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Zafiris Lampadaridis, President Of The FIC Tourism & Hospitality Committee (Hyatt Regency Belgrade (BMP a.d.))

Tourism Development Must Be Accelerated

The establishment of the FIC Tourism & Hospitality Committee comes at a critical juncture for rethinking the governance of tourism and elevating tourism’s visibility. It is essential to increase the sector’s resilience to shocks and raise broader awareness of its importance

The past two years have shown how important tourism is as an economic branch, both globally and in Serbia. COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, dealing a hard blow to the tourism and hospitality sector. Fortunately, the results from 2022 indicate that the future outlook is positive and that our sector is again showing its resilience and ability to bounce back.

While government support has been instrumental throughout the crisis, swift recovery will only be possible if the private and public sectors work together and provide clear and consistent rules. In this sense, raising tourism’s visibility beyond the sector is extremely important, helping to position it as an essential pillar of national economic growth and development. The establishment of the FIC Tourism & Hospitality Committee comes at a moment when it is crucial to rethink tourism governance and elevate tourism’s visibility. Increasing the sector’s resilience to shocks is necessary, as is raising broader awareness of its importance.

On that journey, it is essential to secure more flexibility to accommodate the seasonality needs of the industry; to enhance mechanisms for avoiding the grey economy; to improve cost streamlining in line with the main regional competitors, and to improve the investment environment. Furthermore, the FIC’s T&H Committee will be a responsible and reliable partner to the Government and domestic and international institutions and organisations in creating such a business environment that will enable the further competitiveness of Serbian tourism.

Serbia, especially Belgrade, has become an appealing investment destination, attracting major players in the international hotel industry

What is the current status of investments in tourism? According to the WTTC, global capital investment in tourism & hospitality fell by 30% in 2020. The decline in investments continued in 2021. Fortunately, this drop did not follow a decrease in the number of visitors. Tourism and hospitality investment projects are subject to careful and long planning, because they are huge investments in most cases. The g

od news about the recovery of tourism in 2022 positively influenced the continuation of capital investments worldwide. The extent to which rising inflation and the energy crisis will impact further investment activity remains to be seen. In the meantime, Serbia should further develop an efficient, transparent and predictable tourism investment framework to improve its competitiveness in the long run. Serbia, especially Belgrade, has become an appealing investment destination, attracting major players in the international hotel industry. In the last two years, in Belgrade alone, 15 new hotels of different categories and capacities have opened. Some 5-star luxury brands are in the pipeline and planning to build in the coming period. Besides this, several locally-owned hotels are under construction. Although that is very encouraging and promising, the pace must be accelerated. It is essential to improve the regulatory framework and to understand key trends, priorities, and related opportunities to unlock the full growth potential of Serbia’s tourism & hospitality sector in the years to come.

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