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Macedonian Tourism Expected to Rise by 10 Percent

Macedonian tourism sector is set to rise by ten percent in 2015, officials say. Expectations are based on intensive promotion of offers, development of cluster associations and cooperation with regional tourism centers.

Travel agencies, hotels and tour operators from Macedonia and the region take part at the 5th International Tourism Fair - Skopje Travel Market 2015, which takes place May 7-10 in Skopje.

Statistics have shown a 7-percent increase of foreign tourists in Macedonia in 2014 compared to the previous year, while the World Tourism Organization sees Macedonia as one of the fastest-growing European countries in the tourism sector.

"The increase is primarily owed to the aggressive media campaign, improvement of promotional materials' quality, more flights to new destinations and charters to Macedonia, low-cost airlines and Government's subsidies. Our activities aim to improve the tourism offer and we expect the positive trend to continue, noting a growth of about ten percent", said Kristijan Dzambazovski, director of the Agency for Tourism Promotion and Support.

He announced the subsidies would continue, while Macedonia's tourism potentials would be promoted in Cologne, Rimini, Paris, London and Tokyo. Macedonia will also host the first regional summit on adventure tourism in May 2016, bringing together some 300 tour operators.

Economy Minister Bekim Neziri said regional states should jointly promote their offers and initiate projects.

"Although a small country, Macedonia has a lot to offer in the field of tourism. The sector has experienced a 40-percent growth over the past eight years. This trend should continue in cooperation with neighboring states and institutions such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)", Neziri told a regional tourism conference held within "Skopje Travel Market".

He said religious tourism is on the rise in global terms.

"Macedonia has centuries-old churches, monasteries, mosques. We can also offer things that other countries can't", added Neziri.

UNIDO representative Adnan Seric said tourism contributes to economic development and lowering of poverty, but not automatically.

"It depends whether tourism opens jobs and generates income. It also relates to the links with other sectors, development of basic infrastructure, as well as additional services beneficial for the entire economy. It also depends on the well-perceived strategies, policies and regulatory framework", said Seric

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