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Domestic destinations holiday vouchers are a lifeline for tourism

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Tourism in Srpska is suffering enormous damage due to the pandemic of the coronavirus, and the only salvation for this industry is that the RS government allocates five million marks to subsidize citizens’ travel to domestic destinations.

Such a proposal was sent by the Tourist Organization of Srpska to the RS Ministry of Trade and Tourism. According to unofficial information, this proposal is well received by the Srpska Government and is well on the way to getting the green light.

– The biggest loss due to the pandemic has suffered, but tourism and transport continue to suffer because people do not travel. The voucher system could save domestic tourism, which would be intended exclusively for travel around the Republic of Srpska, said Nada Jovanović, director of the RS Tourism Organization

She explained that this process would work by allocating money to the Republic of Srpska government for vouchers to spend on holidays in Srpska, which was introduced by some countries, including Serbia.

– For example, we calculated that a seven-day stay of a five-member family at a domestic destination in a three-star hotel would cost a minimum of 1,200 KM. This vacation would be cheaper by 300 KM with the help of a voucher. This would help those traveling, but also hoteliers, restaurateurs and ultimately the entire tourism industry – said Jovanović.

According to the Tourism Organization, the RS government should allocate five million marks to subsidize travel across Srpska. The figure was obtained on the basis of a visit of RS residents to domestic destinations and the number of hotels and private accommodation.

– That voucher system would be absolutely visible and verifiable. They would do all this through travel agencies, which would be responsible for bringing home guests to hotels. They would go for 10 percent of the subsidy, the rest to hoteliers, and eventually, citizens would get cheaper travel. Also, some hoteliers have stated that they are ready to reduce the prices of services by about 30 percent. In this way, everyone would have jobs in the tourism sector and would eventually get this branch of the economy back on its feet – said Jovanović.

She stressed that after all people would be eager to travel.

– And how they wished they went somewhere, and we have so many magical places to visit. Srpska is beautiful and we have something to offer – said Jovanović.

All local tourism organizations across Srpska are involved in finding solutions to save tourism, and Jovanovic points out that eventually the line ministry will decide what measures are needed.

– The pandemic has caused 100% damage to tourism so far, as all hotels and restaurants are closed. That’s one big chain. It also houses souvenir makers. All domestic fairs where domestic products are sold are also canceled – Jovanović said.

The Association of Trade, Tourism and Hospitality at the Chamber of Commerce of RS also sees the savings for tourism in vouchers for travel to domestic destinations. They submitted the same proposal to the RS Ministry of Trade and Tourism and hope that they will have an opinion from the Government soon.

– We should certainly look at Serbia when it comes to the measures it has taken to save tourism. The campaign we launched called “Ours is Better” is not only about buying local products, but also staying at home destinations. We have many tourist potentials and natural beauties to visit. After the crisis, people should spend their vacation in destinations in Srpska – said the secretary of the Association of Trade, Tourism and Hospitality, Dragana Šobot, adding that tourism, as a branch of the economy, will be the last to recover from the crisis because people will only start traveling once the last suspicion about possible infection.

Nada Jovanović said that tourism in Srpska flourished in the first two months of this year, as the number of arrivals increased by 9.4 percent and the number of overnight stays by 14.7 percent over the same period last year.

“It’s been quiet since mid-March. Visits for March, April, May have been canceled, and the same goes for June. Because of this, we immediately refocused on online campaigns and additional promotion of domestic tourism. We also joined the World Tourism Organization action under the slogan “Let’s save tourism together” and launched the campaign “Stay at home, postpone the trip, we will travel tomorrow but in our own country”. We also run sweepstakes where the main prize is a stay at one of the domestic tourist destinations – said Jovanović.

 

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