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Vladimir Živanović, Director of the Zlatibor Tourism Organization

New Tourism Development Horizons

As a mountain centre with outstanding natural conditions, a high-quality offer and diverse contents, Zlatibor has been breaking all records in terms of visitor numbers and overnight stays for years

Serbia’s “golden mountain” proudly bridges the past and the future, preserving that which makes it special. In the search for new development horizons, it remains a faithful guardian of its roots, while simultaneously striding boldly towards the implementation of ambitious projects that the man at the helm of the Zlatibor Tourism Organization tells us about in this interview.

You have just emerged from another outstanding season that saw many records broken. How has Zlatibor become a tourist destination with more than a million overnight stays in a single year?

— Official statistics recorded more than a million overnight stays on Zlatibor during 2023, which represents an absolute record to date and increased the turnover by as much as 40% compared to 2019, which was previously considered as being the best year. According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, Zlatibor became the first tourist destination in Serbia – after Belgrade and Novi Sad – to achieve more than a million overnight stays in a single year. As the crowning glory of the major investments, efforts and dedicated work of the Zlatibor Tourism Organization, the end of 2023 saw the arrival of the prestigious Tourist Flower Award, which the Tourist Organisation of Serbia awards to the best organisations.

Zlatibor entered 2024 with new record results and once again confirmed its status as Serbia’s most popular mountain. The first days of this year were marked by a great time on Zlatibor, with a multitude of activities available to its many tourists. The statistical increase in the turnover testifies to the success of the destination, while the real measure of our success is the satisfaction of all the people who always return with a smile and in pursuit of new memories that last a lifetime. The families who have holidayed on the “golden mountain” for generations, athletes for whom Zlatibor represents an essential destination on their road to success, today’s businesspeople and industry leaders, artists who find inspiration on this mountain etc. – these are the true measure of Zlatibor’s value and continuity.

You said that tourists always return to you with a smile. What entices them so strongly?

— As one of the favourite destinations for visitors of all generations, it offers enjoyment not only in its stunning natural beauty and clean air, but also in many attractions, active holiday options, theme parks, wellness & spa centres, modern flavours and traditional local specialities. Zlatibor has an abundance of accommodation facilities – from the most luxurious five-star hotels to family accommodation in private apartments, guesthouses and rural households.

Zlatibor entered 2024 with new record results and once again confirmed its status as Serbia’s most popular mountain

Alongside all innovations, we never forget that natural riches and attractions represent our priceless treasures. Active holidays are in the focus of interest, alongside the widely renowned Zlatibor locations that are available to tourists year-round, an exceptional gastronomic offer, modern hotels, high-quality private accommodation, as well as 10 organised day trips to nearby sites. Also contributing to the wealth and variety of Zlatibor’s accommodation capacities are the newly opened BOR Hotel by Karisma and Queen of Zlatibor aparthotel & spa.

Despite construction projects, are you nonetheless striving to preserve the special value of all those widely renowned Zlatibor spots?

— Adding great value to the Zlatibor tourist offer is the Stopića Cave, which is the most visited cave in Serbia, the Staro Selo [Old Village] Open-Air Museum in Sirogojno, representing the heart of Zlatibor’s tradition, the Gostilje Waterfall, as a unique gem of nature etc.

There are also the Adventure Park and Dino Park, with many contents for children, the El Paso City theme park and many other Zlatibor attractions that are available to tourists year-round.

Is the gondola lift still Zlatibor’s top attraction?

— Lovers of skiing enjoy the offer of the Tornik Ski Resort, the top attraction is undoubtedly the Gold Gondola, representing the longest panoramic gondola lift in the world, which – with its nine-kilometre-long aerial route – records outstanding visitor numbers that serve to confirm that it has brought a crucial stride forward for Zlatibor tourism. Apart from the aerial ride and “brunch in the air” – serving a light traditional Zlatibor meal in the cable car – tourists are offered a complete experience with numerous activities, both at the intermediate station and at the Tornik peak, where children games in the snow are organised, as well as creative workshops, a tea party at Gondola bar, sampling of Zlatibor specialities, daytime parties etc. The Gold Gondola sets new records month after month and has transported approximately 800,000 passengers since it began operating in January 2021.

Even though guests are extremely satisfied with the existing offer, you and your team are nonetheless planning major new projects…

— It is important for us to enable Zlatibor to keep pace with the latest tourism industry trends through the broadest possible range of development activities. Plans include the building of a sports centre and golf course, as well as the “Tornik Tomorrow: Conceptual Horizons – Golden Pine” project, representing a new route of the panoramic cable car from Tornik peak to Pribojska Banja Spa.

The Gold Gondola sets new records month after month and has transported approximately 800,000 passengers since it began operating in January 2021

Zlatibor will shimmer with new glory in the period ahead, because plans also include numerous other development projects that will advance the tourist offer of Serbia’s most popular mountain, and we will endeavour to present it to the entire world in the way it deserves.

Satisfied guests represent the best advertisement, but is that enough?

— You are correct – our satisfied guests are our best promoters, but we don’t rely solely on that. In this era of digitalisation, internet promotions and modern forms of communication, tourism continues to nurture the living word, and it is precisely because of the need for live contact and exchanges of information that tourism fairs around the world have retained their importance. The Zlatibor Tourism Organization proudly presents the true values of the “golden mountain” both in our country and at tourism fairs around the world. Zlatibor presented the new dimension of mountain holidays for the first time with our independent appearance at the 45th International Tourism Fair in Belgrade, and we will subsequently present our potential and offer at tourism fairs in Banja Luka and Sofia.

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