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Vojvodina Tourism, a new opportunity for Serbia’s image

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Vojvodina Tourism, a new opportunity for Serbia’s image

The Wealth of Diversity project currently being implemented in Vojvodina, presented at the WTM tourism fair in London, has provoked great interest not only among tour operators but among branding professionals too.

It is important to explain the specific characteristics of Vojvodina – its history and the impact this history has today, the fact that Vojvodina was on the border between Europe and the Ottoman empire and the latter's ambitions to conquer Europe and the fact of the construction of a canal in Vojvodina to drain the swampland (Vojvodina had been 80% covered with water) which made it possible for people to settle here. It was this process of planned settlement of people from all over Europe that gave rise to a rich multiculturality, multilingualism and multiconfessionality, and in turn autonomy within Serbia after the First World War. When all this is understood, the story of Vojvodina and of everything that tourists can see and experience here takes on a whole new dimension as compared to the way in which the province has hitherto been promoted as a tourist destination. 

The tours on offer – where tourists visit different villages every day and get to know the culture, food and music of the Serbs (from all parts of the Balkans, both recent arrivals and long-time settlers), Hungarians, Slovaks, Romanians, Croats, Bunjevci, Šokci, Roma, Szekely Hungarians, Orthodox and Catholic Bulgarians, Macedonians, Slovenes and the other peoples living in Vojvodina – provoked great interest, and not just among tour operators. One university lecturer, a branding expert, believes that the tourist industry of Vojvodina, presented in this way, could change the image of the entire country. Indeed, she plans to set her students a case study with the task of devising a campaign to change the image of Serbia based on this idea.

Talking to Biljana Marčeta, manager of the Istar 21 Danube Tourism Cluster and creator of this project, she suggested that the message Vojvodina ought to send to tourists wanting to visit Serbia should be that they haven’t seen Serbia if they haven’t visited Vojvodina. In discussion with tour operators there was also much talk of the importance of government policy as relates to the responsible and sustainable development of a model of tourism by which not only tourists and the tourist industry benefit, but also the local community. It was clearly emphasised that the tourism industry is looking for innovation and that the awareness of tourists has very much changed in the last 15 years. Now travellers themselves are looking for destinations that are not given over to mass tourism, where they can meet people, buy their products and have the feeling that their visit has helped the community survive. Having said that, tourists also demand world-class service, and that is an area where there is much work still to be done.

Video presented in London

Printed materials presented in London

Puzzle programsWealth of Diversity

Wine roads of VojvodinaMulticultural your of Vojvodina

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Zdenka Mitić – representative of the Podunav NGO from Bački Monoštor, one of the 14 chosen villages in the Wealth of Diversity project – was met by some good news during this fair. Namely, Podunav, with its “Landscapes of Bački Monoštor” project, was Serbia’s nomination for the European Landscape Award, presented by the European Commission every two years. The Council of Ministers had special praise for the NGO for this project. A certificate confirming the award will be delivered to the Ministry of the Environment via Serbia’s Permanent Mission, as well as to others whose efforts contributed to the promotion of the activities of this NGO in protecting the environment and the tradition of the Šokci people who live in this village, and to the recognition of the importance of the role of this area for sustainable development in Serbia.

The efforts to develop rural tourism in this village and to increase awareness of the importance of protecting the environment and nature of the Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve were begun some ten years ago thanks to the initiative of the local authorities and international environmental protection experts who discovered this region at that time and called it the European Amazon.  

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