The conference “Check In 2016” will gather on 28 October in Novi Sad – leaders in the hotel industry and tour operators from around the region. The conference will address the latest trends in the hotel industry – digitisation, security challenges and other current topics.
The conference will be opened by Robert Čoban, president of Color Press Group, and Dragana Šabić, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia. In one of the panels – the ambassadors of the countries with rich tourist offer will talk about the problems of this important economic branch in unstable times.
One of them is the Ambassador of India, Narindan Chahuan with whom we have discussed in the conference meet.
Q1. How do you evaluate Serbia’s tourism offer? Traditional spirit in tourism on the one hand, and following world trend in tourism and hospitality industry, on the other?
Serbia is perhaps one of the most peaceful and safest places on Earth. This makes Serbia a natural tourism destination which requires global branding. I understand that the Government of Serbia expects foreign exchange inflow of over Euro 1 billion in 2016 from tourism. Serbia has a diversified structure of attractions and is known for its historical, archaeological, geological, geomorphological, botanical, characteristics. It has a long history, relatively good communications, and an important human potential.
Serbia is located at the heart of the CEE and the emergence of low cost airlines in the Serbian market has opened up new possibilities in the tourism sector. Major European cities are within a distance of 1-2 hours flight which makes it easy for prospective tourists to visit Serbia. Thomas Cook representatives from India had visited Serbia last year to organize group tours from India to Serbia. Air Serbia/Etihad Airways has emerged as an attractive option to service tourists between India and Serbia. Indian film shootings have started in Belgrade and as this trend picks up tourism flow into Serbia will increase. We had also sponsored a video “Yoga from the roof tops of Serbia” to popularize Serbian tourism infrastructure.
Tourism is slated to grow many fold with Serbian Government’s proposed investment in the Danube region, spa infrastructure, roads and mountain resort infrastructure, etc as well as sprucing up the city centers and facades in major cities to make them the best city break destinations.
You have successfully pioneered India’s participation in successive Belgrade International Tourism Fairs for several years already, presenting India as a tourist destination. Are you happy with the results of that campaign?
Belgrade International Tourism Fair is one of the most significant tourist events in Europe and India’s participation is very important to us. Since 2014, we have regularly participated in successive editions of Belgrade International Tourism Fair with different themes. This year the main theme was medical and Ayurveda Tourism. We also organized Ayurveda workshops and free consultations. India is emerging as a destination for medical tourism due to affordable but high quality medical treatment including complicated surgeries. In addition, the Ayurvedic centers are on a rise in India and Indian States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Maharashtra among others, offer state of the art facilities in Ayurveda treatment.
Today India is the favoured destination for year round tourism; for heritage, cultural, spiritual, wildlife, eco-tourism, medical, business, sports tourism, etc. India offers incredible diversity of tourism – cultural rich cities, spiritual places, tropical beaches, heartbreaking Himalayan mountain ranges or wildlife safari. To encourage tourism to India, Government of India has provided e-Tourist Visa (eTV) facility to Serbia which is gaining popularity and 171 Serbian tourists have utilized this facility during the period March-September 2016.
The number of Serbians visiting India has shown year on growth of 17% in 2015. I am happy to see this increase in tourism from Serbia to India. However, there is much more potential and we should make use of this potential for mutual benefit. We are also looking at widening the Air Services Agreement to promote tourism.
What can you tell us about Indian Embassy’s cooperation with tourist organizations and tour operators in Serbia?
Air Serbia/Etihad Airways offers cost effective and perhaps the shortest connectivity between Belgrade and all cities of India through Abu Dhabi. A Tour Operators’ Workshop was organized by me at India House in 2014 in collaboration with Etihad Airways/Air Serbia and Serbian tour operators. Etihad Airways/Air Serbia was also a main sponsor of Manish Arora Fashion Show at India House for Belgrade Fashion Week. The outdoor branding of Incredible India on buses in Belgrade was also successful. Subsequently, Indian travel company Uni Crystal Holidays participated in the 37th International Fair of Tourism in 2015. The Serbian tour agency Fly Travels participated in the Global Exhibition on Tourism (GET India 2015) in April 2015. These efforts resulted in 17% increase in the Serbian visitors to India in 2015. Indian film shootings have started in Belgrade and as this trend picks up tourism flow into Serbia will increase. We had also sponsored a video “Yoga from the roof tops of Serbia” to popularize Serbian tourism infrastructure. I have been focusing on tourism potential apart from other issues in my interactions with the media and at various other platforms and hope to see manifold increase in the tourists from both sides.
The complete conference program and information on registration can be found here www.color.rs/checkin2016