Montenegro Hopes for More Chinese Tourists


News
29 Jun 15

Montenegro Hopes for More Chinese Tourists

After a drastic decline in Russian tourists in 2014, Montenegro is turning to other eastern markets to compensate the loss, with the government hoping for an influx of Chinese holidaymakers.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN

Podgorica

“China has great potential and we expect more tourists and new investments from your country in the coming period,” Montenegrin Tourism Minister Branimir Gvozdenovic told a meeting with a delegation of major Chinese tour operators on Sunday.

Montenegro is trying to attract visitors from other countries after recording a drastic decline in the number of Russian tourists during the 2014 summer season – a drop of more than 30 per cent, according to some estimates.

The drop came amid a worsening of political relations between the two countries after Montenegro joined EU sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, and after the huge fall in the rouble’s value reduced Russians’ spending power abroad.

Montenegro is now trying to offer a more flexible visa regime for Chinese tourists and introduce direct flights to Podgorica from several Chinese cities.

China’s ambassador to Podgorica, Cui Zhiwei, who hosted the tour companies’ visit, offered encouragement to the Montenegrin authorities.

“Based on everything that this delegation has seen and on the experience of other delegations that previously visited your country, I believe that a significantly larger number of tourists and investments from China will come to Montenegro in the coming period,” the ambassador said.

The tour companies’ delegation arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit to chevk on the largest resorts on the coast and the ski centres in the north of the country.

It included tourism representatives from China’s Sichuan Province and its three largest tour operators: Chengdu China Youth Travel Service, Sichuan China Travel Service and Panda Tourism Group.

The government said the Sichuan province has great potential, with a market of 100 million people and millions of outbound tourists.

Over the last six months the Sichuan authorities have been organising charter flights to Moscow from Chengdu, the province’s capital, and they are now willing to do the same for Montenegro, it added.

The Montenegrin Tourist Association meanwhile urged the government on Sunday to introduce a more simple procedure for issuing visas to Chinese citizens – an issue seen as a major obstacle for potential tourists.

The association’s head, Zarko Radulovic, said that it is a very difficult, expensive and time-consuming process for tourists from China to get the necessary documents to visit Montenegro.

“He or she needs to come to the Montenegrin embassy, which means several thousand kilometres of travel from Sichuan to Beijing, to submit a visa request personally. And then to wait at least 50 days and again to come to Beijing to collect the visa. But for the US, they can get visa online in only three days,” Radulovic explained.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)