April 27, 2019 - Will Montenegro, like neighboring Croatia, soon become a gay-friendly tourist destination for millions of LGBT tourists from Europe and the world and is it ready to provide them with quality offers?
The question of security is also to be mentioned, since Montenegrin society is, in spite of its progress towards sexual minorities, still profoundly traditional and not too open to this kind of diversity.
According to official figures in 50 European countries, there are 26 million LGBT people, which is 2.6 percent of the total population in the Old Continent. It is a potential new market for Montenegrin tourism, so Montenegrin hoteliers and caterers seem far ahead of the state to devise a way to attract LGBT tourists.
"We've been gay-friendly for four or five years now and at the reception of our hotel stands the flag in the colors of the rainbow as a welcome sign to LGBT guests. Otherwise, once you enter the story, you see that the guests are like everyone else and I would very much like to see these guests in our hotel and our country," says Žarko Radulović, Director of Hotel Splendid for Radio Free Europe (RSE).
And the hotel Center Ville is branded as gay-friendly, says PR manager Milo Radonjić, who adds:
"I believe that the state and owners of both hotels and private accommodations can only profit from the fact that these guests are the ones who spend the most and are willing to pay for the service. But they are also looking for an excellent service, and when it comes to creating an offer, one has to think about it."
Anđela Đokić from Konoba Ćatović's in Boka Kotorska says they have long since adopted a friendly concept for all guests, including LGBT. Djokic believes that hoteliers and caterers are ready to introduce LGBT tourism but are not confident that Montenegrin society has become so open to new tourism trends.
"You know, Montenegro is a conservative society that has belonged to some other way of thinking, and now all of these global trends and new ways of thinking are coming to us. They are slowly coming to us. But I think that there is certainly potential for LGBT tourism and that Montenegro should think in that direction," Djokic says.
According to the European Gay Association Association's (GETA) data, LGBT people living in Europe spend 50 billion euros annually. Their share in total tourist spending, as estimated by GETA, is 8 percent of EUR 630 billion, as much as the EU annually imports from tourism.
The only criterion for those who want to be branded as gay-friendly for almost all of the world's providers of tourism accommodation is that their business has to do with tourism and are ready to host LGBT tourists and provide them the same treatment as other guests.
As gay-friendly, you can apply to hotels, restaurants, cafes and all other facilities that have a tourist or hospitality purpose.
Marina Miketić from the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism says for RSE that in this sector they are aware of the potential and opportunities offered by the LGBT tourism market, recalling that the new Strategy covers this issue for the Improvement of the Quality of Life of LGBT People in Montenegro.
"We will, with the involvement of experts in this area, conduct market analysis and assessments in the context of the LGBT tourism market. This analysis should serve as a basis for making a program of offers for LGBT tourists coming to Montenegro. Based on that we will see which are the biggest challenges and how we will overcome them. It is also about identifying gay-friendly locations and content that will be visually mapped," Miketić said.
Montenegro, therefore, is moving into a more concrete campaign to attract LGBT tourists while they are already working in the neighborhood.
As Bojana Jokić of the LGBT Forum Progress says for RSE, Croatia has developed a strategy for the development of LGBT tourism and has already mapped LGBT friendly sites and sites.
"Last year, they had branded 30 beaches and 18 hotels as gay-friendly, and now there are probably even more. In 2011, they made a map of facilities and locations that are gay-friendly, as well as a gay map and guide at the state level. They also have specialized tourist agencies that bring LGBT tourists to Croatia," says Jokić, who is the author of the first publication in Montenegro that deals with LGBT tourism.
Text by Predrag Tomović, RFE