This year, as far as tourist announcements are concerned, is promising and if there are no global or internal earthquakes, we will have a good season, said the president of the Montenegrin Tourist Association (CTU) and co-owner of the hotel company Montenegro Stars, Žarko Radulović.
He added that there would be more of them if there were enough airlines, writes Pobjeda.
Radulović said that due to the lack of airlines, millions are being lost, and that the state needs to correct the mistakes of its predecessors – strengthen Air Montenegro or attract a private airline.
– All of this would be even better if we had a national airline. Actually, we officially have it, but not essentially. To be clear, nobody has anything against Air Montenegro, on the contrary, we want it to succeed. I guess it is clear that their success is our success, because we experienced it very well with Montenegro Airlines and we know very well how much a strong airline means to the economy. We had a season of 250 to 260 days, and now we have dropped to 140 to 150 – Radulović told Pobjeda.
He stated that the one who, by canceling Montenegro Airlines, canceled 500 or 600,000 passengers, as many as he brought in the last year before the corona, did immeasurable damage.
– So that it doesn’t happen again, we should always keep that example in mind as a reminder of how easy it is to destroy something, and how difficult it is to create something. And to exclude political calculations in business. Above all, responsible management of citizens’ money is not a political whim, but an obligation to account to citizens, and they will have to account, especially for this period when we have sunk deeply – Radulović said.
He believes that the state should correct the mistakes of its predecessors and strengthen Air Montenegro or attract a private airline.
– As far as I know, several of them are looking for a new hub that they lost due to the war in Ukraine. If that is not possible, you should turn to low costers. See the example of the airport in Skopje. After the arrival of Wizz Air, for which Skopje is now the home airport, it has become a mental noun for us at this moment. We need knowledge, creation, above all the awareness of decision makers that for Montenegro air connectivity is everything – announced Radulović.
When asked whether it is good to give the airports a concession, so that passengers can have a better service, he replied that he does not have a detailed insight into the situation, but that he thinks it is good that the airports remain in state ownership or that some credible partner is found management will be entrusted, and the state will retain ownership.
– This means that we manage them in accordance with the needs of the destination, that we are in a position to react to changes in the market by giving privileges to companies, that we work out the airlines that are the most profitable for us, and follow our own interests. It is true, concessions mean an increase in the number of passengers, an improvement in the quality of service, but they also imply that the concessionaire’s primary interest is his business, not the interest of the state – explained Radulović.
He added that it would be most optimal if the state could find the strength to retain ownership, entrust the management to professionals whose expertise is measured by achieved results, not by party advancement, and that from those airports, with the help of the state, credit debt – which would not be so hard to return, expand capacity and improve airport service.
Radulović said that airports that work 24 hours a day are needed.
– It is a fact that low costers fly the most at night, because their transportation is the cheapest, and their earnings are the cleanest, since most of the transportation is done during the day. The period from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. is the period when airlines make extra profit and try to fly to Montenegro-type airports and similar tourist destinations during those hours. For example, Dubrovnik, the closest to us, has more traffic at night than during the day, and every airport of that type, not to mention Antalya. So Tivat and Podgorica should be equipped for 24-hour flights – said Radulović.
He stated that for this, larger runways and accompanying infrastructure are needed to support that frequency of traffic, starting from the parking lot to the interchanges.
– It’s for nothing that every 30 kilometers along the coast there are beautiful tourist spots, if the flight from London to Tivat takes less time than the drive from Tivat to Budva – said Radulović.
When it comes to the visit, he announced that the first tourists arrived on January 1 and that the season has started.
– I can say, at least based on the results of my company, and it is similar for others who work in this period, this year’s January was the best in terms of financial results in the last 20 years. So, the phenomenon from last year that the season lasted from December 31 continues this year as well – said Radulović.
He added that, If another global earthquake does not happen, it can be expected with optimism that it will be a good season.
– Why is it so? There are several factors. One of the main ones is that the post-pandemic effect has worked. This is visible in the structure of the guests, because people are coming who have never come before – said Radulović.
When asked what stage of construction Montis Hotel is in, he replied that it is about 65% built and that it is being built according to the planned dynamics.
– It is a well thought out project and I am sure that the hotel will be technologically perfect, functionally rounded. Will it be Splendid in the North? He will for sure. Everything that we have established, developed and perfected here in the previous 15 years as best practices – we will apply – said Radulović.
When it comes to extending the season, he said that it is always an inspiring question.
– In Montenegro, there are two so-called peak season experiences. The lay public, but unfortunately also individuals from this business, appreciate the season through July and August according to the principle: if it’s not a total collapse and you can’t get to Budva in an hour and a half, it’s a successful season. It is exactly the opposite, because such crowds and such a concentration of tourists in such a small area mean that we are all at a loss. Especially since we don’t have the supporting infrastructure that can support it – announced Radulović.
He believes that the season was successful if it was extended from March to October or December 31, and that as long as July and August look like a flood after months of drought – it is not good.
– It is best when there is balance. We should aim for the season to last from March to November or December. This post-pandemic trigger won’t last forever. This year and maybe next year we will return to the familiar rhythm, but for that to happen we need air connectivity – said Radulović.