The last European country to detect a case of coronavirus and the first to declare themselves free: the tiny Montenegro intends to play the card of health security to encourage tourists to come back on its spectacular shores.
In the seaside resorts that line the coasts of adriatic to the small country in the Balkans, the hotel employees to rake in weeks of beaches abandoned visitors that pressure would be on normally at this end of the spring.
But the hope comes back since the authorities have declared that Montenegro, as no new contamination of domestic has not been recorded since the 5th of may, there were no cases of assets of the coronavirus.
“Let me remove my mask”, launched triumphantly on Monday, the Prime minister Dusko Markovic, announcing the good news to a country where tourism represents one-fifth of GDP and employment. “Since today, Montenegro is special because of its results in its fight against an enemy unseen and unknown.”
The tour operators have jumped on the deal, broadcasting images of azure waters and sumptuous mountain landscapes stamped with “the first destination of Europe without corona”.
“Security, this is what people are looking for the more”, told AFP Ana Nives Radovic, director of the tourism association of Kotor.
This medieval city classified at the Unesco world heritage list, major destination for cruise ship passengers, boasts, moreover, to have never identified cases of coronavirus. Since its first contamination here ten weeks, the country of 630 000 inhabitants has detected just over 300 infections and nine deaths.
Package on hygiene
“People want a destination where they can feel safe, be confident that nothing bad will happen to them,” says Ms. Radovic.
Natasa Spiric-Smiljanic, director of two hotels overlooking the beautiful bays, confirms put the package on hygiene measures already stringent before the crisis, to try to make it back to the customer French flow of ordinary.
“We are ready level of hygiene, it has put in place the new standards and it has the space that it is necessary” for social distancing, ” she told AFP, adding however, “not much hope that the attendance explodes”.
Because the recovery looks complicated, while the world tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicted a collapse of 60% to 80% of the number of international tourists.
The conditions of the reopening of the borders in a Europe that is déconfine remain unclear, as were those of the recovery in air traffic.
The number of tourists expected in Montenegro is expected to be much lower than the 2.6 million who came in 2019 — more than four times the population.
Especially as, in a first time, Montenegro will open only to tourists from countries considered safe, or those who were less than 25 infections per 100 000 inhabitants.
If the Croats, Austrians or Greeks are in the nails, the British and the Russians, the wholesale markets for the local tourism industry, should not quickly return.
Croatia, the other destination being “safe”
“I’m fairly certain that our first customers will be very regional, Montenegro, countries of the former Yugoslavia, Albania,” says Kai Dieckmann, the director of the luxurious Regent Porto Montenegro. “This summer will be very different from last summer.”
The “neighbors” had represented that a third of the tourists.
In the north, in Croatia, the professionals also rely on the proximity of the traditional markets — Germany, Slovenia, Austria and the Czech Republic– to save the furniture.
Some want to play the health card, while Croatia has identified less than 2 500 contamination and a hundred dead. “It is necessary to boast about Croatia as a safe destination”, says Sanja Cizmar, consultant in tourism.
But in the meantime, in Dubrovnik, the other pearl of the Adriatic, which served as the backdrop to the series Game of Thrones, the silence has replaced the bustle that comes normally to many bars and restaurants.
Such scenes have not been seen since the 1990s, and the war of independence.
“We don’t expect anything. If something happens, it will be a gift”, told AFP Nikolina Lovric, 34 years of age. With one exception, all of the reservations for its two parts are volatilisées.