31 July 2019 - The following article represents the personal perspective of author Gunther Fehrlinger on the 12 concrete recommendations for European Montenegro and the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Total Montenegro News.
This article is the 3rd in series to contribute to better tourism and economic development by Austrian and European best practices in transport and tourism planning and pricing. For more information about the economic part, read Strategy for European Boka 2020 and for transport and mobility issues, read Smart Mobility Strategy RecommendationsRecommendations from 2018, still fully to be implemented.
This article from July 2019 discusses concrete experiences and builds simple, small budget recommendations on how to improve the 2020 tourism season. The Austrian author lives has lived in Morinj Montenegro every summer since 2006 and is an economic consultant for European transition economies.
- Meet the Montenegro border and customs!
Entering Montenegro from Bosnia, the welcome is a one hour waiting at the smallest border crossing and a warm welcome by a rough, unfriendly Montenegro border policeman working slowly and asking in bad English what I want in Montenegro. Well, a good question – most Europeans in the summertime in a car with children come for tourism, not for arms, drugs nor car smuggling! A kind smile and welcome to Montenegro would be just fine. But well maybe smiling is not part of the job description for the border police in Balkans.
- Have a green card or driving a stolen car?
Car smuggling is a good topic, must be common in the EU in 2019 as the border police ask for car papers and a green card for each car. Most cars coming from northern Montenegro are from the EU or Bosnia or Serbia - where else they should come from? I actually happened to come from Kyiv, Ukraine by car and it is the first time I was checked for papers and green cards since entering the EU at the Polish -Ukrainian border. Nobody asked me when I left Schengen in Slovenia – Croatian border nor when I entered Bosnia but when entering Montenegro, I am checked and registered and this takes time. Arriving at the border at the new small border checkpoint I chose because I had the pleasure of waiting many hours at the other bigger checkpoints to Croatia and Bosnia many times before, so I decided for this one close to Foča in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Well done, I thought when there were only 7 cars and I consider myself smart and lucky and after one hour I passed with just 7 cars in line and I doubted my choice. Sure, we must have control and simply waving summer tourists through like inside EU might not be possible, but really, is it necessary to register every car and check the green card? We in the EU have the administrative capacities to ensure that all cars are insured and in fact they are and who comes in the EU we anyhow check at our EU land border to Ukraine & Belarus and where shall the cars come from if not from the EU, Bosnia or Serbia when entering the northern checkpoints of Montenegro? And if you do not trust Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia cars for green cards well OK check them but EU registered cars? And are there so many stolen cars you find with these checks?
- End this nonsense asking for car papers and green cards!
Why not scrap these useless annoying asking for car papers and insurance have much faster border process and invest a bit more in EU standards road safety measures? One simple measure and everybody is happier to come back a second time in amazing and magic Montenegro with great people and amazing landscape but quite backward procedures introduced after the Balkan Wars when smuggling to main business in southern Balkans but are they really justified today? No. So, one simple order from Ministry of Interior to stop asking EU registered cars at the northern border check with Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the summer season for car papers and green cards and well Montenegro has many more happy EU tourists. Or stop that unnecessary procedure fully for all – we are in 2019 not in 1999.
- Transit trucks in tourist coastal area during peak season?
Better border management during season includes to interdict transit during the season at the coastal border crossing and forcing them inland. Simple inform all logistic companies that no truck above 3,5 t will be allowed to cross from Croatia to Montenegro and such trucks are allowed in July and August only the main Bosnia and Herzegovina Montenegro border crossing close to Nikšić. Assign the customs official to that border crossing and simple stop transit above 3,5 t during the 2 crucial months for the Bay of Kotor relevant border crossings. Inform the transport industry now and assign some more customs officials to the main border crossing at the M6 close to Vilusi.
- Allow only delivery trucks with coastal destination or origin to use the Adriatic Highway during the season.
And constant traffic jams at the Adriatic Highway will be much better between Herceg Novi and Ulcinj in July and August only truck for delivery target costly supply chain and the rest inland on Nikšić – Podgorica – Shkoder and next year to the new highway north if transit is for Kosovo and beyond. And yes, to the Adriatic Highway but this I have discussed so often elsewhere, and here only about the small items with big effect – but still yes you need a big inland motorway connecting Croatia with Albania along with your main population centres of Nikšić and Podgorica. Why build the Northern Highway to nowhere first is beyond understanding, but anyhow, good, it is ready, but now for the real part the Adriatic Highway.
- More landing spots for the Ferry on each side and re-locate the Port Master House
The border and transit lead to the ferry over the Boka, the most famous bottleneck of the past has a lot of its terror since now 6 ferries are in operation and transport is swift and waiting times still considerable but no longer painful. Now the real bottleneck is the lack of landing spots for the ferries. Each side in Kamenari and Lepentane has only 3 and so the ferries have to wait in the straits until on and off loading allows for the next ferry to land. On Lepentane side there is ample space for the 4th landing spot on the Tivat side of the village and why not ask the operator to do it or share the costs with the Government as part of the concession? On the Kamenari Herceg Novi side, there is space but the obstacle is the Old Port Master house in stone blocking the space. While it may cost a bit to simple expropriate it the costs of simple re-locating it and rebuilding the house 300 m towards the Herceg Novi side on the seaside next to the Old Stone House ensemble seems reasonable compared to the traffic obstacle it poses for public safety and welfare. There is a great beach zone close to the Port now looking to Tivat and now a bit in shadow of the ferry port there are two old stone houses and a perfect spot for a small Marina for sport boats and why not re-locate the Old Port Master House there and make a nice small protected marina for small boats there on the Herceg Novi side of the Ferry Port and so upgrade the whole Verige Bay with a working nice Marina for small boats left of Kamenari and a 4th landing spot for the ferry and straighten out the street which in the most important obstacle for the bottleneck of the ferry port?
- Learn from the Austrian Alpine Village forbidding transit traffic in summer
And there to build a checkpoint and stop all transit trucks and force them on the ferry if they still made it through the border. And to ask and force all major vehicle without final destination inner Boka Bay onto the Ferry. We do the same in many Alpine villages to forbid transit in a village when there is a highway and the same principle applies to Ferry and UNESCO Inner Bay. Only source and destination traffic may pass now and later add an entry fee as outlined in Boka Bay 2020 article but for now, enforce the usage of the Ferry for all major vehicles who do not need to go there for accommodation or supply or tourism reason. If you put a policeman asking all and a table to explain the ferry makes more turnover as well and put the cost of the re-location to the Ferry operator. The Austrian Government did the same in Sarajevo with the INATI Restaurant even 150 years ago. It can be done within one winter no problem and the traffic is much faster no need for bridge or tunnel at all.
- Traffic restriction for Inner Bay of Kotor – speed limit 30 km/h all along the Bay road in season
This leads to the traffic restriction for the Inner Bay of Kotor I have called for many years now. During the season only two months access only with payment is the best option. As the Austrian Administration has built the coastal road as it is today and it was the right decision but today in main touristic usage in summer both traffic and consumers walking to the beaches of the Inner bay have to live in some cooperation which can only work if you put a price tag on the entry and so only the once with a reason of logistics to the Bay and tourism in the Bay come in and the rest either pays or uses the ferry. With a resident card, I have outlined already this is simple to administer and the effect for the Inner Bay tourism will be amazing. The Bay road is a touristic sensation in itself and not a transit truck stops nor a rally track for local youth nor a black spot for traffic accidents nor a road where slow driving tourists are an annoying domestic supply truck in beach zone as they are smoothing home while other work and drive in summer heat, stay out of Boka all who are busy it is a zone of relax! And the simplest measure is a speed limit of 30 km/h with speed reduction measures like speed bumps – sleeping policemen in all village zones, beach access meaning basically everywhere in each 200 m and so to simply enforce the speed limit with physical infrastructure and remove it outside the season if this is what you want but during the crucial 2 months put many of them all along the Inner Bay road. Soon most local drivers from Herceg Novi and Kotor avoiding the Ferry will start to use it as it will be much faster and the Inner Bay road is for tourist with leisure and time no longer afraid for their life. True there are not so many deadly accidents mainly because the road allows anyhow only slow speed so 30km/h won’t be a shock but indeed there are so many angry shouting’s, near accident, desperate breaks, closes missing of families waking to the beach and people speeding by which are not part of any traffic statistic but make sure many European families never return to Boka and are happy to survive such conditions. And it is the family fathers driving who have the budgets to pay for expensive accommodation during summer who are competing on the road for safety with the resident voters who want to use the road in summer in same hyper speed as always to drink their coffee in just another coastal town or impress their girlfriends, true these are your voters but we are you costumers are we want safer roads for our family in the 2 months of the summer! Speed bumper and speed limit 30 in the Inner Bay from 2020 onwards.
- Upper Village bypass road – build them now before all hills are full of buildings!
Well, what to do with the traffic jam from Tivat to Bar, Herceg Novi to Ulcinj? Again, the Adriatic Highway will help and again working with Croatian, Bosnia, Albanian and Kosovo road authorities and media to communicate that the inland road via Podgorica is much faster would ensure a lot of Albanian and Diaspora drivers to drive inland. But some congestion in Adriatic coastal towns might be simply unavoidable. But it really does not take an international expert to understand upper bypasses are what needs to be done like in Perast, Dobrota and Petrovac as well for Tivat, Budva, Risan and Bar. Well it might not work for all – in Kotor and Morinj it is hard to do but in Risan, Bar and Budva, Herceg Novi & Bijela it is all planned and rather simple to do. I have written about it in Smart Mobility for Montenegro One and no need to come back. I am surprised you build the access road to Cetinje first and neglect the coastal bypass for now. The longer you delay the more building up there makes the project more expensive with higher costs for land access and expropriation. Some beach shuttles and some night live shuttles to bring people from and to beaches and from and to the night life (remember – do not drink and drive !) might do wonders. Most people go to same beaches during all holiday and taking a bus is much more cost-saving than using a car in a traffic jam and paying for parking if you ever can find a parking space at the coast in summer.
- Parking with smart pricing – higher during peak season! 0,8 offseason and 2 Euro in season
This leads to parking I have discussed this as well before but back to basics - public space is for the public but the access is payable and pricing decides the access and usage. And for the massive user meaning residents and long-time tourists who needs parking a long time reduce subscription on non-discriminatory basis meaning everybody of EU or Montenegro resident can buy it and it results in cheaper access long term but all short-term single user pays for parking and pays an amount which secures there is parking reasonable accessible for short term access. Good, what does that mean concrete?
First, all coastal Municipalities have to ensure all their area is short term parking during summer. Second, all accommodation has to have the legal obligation to provide parking at their accommodation or pay a fine to municipalities. Better public transport from beaches can be financed with such revenue. So, Perast with 5 Euro a day in too cheap but for one hour too expensive. Porto Montenegro with 2 Euro per hour is about right in the Coastal Area. Morinj beach parking for 2 Euro per day is much too cheap. Any beer costs 2 Euro for a drink and parking a day for 2? No! And why pay 5 Euro if you stay only one hour? That is a bit excessive! So, what is needed is simple to increase the public parking fee from 80 Eurocents to 2 Euros in July and August in all coastal municipalities public and private parking and oblige all accommodation providers to build their own parking spaces or pay a fine to municipalities or to rent one for each apartment and yes you can do that legally we in Vienna call that Stellplatzverpflichtung google it. Parking at the accommodation should be included in the price of the accommodation and if you want to make excursions than you have to pay for the parking as part of your excursion budget and off-season return to 0,8 Euro.
- Social unfair or a major burden for citizens?
Please remember that tourism is the key to Montenegro prosperity for all citizens. It is your only major industry for foreign revenue and affects all sectors from construction material to Government to agriculture to IT, simple everything depends on the money earned by tourism, accommodation and hospitality sector. So, call on the population that they know in July and August parking is expensive and organise their life accordingly and organise public administration accordingly. Nobody shall need to go to MUP or Municipality in summer – do that during the year in the time of e-Gov! Most things can be done after the summer and keep your museums open on Mondays in the tourism season! I mean I it is a tourism country and all you recent 13 years of success is funded by tourism, land sales to tourism, construction projects due to tourism – a Podgorica city boom funded by selling the coastal property to tourism investor and consumer and without tourism where would you be? And tourism season is short in Montenegro and so do all other things during the rest of the year and focus on tourism during the 60 or 75 days there is interest and consumption and simple treat tourists as the individual they are who work hardback home to spend in your amazing country and have deserved your full respect or they move to Turkey, Greece or Tunisia or Croatia. So, a working and successful tourism sector is crucial for the welfare of pensioners and construction workers and hospital employees and please this is message to educate all population – we are not "neki turisti" but the most important lifeline of prosperity of all Montenegro so next time you meet a tourist – we are all tourists here not immigrants be friendly say hello, speak some words in English, smile at least a bit, drive carefully and do not push or bully or threaten a tourist but treat him and his family for the respect required and deserved for working hard a year to spend his and her time and money in your country. Everybody to do so is an honour and show him and her that he is welcome. And stop complaining about cruise ships, tourist just looking, high prices and overcrowding but organise your public system better to cope with the inflow and so developed from a developing country to a European Member Montenegro to which all other European are happy to bring their money and spend their time full of happy memories and not afraid of their safety and in traffic jams. And getting a prosperous tourism magnet is the only way to keep funding your pension system, your hospitably open and your welfare system running and so it is not anti-social to ask for 2 Euro per hour for parking but it is perfectly possible for poor people to take the bus during summertime or walk to the beach. And again, the hard truth the summer is for people in a summer holiday destination the main working period – it is the time everybody here should be working full time in the tourism industry and no it is not for the Montenegro youth you enjoy but to work in summer in. tourism. Ask in any Austrian Alpine ski village if the people ski in winter – if they do then as ski instructors or during some off days but during the rest of the season they are working very hard to earn for all year when their village is less in demand.
- Invest in modern parking systems – with card payments!
Amazing Porto Montenegro has not Credit Card parking payment – investing half a billion Euro but not buying the payment option for the parking system provider what is that about? We are now in the world of contactless payments by bank cards and good and apple pay and Porto Montenegro is asking everybody to park the car and pay at a parking machine in cash!
And in Tivat Airport it is the symbol for careless management of the details – there is nothing happening when no flight but when two flight arrive at about the same time - the one parking area is so full and for leaving you have to wait for 40 min each time to pay their 80 Eurocents just because there is just one booth working to allow this payment in cash to leave the parking system? Is this European Montenegro in 2019 or Yugoslavia 1989? Anywhere in the world, there is an automated parking system with Credit Cards and in Montenegro, so do you have to have people in hot boxes collecting cash?
And it takes no new concession or major strategy to open a second booth to pay for parking, just a bit of love and care for your consumer and tourists. It is the combination and accumulation of small steps with a big impact by time which turns countries in successful tourist destinations. And again, what will you be without tourism? Montenegro would be condemned to live of its agriculture and industry and both are having very little commercial prospect without a construction industry selling flats to the world and food to consumer in restaurants frequented by tourists. It took as in Austria 2 generations to get this touristic mentality going but visit Austria no matter what the weather the experience is great and we have amazing return figures of tourists coming back every year.
Stop complaining - make sure there is nobody complaining about you
Complaining about a bad season results in nothing – you need to make sure tourists find nothing to complain in standard public services. And be sure a day a beach with truck passing by, a city visit to magic Perast with no parking, a long wait at the border, or parking payment box or traffic jams whenever at the Highway lead to a One and Only visit mentality for Montenegro tourists – come once and great and we come back once you are ready later in the decade once you are in the EU and all of this will anyhow be done inside the EU. But please why not now and turn every tourist into an Ambassador for Montenegro -saying to everybody back home that Montenegro is not only magic and amazing but as well ready for European future by being positive experiences in all simple 12 steps as outlined above. And please implement them before the Adriatic Highway reaches Montenegro and will bring much more European tourists into driving range from the European population's centre in Central Europe.
This article is the 3rd in series to contribute to better tourism and economic development by Austrian and European best practices in transport and tourism planning and pricing. For more information about the economic part read Strategy for European Boka 2020 and transport and mobility issues read Smart Mobility Strategy RecommendationsRecommendations from 2018, still fully to be implemented.
Read more news about lifestyle in Montenegro at TMN's dedicated page.