Montenegro lures tourists to the ‘corona-free’ corner of Europe

Montenegro lures tourists to the ‘corona-free’ corner of Europe

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KOTOR, Montenegro: Less than two months after detecting its first infection, Montenegro is the first country in Europe to declare itself coronovirus-free, a success story the small country hopes to achieve in this In summer, its dazzling Adriatic coast will attract tourists.
Hotel staff have been riding empty beaches for weeks as the epidemic keeps visitors away who normally arrive by plane, cruise ship, and car at this time of year.
But ultimately, there is a light of hope after Montenegro declares that it is not an active case of Kovid-19.
Tourism operators have already seized the opportunity to brand Montenegro as “Europe’s first Kovid-19 free country”, promoting its stunning natural beauty in the video, with beaches in the south and rugged mountains in the north with.
In picturesque Kotor, a medieval walled city nestled in a hill-ringed bay, locals have completely spared the virus, with no known cases.
While tour agencies are still expecting a difficult season, it is expected that this sterling health record will strike a blow to an industry that accounts for a fifth of GDP and over 19 percent of the workforce.
“Safety is something most people look for,” said Ana Niev Radović, director of the local tourism organization in Kotor.
“They are now looking for a destination where people feel safe, respect certain rules and where they can be assured that (the hosts) will not let anything bad happen to them,” he said.
The size of Montenegro has certainly been helpful in fighting the virus: the country is one of the smallest in the world, with about 630,000 people.
In the last 10 weeks it has recorded around 300 infections and nine deaths from Kovid-19.
Since May 5, there have been no new domestic cases.
Prime Minister Duso Markovich said on Monday after the health officials announced that all active cases had been approved.
The border will now open in early June, officially closing the holiday season.
But less than 2.6 million arrivals recorded last year will still fall, with tourism business also projected to fall by up to 70 percent.
To prevent any backsliding on the health front, Montenegro will only allow visitors from countries that have reduced coronovirus cases to less than 25 patients per 100,000 people.
This means travelers from top markets like Britain and Russia are unlikely to make it this summer, a blow to luxury destinations such as Porto Montenegro.
While tourists from the area made up a third of visitors last year, they are expected to be the main customers this summer.
“It will look very different from summer than it did last year, with its pristine pools, lawns and beach front lying vacant for weeks,” said Kai Diekmann, general manager of the Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel.
He said new hygiene measures would be in place, such as “QR menus” at restaurants that allow patrons to read menus on smartphones instead of touching physical copies.
“To accomplish whatever is going to happen, we have to provide additional services,” he said.
Over the coast, tourism powerhouse Croatia is also hoping to capitalize on its relatively low virus numbers to ease the 2020 season.
In the Adriatic nation of 4.2 million, around 100 deaths occurred and infections occurred on more than 2,000.
Southern European competitors such as Spain and Italy hit several travel lists due to a battle with the virus, with Croatia in a position to take part.
“The number of people traveling will decrease, but the number of European tourist destinations will be smaller than in Europe’s ‘normal’ year,” said Krunoslav Kapetanovic, a hotel in the northern coastal resort of Opatija.
Others hope that socially distorted options such as boating holidays, camping, private accommodation and road trips will be an attraction for travelers from nearby central European markets.
Some 150,000 foreigners, mainly neighboring Slovenian, who own their apartments on the coast, have already landed in Croatia since the ban was relaxed in early May.
Any visitor will be welcomed in a country where officials predict a 70 percent drop in tourism revenue.
Dubrovnik’s walled city, made even more famous by its use as a location for the television series “Game of Thrones”, is expected to be particularly difficult with aircraft and cruise travel curbs.
Locals say the city’s cobra lanes have not been so empty since the 1990s war, when its buildings were badly damaged.
All reservations for Nikolina Lovaric’s two-bedroom apartment have been canceled.
The 34-year-old AFP said, “We have no hope. It would be a gift if something happened.”


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