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

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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


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Profile of Accommodation by Tourist Destinations – 2017 and 2018

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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

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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

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Accommodation Profile – 2017 & 2018

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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

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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

[supsystic-tables id=26] Note: Romania’s Institutul National De Statistica defines tourists as not conducting a paid activity as the main reason for their travel.

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

[supsystic-tables id=29] Source: Romania Institutul National De Statistica


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

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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:

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

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Accommodation Profile -2018

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



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 ‘’ 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 [supsystic-tables id=19]SOURCE: CROATIAN BUREAU OF STATISTICS

[supsystic-tables id=20]

Profile of Accommodation by Tourist Destinations – 2016 and 2017


Watch ITSC 2019 Conference Sessions

Developing Sustainable Tourism in a Changing Environment

ITSC 2019 Morning Sessions




ITSC 2019 Afternoon Sessions

Panel Discussion: Case Studies of Successful Investments in Tourism

Breakout session 1 – Hotels, Integrated Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Session 2 – Destination Management, Tour Operators, Attractions, Mice, Branding and Marketing