Vrnjačka Banja welcomed this season with the country’s largest water park, a panoramic big wheel and new four- and five-star hotels… Thanks to its rich and varied offer encompassing health, recreational and event tourism, this spa town welcomed record numbers of visitors
Next year will mark the 1,700th anniversary of the start of the use of medicinal spa waters in today’s Vrnjačka Banja, which will be commemorated through all happenings, festivals and the annual carnival, as well as all other events that will be organised, but also through numerous new contents announced in this interview for our magazine by the president of the Municipality.
How are the results with which you are ending the season? Are you satisfied?
– I wouldn’t say that the season in Banja is ending, because for the past several years it has continued throughout all twelve months of the year. However, if we were to conduct a review at this juncture, I would say that results exceeded expectations by far, and we had high expectations, considering the investments made and the rich offer.
We have record breaking months behind us, both in terms of visitor numbers and the occupancy rates of accommodation facilities, but also in terms of the number of events and new tourist attractions and contents. Every record broken motivates us to work with even more intensity and dedication on new projects, some of which are huge, such as the gondola lift that will connect Vrnjačka Banja and Mount Goč.
We are setting new and higher goals, and the successes that we’re recording certainly make us – both me and my colleagues – extremely proud and satisfied. From a tourist resort that lost the race on the tourism market, we have succeeded, over the course of a single decade, in creating a tourist destination with contents that can’t be found in even the most prestigious of tourist centres. We, of course, owe thanks to the government for this success, to President Vučić and to our businesspeople, who have supported us and ensured that we’ve managed to develop continuously.
You’ve succeeded in offering something for everyone?
– Alongside our endeavours to extend the season, we also had the goal of making Vrnjačka Banja equally attractive to all age categories, children, young people, families and businesspeople, as well as the elderly population. And that’s not all! Vrnjačka Banja is the right place for both recreational amateurs and top athletes; a refuge for those wanting to spend their holiday in serenity and tranquillity, but also for those choosing active holidays that include numerous adrenaline sports and activities.
We this year organised numerous cultural and entertainment events for all ages and all generations: the Carnival of Vrnjci, which included performances by the most popular music stars from the country and the region; then the Festival of Classical Music, ZUM Festival, Wine Festival and the Film Screenplay Festival, which represents an event with the longest tradition in Serbia and which this year once again included screenings of the latest film productions and a red carpet parade of the most famous names from the world of Serbian cinematography.
Our goal was to make Vrnjačka Banja equally attractive to children, young people, families and businesspeople, as well as the elderly population
There is also the essential Lovefest music festival, which is intended for young people who love electronic music. With its rich programme – manifested through the staging of concerts, theatre performances, poetry evenings and other interesting and diverse events – our spa has attracted a large number of guests with varying tastes and interests.
Complementing these events are numerous amenities, such as the Zoo, the largest water park and Panoramic Big Wheel in the Balkans, but also the Japanese Garden, Labyrinth Park, adrenaline park, sports halls, football pitches made according to FIFA standards, Sculpture Park, waterfalls, and above all 60 hectares of landscaped parklands at the heart of Banja.
One of the ideas that you’ve spent years working on is for the Spa to continue operating at full capacity even after the summer season, during the autumn and winter months. Is it time for us to stop going to Slovenian and Hungarian spas?
– In order to restore your strength, rest well and relax at wellness centres and spas, it isn’t at all necessary to head to Slovenian or Hungarian spas. It is enough to visit Vrnjačka Banja.
Within the scope of our four- and five-star hotels, guests have at their disposal state-of-the-art wellness and spa centres offering healing mineral water treatments and enabling them to rest and relax, find harmony and restore their vitality and energy. During the winter period, guests often relax at one of our many wellness centres after skiing on Mount Goč. Judging by the number of users of these services, this combination of activities has become an attractive and welcome option for many people.
How much progress has been made on the project, in partnership with the Đoković family, to construct a cable car gondola lift connecting Vrnjačka Banja and Goč?
– Documentation is currently being prepared, while a design concept solution has been selected in the public procurement procedure and construction is expected to begin by the end of the year. This gondola will create a milieu that will enable the construction of new tourist facilities on Mount Goč: an adrenaline park, zip-line, adventure park, new ski lanes, health hiking trails etc.
The gondola lift will enable the construction of new tourist facilities on Mount Goč: an adrenaline park, zip-line, adventure park, new ski lanes, health hiking trails
We will cultivate and landscape the area around Lake Selište, with new walking zones and water-based attractions, such as geysers. Plans also included the building of a mini zoo that will house wild native species, as well as the construction of characteristic mountain tourism settlements with additional facilities: restaurants and wellness centres, without the construction of major hotels and multi-storey buildings.
Judging by the work carried out to date, but also the results and offer, we believe that you are preparing lots of new contents for summer 2024. Could you share a few of the many plans with our readers?
– Vrnjačka Banja will next year commemorate the 1,700th anniversary of the use of its medicinal spa waters. This significant jubilee will mark the spirit of the entire year. We plan to promote this anniversary through all happenings, festivals and the annual carnival, as well as all other events that will be organised in Vrnjačka Banja. Our wish is to present the ancient identity of Vrnjačka Banja to the general public, because we are proud of historical facts dating back to the period of Emperor Constantine, when the use of Vrnjačka Banja’s thermal waters for medicinal purposes first began. Our goal is to better acquaint people with its almost two-millennia-long tradition and familiarise them with the history of our beautiful town.
Next year, after several decades, our guests and visitors will be able to follow in the footsteps of German officers from World War II in the Löhr Tunnel [named after Austrian General Alexander Löhr], which will be ceremoniously opened. There is also a plan to add a roof to the Summer Stage, thus enabling the staging of events regardless of weather conditions, as well as numerous interesting and attractive cultural and tourist activities and projects that we will reveal at the 2024 Belgrade Tourism Fair.
Considering the overwhelming dominance of Vrnjačka Banja compared to other resort towns in Serbia, we want to extend our appeal beyond the country’s borders and convince foreigners that we are keeping pace with highly developed European spa towns and can provide the same quality of service. That’s why we’re continuing to invest in new tourist facilities that will render the entire territory of our municipality equally attractive..