The First Serbian Tourism and Business Forum – Belgrade, November 24-26, 2011
The First Serbian Tourism and Business Forum took place in Belgrade from November 24-26, 2011. The Forum was organised by the National Corporation for Tourism Development in Serbia and the Joint UN Programme "Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development," which is funded by the Spanish Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDGF), and with the support of the Serbian government and the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development. The UN joint programme was launched in December 2009, with the government of the Republic of Serbia national partners: Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management, and National Tourism Organization of Serbia.
The aim of this three-day event, which gathered a large number of experts, consultants and managers from the UK, USA, Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Russia and Italy, was to explore possibilities of investing in new tourist markets and to emphasize how attractive and competitive are tourist destination in Serbia.
During the opening ceremony of the forum, State Secretary for Tourism at the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, Mr. Goran Petkovic, said that the First Serbian Tourism and Business Forum had undergone a several-year preparation through the process of adopting relevant laws and regulations, improving tourism infrastructure and representing Serbian tourism abroad. He noted that one of the reasons to organize the event was a permanent increase in the number of foreign tourists coming to the country, as over the last five years the total number of foreign tourists visiting Serbia has increased by 45 percent, while the foreign currency income from tourism saw a 28 percent five-year growth.
The UN Resident Co-ordinator in Serbia, Mr. William S. Infante, said that Serbia had traditional and cultural values that could enrich the country's tourism offer and contribute to the development of the industry, adding that the opportunity should be used to the fullest extent possible. He emphasised that the main objective of this three-day event is to attract foreign and domestic investments that will capitalize on tourism potential and intrinsic natural beauty, rich culture and traditions of Serbia, and serve as a platform for establishing networks among key stakeholders, a prerequisite for future Serbian and regional destination development.
“The Forum will position the SEE region on the global tourism map as a new and unexplored tourism destination that values environmental protection, with an aim to increase tourism and to harness its value for the benefit of sustainable development, contributing economic growth”, said Infante.
The speakers particularly highlighted the importance of rural tourism, saying that it should become a priority for investment in Serbia.
The forum's panels, that started on Friday, 25 November 2011, hosted over 170 participants.