Montenegro visitor growth up as CEE demand increases

The Meliá Budva Petrovac opened last year in Montenegro. Photo credit: Meliá Hotels International

The Central and Eastern Europe region (CEE) has been growing as a tourism destination and countries within it are reporting significant upticks in visitor numbers from around the world.

According to data from the Monstat Directorate of Statistics published in the newspaper, Dnevne novine, hotels in Montenegro reported 1,076,848 guests last year, 959,121 of whom were international visitors. The number of foreign guests is up 12.7 percent from 2017, while the number of total overnight stays is 8.2 percent higher. 

Preliminary data found more than 84 percent of foreign guests were from other European countries, with Serbian visitors leading the way. Russia followed, with France, Germany and the U.K. making up the top three Western European nations. 

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Beyond Europe, 41,338 Chinese nationals came to Montenegro in 2018, while 31,958 were from Israel, 34,183 from Turkey and 22,843 from the U.S.

According to the European Travel Commission, Montenegro reported a 19-percent increase in visitor numbers in 2017. According to a PwC report from earlier this year, the country had boosted growth and proved its success in overcoming seasonality. Montenegro’s tourism revenue was €846.4 million in 2017, or around 22 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, and was expected to exceed €900 million in 2018.

As such, hotel companies are stepping up efforts to grow their footprints. Last summer, Meliá Hotels International made its debut in Montenegro with the 144-room Meliá Budva Petrovac. That property joined the Porto Montenegro in the Bay of Kotor—a UNESCO World Heritage site and once an Austrian naval base—that was developed into a marina capable of taking super-yachts by a consortium of investors including Jacob Rothschild, LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault and Canadian businessman and philanthropist Peter Munk. 

Spain's Iberostar Group also is looking to open a property in the country this year.