICS





Albania

 

Country Profile

Tourism in Albania has been a key element in the country’s economic activity and growth, and is constantly evolving as international tourists explore its heritage, natural and cultural wonders. The country lies in the west of the Balkan Peninsula bordering Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south. The Mediterranean Sea with the Adriatic and Ionian Sea make up the entire west border of the country. The country’s coastline is about 480 kilometres long composed of both sandy and rocky beaches, bays, caves and lagoons. The country features notable topographical diversity with landscapes ranging from the snow-capped Albanian Alps, Sharr, Skanderbeg, Korab, Pindus and Ceraunian Mountains, the lakes country around Podradec, fertile plains of Fier, to the sunny Adriatic and Ionian Sea coastal strip.

Albania covers an area of 28,750 square kilometres and has a population of around 2.94 million, 67 per cent of who live in urban areas. It is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic where the President is elected as head of state and Prime Minister is the head of the government and hold the executive powers. The seat power is located in the country’s capital, Tirana that has a population of around 884,000. Tirana is the most important economic, financial, political and trade centre in Albania due to its location in the centre of the country and its airmaritimerail and road transportation infrastructure.

lbania has been transformed from one of the poorest countries in Europe into an upper middle income country. The country is implementing important reforms to revitalise growth and job creation while advancing the integration agenda of the EU. Albania is richly endowed with underdeveloped natural resources such as oil and minerals, including chromite, which makes it a potentially attractive destination for foreign investors. The Patos-Marinza oilfield in Albania is the largest onshore oilfield in continental Europe. Agriculture, Industry and the services sectors account for 19.0, 20.9 and 47.3 per cent of GDP respectively.

Economic growth rose to 4.2 per cent in 2018 due to favourable hydrological conditions boosting energy production. On the expenditure side, household consumption and investment contributed to much of the growth. Economic growth is however expected to fall to 3.8 per cent in 2019 and level off at 3.6 per cent on average over the medium term. Growth will continue to be led by domestic demand followed by fixed capital formation growth. Net exports are also expected to support growth, albeit to a lesser extent as imports expand in line with domestic consumption (World bank).

Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased significantly in recent years as the government has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms. FDI in Albania increased to 981.6 million Euro in 2018 as compared to 899.9 million Euro in 2017 (Central Bank of Albania). The largest volume of FDI in the fourth quarter of 80.2 million Euro originated in Switzerland, followed by France with 43.7 million Euro.

Economic Indicators – 2018

   

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Albania

The Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA) is the official investment and export promotion agency of Albania. Its main mission is to attract foreign investments and provide support and after-care services to investors that decide to invest in the country. AIDA is directed by a Management Board chaired by the Prime Minister, and whose members are, among others, five cabinet ministers representing the most important sectors of the Albanian economy.

The government of Albania offer a number of benefits to investors including:

  • The government of Albania has ratified the “Investment Charter”, a Stability Pact initiative reforming the legal environment to facilitate FDI in Southeast Europe. It will adopt a unified investment law that will replace existing rules governing investment, including the current Law on Foreign Investment (1993) and the Law on Strategic Investments (2015);
  • The new law will amongst other things, guarantee that the government of Albania will not expropriate foreign and domestic investment in the future unless under circumstances where it is an action of last resort and in line with the principles of international law;
  • The new law will ensure adherence to labour, safety and environmental standards and regulations contained in Albania’s domestic law and in relevant international treaties to which Albania is a party;
  • A package of tax incentives has been approved for strategic investments mainly in the tourism sector. Under the new package, as of January 1, 2018, newly built four and five-star hotels will benefit from 10-year tax exemptions, and they will not be required to pay infrastructure taxes. VAT in the tourism sector will also drop, from the current level of 20 per cent down to six per cent;
  • Corporate income tax rate is a flat 10 per cent;
  • Streamlined business procedures that enable a company to be registered or get all the permits needed in one day at the cost of one Euro;
  • A young, educated, cost-competitive work force; and
  • Albania’s strategic position at the gates of the more than 65 million consumers of Southeast Europe.
 

Tourism in Albania

Albania is characterized by its rich archaeological and cultural heritage dating back to the classical period when Illyrians and Ancient Greeks inhabited the region. Over the course of history, the territory of Albania was occupied and populated by Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans. Notably the country features unspoilt beaches, mountainous landscapes, a traditional cuisine, archaeological artefacts, unique traditions and the wild ambience of the countryside.

The broad palette of Albania’s tourism offering is the foundation of the Government’s National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Tourism 2018-2022. While ‘sun and sand’ tourism continues to be the dominant drawcard for international and domestic tourists, its market share is giving way to increasingly popular participative and experiential activities. Albania is well placed to cater for this evolving market with its own brand of cultural, adventure and ecotourism.

The interest in discovering Albania’s tourism attractions drew almost 6 million international tourists to the country in 2018 representing a year on year increase of 16 per cent and contributing 3.83 billion Euros to the economy. Around 76 per cent of these visitors stayed in hotel accommodation for an average of 4.3 nights. Global hotel brands already established in Albania include – Hilton Garden Inn; Best Western in Tirana; and Melia Hotels International in Durres.

Tirana, the country’s capital city is known for its cultural heritage, religious diversity, the colourful buildings, Italian and Socialist architecture, and natural attractions such as Dajti Mt and parks around artificially created lakes. Tirana is also widely known for its stylish restaurant scene and the traditional agrotourism areas in the southern and eastern outskirts of the city.  The city organizes many festivals, sports competitions and live music performances.

The most prominent feature of Albania’s topography is possibly its numerous successive mountain ranges with an average altitude of more than 700 metres. Much of the mountains including the Albanian Alps lie to the north, east and south of the western lowlands. The Korab Mountains dominate the east of the country and expand 40 kilometres along the eastern border of the country, where peaks can reach 2,500 metres. The mountainous landscapes with glacial lakes and caves are traversed by river valleys with crystal waters, gorges and mountain saddles and have a rich biodiversity attracting both domestic and foreign tourists to enjoy ecotourism pursuits including trekking, mountaineering, biking, snow skiing and snowshoeing, kayaking and fishing. There’s also hydrospeed experience in the wilderness of the River Vjosa.

Albania has a Marine Park and 14 National Parks covering around 6.7 per cent of the country. Butrint is both a National Park and the site of one of Albania’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites with the well-preserved ancient city walls, a baptistery, a great basilica, theatre and castles. Gjirokastër is listed with Berat as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The city is described as a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estates. Typical houses consist of a tall stone block structures which can be up to five stories high.

Albania’s southern coastline, with its lovely traditional hamlets, cobblestoned streets and small Orthodox churches, has plenty of beautiful beaches lapped by pristine waters, rivalling nearby Greece for half the price. There are too many to mention but Dhermi, near Drymades is one of the most famous places in Albania, a strip of white rock lapped by turquoise waters. The beach is one of the longest and, in the summer, most crowded in the Riviera. Meandering inland from the coastal bays, there are natural springs and spas in many locations to cater for health and well-being tourism.

Business tourism is evolving with convention centres and expo facilities as stand alone complexes and also integrated with major hotels. MICE delegates can also join up with the growing number of gastronomy tourists on guided tours that explore the Albanian countryside seeking out authentic regional cuisine and wines.

International Tourist Arrivals and Overnight Stays over past 5 Years

Notes:
  1. Source – Albania Institute of Statistics INSTAT
  2. Albania does not publish Domestic Tourism statistics
  3. Transiting Arrivals have been excluded