|Economy of the region|
|Monday, 11 June 2007|
South Serbia region is very interesting tourist destination by its geographic position (square of roads), with extraordinary natural beauties, culture and historical values, good clime, rich rivers, lakes and thermal water. Beautiful nature and richness of rivers, lakes and animals living in the nature, are the potential for development of hunting and fishing tourism. Water and spa potentials are the main tourist resource of this region. Their natural protection, development and management are of essential importance for strategic usage of these resources.
Mixing of different cultures and civilizations in the region resulted in large number of culture and historic monuments. Therefore, traditional and culture heredity in the region is very rich. Putting those potential into the coordinated and integrated development of tourism, would result in improvement of its offer, attraction of new type of tourists, and reaching remarkable financial effects and results in this area.
Beside numerous advantages, regional tourism has a lot of problems: lost of long-term visions on potential investment in tourism on all levels; inadequate law and institutional framework; insufficient and inadequate accommodation capacities; tourist offer is not well established; uncontrolled, dysfunctional and economically irrational usage of existing resources; lack of own capital for revitalization of tourist industry; inadequate professional management; working method is strongly influenced by seasons; low promotion of tourist offer; unfinished process of privatization etc.
Knowing this problems, and in order to use those resources, it is necessary to establish structure of systematical, planed, targeted, harmonized and coordinative development of various tourist items and destinations.
Especially, investments should be targeted to:
· Improvement of image of region like tourist destination
· Improvement of educational level of employments in tourism
· Improvement of function of Tourist Organizations
· Better accessibility and visibility of tourist attractions
· Development of new tourist products
The indicators for successful measurement are:
· Generated income and profit;
· Increase of number of visitors and nights on annual base (%);
· % of establishing and improving of accommodation capacities;
· % conferences connected with local economic activities;
· % of beneficiaries who successfully finished trainings;
· Existence of informational system about tourist offer;
· Tourist contribution in GDP (%) and changes in its structure;
· Number of new accommodation capacities and its improvement;
· Number of hotels new/renovated;
· Number of attraction new/improved;
· Increase in flow of vehicles/cargo (% / annual);
· Increase in flow of passengers/cargo (% / annual);
· Implemented value added/ annual (%)
· Provided gross/net new working places on annual base
Priority 1. IMPROVED IMAGE OF SOUTHERN SERBIA AS TOURIST DESTINATION
Southern Serbia region has its geographic, historical and cultural distinctiveness, but it is not well promoted in terms of creating a special image, by which the region can be recognised, both by domestic and foreign tourists. In that sense, strong regional cooperation between TOs, municipalities and tourist industry must be established, in order to create a mutual package of tourist services and efficient system of promotion stressed on targeted categories of tourists.
Well established tourist offer presumes safe local and national roads, created information and cable infrastructure, healthy water, protected assets and values, application of modern communication means (internet).
Promotion of regional tourism is one of the weakest points, even inside of the region. It is very hard to promote a product without an integrated, market driven offer package. In that sense, connection of the most important events, together with organised visits to most important attractions, followed by a traditional food from Southern Serbia, and mutual market approach in sense of mutual Info-Centres, brochures, internet presentations, common face on media and on fairs, must generate as the result of well-established and strong integration and cooperation of all stakeholders.
Branding is the next step. Southern Serbia should use its distinctiveness and transform it into strong, well recognised regional brand. But that also must be followed by a high level of quality in order to satisfy sophisticated tourist demand. Potential tourist category that gives good bases for branding is rural, or ethno tourism., which fit into the national tourism promotion strategy.
Priority 2 IMPROVED EDUCATION AND TRAINING OF TOURISM STAFF
Regarding the fact that tourism is one of the activities with high influence of human factor, special emphasis should be put on improving the quality of services given by the tourism staff, especially regarding the hospitality, language knowledge, improvement of special skills, computer literacy etc.
Priority 3 IMPROVED VISIBILITY AND FUNCTIONALITY OF TOURIST ORGANISATIONS
Tourist Organisations should be the leaders in the promotion of the regional tourism. There functioning in that role is limited at present, but plans for improvement are under discussion and will be realised in the coming years. Location and visibility of most of the Tourist Organisations is unfavourable. These are one of the key factors for successful execution of the mission of the TOs. Concrete measures should be undertaken to address these problems. Due to low municipal budgets, activities of donors might be used to solve this issue.
Both technical equipment and housing of personnel are on very low level. Total refurbishment of the offices is needed in order to improve the functionality. TOs are sometimes overstaffed and have a lack of special expertise. Additional trainings for staff, especially regarding foreign languages and computer literacy are also required and new staff should only be attracted when they have appropriated education.
Functioning of Tourist Organisations will be, in great measure, influenced by the announced changes in tourism law, by which the TOs will no longer be financed by municipal budgets. That fact will put further responsibilities and tasks to the TOs. It is to be expected that a number of TOs will not manage to survive this change in funding.
Further measures stressed on improvement of cooperation among TOs are also needed. Some steps were already made, especially in efforts of connecting the most important manifestations. Forming the Regional Tourist Organisation might be a solution, but it requires further consultations.
Priority 4 IMPROVED VISIBILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY OF TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
In order to develop regional potentials, strong and viable development strategy should be developed.
Measures stressed on signposting of tourist attractions should be undertaken. Basic infrastructure elements should be built in order to increase the accessibility of several attractions.
Privatisation of several tourist attractions will proceed in near future. That will give the necessary impulse for investment. The attractions which are under municipal or state authority have to be taken into more serious consideration, especially the ones with potentials to become competitive advantage of the region, such as Caricin Grad and Vranjska Banja.
Priority 5 PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT (FOR NEW TOURIST CATEGORIES)
Southern Serbia has a lot of potentials for diversifying tourist offer. Ethno tourism, religious tourism, spa tourism are just some of the potential categories that can be interesting both for domestic and foreign market. These activities demand big support from donors and strong cooperation between all stakeholders in the area of tourism. In that sense, solutions could come from promotion of entrepreneurship, support to all activities stressed on the creation of unique tourist products (souvenirs, tourism packages, national food restaurants etc.). Also, support to productive clusters in tourism can be of great help.
CONCRETE MEASURES FOR TOURISM DEVELOPMENT:
Improved image of Southern Serbia as tourist destination
§ Make common tourist offers, logo, brochures and map
§ Create common, regional face on fairs and in the media
§ Create a common, Regional Information Centre
§ Improved contact to the media
§ Improved cooperation between TOs
§ Improved cooperation between TOs and entrepreneurs
Improved education and training of tourism staff
§ Short term education (language courses, local kitchen)
§ Long term education (Economic High School)
§ More practical experience in tourism/service schools
§ Improved knowledge and involvement of municipal staff responsible for tourism
Improved visibility and functionality of Tourist Organisations
§ Improved location, signing and visibility of Tourist Organisations
§ Adjust size of staff to actual need
§ Improved system of tourism tax
§ Investments in new technology
§ Improved cooperation and knowledge sharing between TOs
§ Improved education of staff of Tourist Organisations
§ Improved cooperation between TOs and entrepreneurs
Improved visibility and accessibility of tourist attractions
§ Improved signing of tourist attractions
§ Improved cooperation between TOs
§ Improved regional cooperation between TOs and entrepreneurs
§ Increased municipal investment in regional development of the area of tourism
Product development (for new tourist categories)
§ Develop rural tourism
§ Develop active tourism (hiking, trekking, skiing and biking)
§ Develop cultural and religious tourism
§ Develop spas for tourist purpose
§ Develop the Roman city Caricin Grad
§ Introduce a quality system (functioning of tourist inspection)
§ Attract Foreign Direct Investment
§ Improves regional cooperation between TOs and entrepreneurs