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Serbia: Tourism Estimated at €450 mn for '06

Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Services Bojan Dimitrijevic estimated this year's direct foreign exchange revenue from tourism in Serbia to reach €450 million, almost reaching the 1990s figure of $500 billion.

Dimitrijevic recalled that foreign exchange revenue from tourism in 2005 was $310 million.

According to Dimitrijevic, in line with the projections from the Strategy for tourism development, it may well be expected that by 2015 the revenue will have reached between $1.7 billion and $2 billion.

He pointed out that in the past two years the budget for promoting Serbian tourism abroad has quadrupled, while the investment budget has increased tenfold, reaching €800 million compared to €77 million two years ago.

Dimitrijevic favourably judged the work of his ministry of the last two years, specifying that five new laws regulating this area were passed and the growth rates of trade and tourism have been raised.

According to Dimitrijevic, the ministry has initiated in the last two years many projects concerning tourism and established successful cooperation with business entities, chambers of commerce, media, local self-governments and representatives of trade and tourist industries.

On future activities, the minister announced the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Competition and the appointment of the council for the protection of competition, planned for March.

He said that in parallel with the implementation of the Law on Protection of Competition, the ministry will work on amending certain parts of the law.

The Law on Consumer Protection was also announced and will enter into force.

Dimitrijevic announced that the ministry in cooperation with CeSID will start a campaign of educating consumers about their rights since familiarity with consumers' rights is essential for implementation of the Law on Consumer Protection.

According to Dimitrijevic, bills on trade, commodity reserves and electronic trade are still on the drawing board.

In cooperation with the Serbian Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Services will draft a law on commodity exchange.

When it comes to activities in the area of tourism, Dimitrijevic said that in line with the widely supported Strategy on tourism development, an agency or directorate for tourism will be formed tasked with facilitating systematic development of tourist destinations with a view to attracting foreign investment and building infrastructure in potential tourist destinations. With regards to the incentives for tourism in 2006, the minister said that beside 300 million dinars in subventions and loans, an additional 500 million dinars will be earmarked for infrastructure development in eight areas.

He added that these figures represent just part of the funds and expressed expectations that investment in infrastructure development will be much higher.

According to Dimitrijevic, in cooperation with the Serbian Ministry of International Economic Relations, a conclusion concerning branding in Serbia is to be reached soon, followed by some sort of public competition for a creative solution.

He added that a public consensus will be needed to identify a final creative solution for "the country brand".

Dimitrijevic recalled that a new consumer price basket is being created, while soon work on the system of satellite bills in tourism is expected to begin, which has been introduced by all surrounding countries.

He expressed the expectation that the implementation of this methodology in Serbia will start as of January 1, 2007.

The minister explained that this project will be realised in cooperation with the Serbian Statistics Office, the National Bank of Serbia and the Serbian Ministry of Finance.

The aim of the project is to create integral bills which would yield complete statistical data on tourism and create a much healthier basis for making satisfactory investment decisions and attracting foreign investment.

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