With incentives, we contribute to the higher competitiveness of the Vojvodinian economy
In his interview for our magazine, Nenad Ivanišević, the Vojvodinian Secretary of Economy and Tourism, speaks about several current topics and gives a review of the result accomplished in the last two years.
Secretary Ivanišević on his abundant experience and its use in the Provincial Secretariat for Economy and Tourism’s work
My abundant working experience in the public sector, government institutions, in the Gerontological Centre of Subotica, as a university professor, and now as a member of the Provincial Government, has enabled me to use a wide range of experiences and know-how acquired in many areas of strategic importance for the development of the economy and infrastructure, but I also implement social policies in my work in the Provincial Secretariat for Economy and Tourism. Performing the duties of State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs and in the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, as well as being a special advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, and the results achieved during the above-mentioned mandates had a great influence on my current position. As a provincial secretary, I can contribute a lot, establish, define and create, in line with the competences of the Secretariat’s departments – economy, tourism, employment and electronic communications. Drafting public policies is certainly a very important, but also truly difficult task because you have to keep in mind a handful of indicators that must be incorporated in all aspects of these policies in such a way that everything presented functions as a whole.
Secretariat in the past two years – focus and programme measures
With incentives for the development of business, entrepreneurship, tourism, regional economic events and the employment sector, we contribute to the higher competitiveness of the Vojvodinian economy and all its branches, boosting tourism capacities, improving infrastructure, and facilitating employment and additional work engagement of a large number of people. Visibility, availability, constancy and accessibility are all features of our administration, and our efforts to invest in religious, cultural, multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional, rural and bicycle tourism, as well as in all strategic micro-destinations in Vojvodina, in many ways are changing the comprehensive image of Vojvodina as an economic-tourist region, which makes it a very attractive mini-Europe of sorts.
We have re-launched the Best of Vojvodina product quality mark, which now also applies to the service sector (tourism and catering), as well as to the event sector
In the past two years, the Secretariat for Economy has been focusing on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs. Given that 2020 was a pandemic year and was characterized by anti-COVID measures, most of the economic indicators, especially in tourism, were conditioned by that situation. On the other hand, we tried to develop domestic destinations, as well as other relevant institutions and organizations, so that tourism still generated income from domestic tourists, through internal migration tourism.
Thanks to a budget increase at the very beginning of the mandate and its review in September 2021, when it was increased by over 100 percent, the Secretariat allocated significant funds for the development of entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which are driving force behind the development of both individuals and the community. In 2022, thanks to its support measures, the Secretariat subsidized the costs of purchasing machines, equipment, software, intangible assets, and raw materials, improvement of business activity and market competitiveness, including support for innovative products and processes, the introduction of digitization in business processes, provided support for arts and crafts and female entrepreneurship. Funds were allocated in the form of subsidies, but also refunds.
We have also co-financed the program relating to the development and operation of local social and economic councils, as well as the work and establishment of local tourist boards.
In terms of employment, we are trying to improve it through special competitions, which rules stipulate banning layoffs for a period of six months and employing workers for an indefinite period, in order to save as many jobs as possible.
The competition for arts and old crafts also boosts competitiveness. In addition to well-known events, and there are over 1,800 annually in Vojvodina, old crafts, as well as handicrafts and works of art, are another generator and driving force for tourism, attracting a large number of domestic and foreign tourists who want to spend more in a certain location for the duration of the event.
The Best of Vojvodina project
We have re-launched the Best of Vojvodina product quality mark, which now also applies to the service sector (tourism and catering), as well as to the event sector. This project recognizes and rewards the best product, service and business, while all awarded products meet European product quality standards, namely, they are all HACCP and ISO certified. By awarding this mark, we focus on the domestic economy and production, as well as on the service activities of companies in Vojvodina. In 2021, this designation was awarded to 18 users who are entitled to use the Best of Vojvodina designation in the next three years. They also undergo systematic control to check whether they are fulfilling the required conditions. This year, the Commission is yet to decide who will be given the Best of Vojvodina designation.
Incentives in numbers
In the period from 2016 to 2020, the Provincial Secretariat for Economy and Tourism allocated a total of 1.7 billion dinars worth of over 3,000 individual subsidies. From 2016 to 2021, it allocated a total of 1.1 billion dinars as incentives to 1,700 beneficiaries. In tourism, in the same period, the Secretariat allocated a total of 742 million dinars to 649 business entities and associations through incentive funds, while for the employment sector, got 415 million dinars from the Secretariat, which directly facilitated the employment of about 2,500 people in Vojvodina.
In 2022, 213 million dinars were allocated to businesses, 185 million dinars to tourism, and 50 million dinars for employment purposes, which has resulted in the employment of 180 people in the territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina.
Projects implemented by the Secretariat
The Secretariat has also signed a contract with the Ministry, which provides funding for the drafting of project documentation as part of the project realization process and the implementation of project activities on the former Petrovaradin-Beočin railway corridor. This route, which is about 20 kilometres long, is intended as a special purpose area – more precisely a tourist route known as the green path. There has been a strong interest in transforming the railway into a green path for pedestrians and cyclists.
We implemented a project to renew the existing tourist signage in the wider area of Fruška Gora, on the section of the EuroVelo 6 cycling route in Vojvodina, on the highways E-70, E-75 and along the rivers Danube and Tisza, we completed the documentation for the installation of tourist signage in the areas of Upper Danube and South Banat, and the documentation for the construction of bicycle paths on the European Corridor 6 (Danube route) on the Novi Sad-Belgrade stretch. We are currently drafting the project documentation for the Begeč-Bačka Palanka bicycle path and the Bačko Novo Selo-Bačka Palanka section, as well as for the first-class Novi Sad-Belgrade road, number 100.
I would like to point out that we have recently opened up new topics such as blockchain technology and initiated discussions with the experts and representatives of the business sector.
Furthermore, we have signed a cooperation agreement with the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (Belgrade Business Association) which stipulates mechanisms of cooperation on common visions and goals, to have more effective action on improving the business climate in the AP Vojvodina. We want to organize a presentation on the potential of Italian companies in Vojvodina, and connect our companies with Italian ones.
At the Educational and Training Centre for Professional and Work Skills in Novi Sad, we presented a training module for solar panel installers.
We also presented the first guide for digital nomads in the AP Vojvodina, which we supported
We also presented the first guide for digital nomads in the AP Vojvodina, which we supported. This unique digital and printed edition is published in English and contains all the facts related to the comparative advantages of Vojvodina, as a destination that should attract people who use modern digital and communication technologies to do their job and live a nomadic lifestyle.
Finally, I would like to underline that we supported one of the most globally significant events – the World Final of the CanSat/Rocket Championship, which was held in Vojvodina, in Čenej, from September 25 to 27. The event was organized by the Committee for Space Program Development (CSPD). Additionally, we have defined cooperation parameters with a special focus on the tourism aspect and economic potential. The Championship is run by a Consortium headed by India and Serbia and includes 62 countries, while 15 countries made it to the Championship finals.
What is the current situation in the tourism and economic sector in Vojvodina?
According to the data collated by the Chamber of Commerce of Vojvodina, in the first five months of this year, 89.9 percent more guests came to Vojvodina than in the same period last year, of which 42 percent were foreign guests. The total number of overnight stays went up by about 70 percent. These data show that tourism has managed to recover. We are approaching the figure of half a million overnight stays recorded in the first half of the year, which clearly shows the tendency to exceed the 2019 data. I am especially happy to see that our citizens travelled across Serbia and got to know their country much better. The Secretariat’s investment of over half a million dinars in the past period in boosting tourist capacities in the AP Vojvodina facilitated repeated tourist visits to Vojvodina (a 200% increase in the number of tourists relative to 2021). Current indicators and expert predictions show that 2022 will be much better than 2019, which is taken as a reference year in terms of tourism.
A more serious and uniform approach to the branding of Vojvodina as such and its products, the process of certification and standardization of resources, as well as their media promotion, are our focus and goal, while Vojvodina’s ample diversity has a strong influence on the perception of art and culture.
Two years at the service of beneficiaries
The Provincial Secretariat and I, at its helm, have been working very diligently on the best possible visibility of the activities and programme measures we implement to cover the greatest possible distances and reach as many people as possible, i.e. those who need institutional support, a kind word, public visibility or support in the realization of plans, undertakings and projects.
We have re-launched the Best of Vojvodina product quality mark, which now also applies to the service sector (tourism and catering), as well as to the event sector.
We also presented the first guide for digital nomads in the AP Vojvodina, which we supported.