Montenegro has hailed British travel agents as “extremely important” as the destination adapts to the impact of the war in Ukraine.
Visitors from Russia and Ukraine accounted for around a quarter of visitors before the conflict began in February 2022, but now Montenegro is trying to grow its appeal in other European markets.
Ana Tripković Marković (pictured), the director of the National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro, said UK visitors represent around 3-4% of visitors, but she hopes that proportion will grow following the addition of new flights.
Tripković Marković said: “We think the potential is huge because we’re a very short flight away and we have a really good climate.”
The country, which hosted Travel Weekly’s Cover Stars trip this year in association with Jet2holidays, is served by Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air in addition to Jet2.com.
Toasting the successful Cover Stars trip, which treated 12 frontline agents to a VIP experience, Tripković Marković said feedback has been positive.
She said: “We’re very proud that all the participants were very satisfied about what they experienced.
“We really feel it’s important to come to Montenegro and if anyone wants to visit, we’re willing to host.”
Jet2 flights from Manchester to Tivat started in the summer, with flights from Birmingham to begin in May.
Tripković Markovic said UK visitor numbers in the first seven months of this year were around 30% up on the same period of last year and around 10% higher than in 2019, when the record was achieved.
“UK travel agents are extremely important,” said Tripković Markovic. “We have very good numbers from the UK market.”
British travellers are among those helping to plug the gap left by the absence of Russian and Ukrainian visitors, according to Tripković Markovic.
She said: “The war in Ukraine hit us severely since these markets [Russia and Ukraine] represented a huge share, but we managed to compensate this in 2023 by diversifying our offer and the UK is one of the markets that helped us.”
Montenegro offers a wide variety of attractions, including beaches, Tripković Markovic said, meaning it appeals to a range of travellers.
Among the highlights she picked out were the biggest freshwater lake in the Balkans – Lake Skadar – and Europe’s largest vineyard, Plantaže Winery.
The country wants to become known as a year-round destination, Tripković Markovic said.
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