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David Margason, MFIC Bod Member, Managing Director Of Porto Montenegro

Tourism Will Continue To Prosper

I expect to see a more creative approach of the Government to economic development, with policies linked well, to each other and to land-use planning and foreign investment incentives. We look forward to the greater use of publicprivate partnerships, for delivering funds and also for the execution of projects

One key lesson of the COVID crisis is that Montenegro needs to diversify its economy and not rely so much on tourism. And yet, David Margason, MFIC BoD member and Managing Director of Porto Montenegro, doesn’t see this expected shift as something that will impact negatively on Porto Montenegro’s plans and the country’s prospects of further developing tourism.

“I believe that Montenegro’s natural charm and beauty, its location, and the alignment of the Montenegro experience with the desires and attitudes of a post-pandemic world, all mean that tourism here will continue to grow,” says Margason.

Our interlocutor sees the privatisation of, and investment in, Tivat airport as an opportunity to free up government funds that currently support its operations for other non-tourism growth. At the same time, development of the airport may well deliver growth in both leisure tourism and business visits funded by the private sector.

“At Porto Montenegro, we started to diversify four to five years ago, as a key aspect of our strategy that comprises our main pillars of Living, Leisure, Work and Education, under the banners of: Live Less Ordinary, Play Less Ordinary, Work Less ordinary, Learn Less Ordinary,” explains Margason.

Over the past three years, Porto Montenegro has reinforced its International School, developed three office facilities for leasing, acquired the Bijela Shipyard and moved to attract business conferencing and other non-leisure tourism. “These all form part of our strategy to become a holistic waterfront community, rather than solely a leisure tourism destination,” says our interlocutor.

It was inspiring to see how employees came together during times of hardship, and how private business moved to support the government with joint fundraising and donations when the needs outweighed their means

To what extent did the Government succeed in supporting the tourism sector during the most difficult moments of the COVID crisis?

– The pandemic severely tested the ability of every government to support their economy through such a major crisis. I believe that, on the whole, the Montenegrin authorities managed both the health risk and the economic impact as well as, or better than, could be expected. The strong bounce-back in 2021 has been the reward for the economy having remained generally intact through the preceding year. I think that we fell behind other countries nearby, like Croatia, by not opening the lowrisk marine leisure sector sooner, but we maintained travel by private aviation, which helped the luxury destinations on the coast, if not the wider economy, to regain momentum.

It was inspiring to see how employees came together during times of hardship, and how private business moved to support the government with joint fundraising and donations when the needs outweighed their means.

I would say that the sense of togetherness is something we can harness in the future, and not just in times of crisis.

What moves do you expect of the Government of Montenegro in 2022, in light of the recommendations contained in the MFIC White book?

– I expect to see a more creative approach to economic development, with policies linked well, to each other and to land-use planning and foreign investment incentives. Given the importance of strategic investment in infrastructure and services, we should see greater use of public-private partnerships, for delivering funds and also for the execution of projects.

The other area where progress is essential relates to regulations and processes, and there we should expect improved transparency and a levelling of playing fields.

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