Macedonia Seeks a new "Fresh start' in Trade Industry 

For more than twelve years, Macedonia has been trying to find a new way towards the development. This small country is trying, at least, to regain the previous levels in industry and tourism among the ex Yugoslav and Balkan countries. The proclaimed goals are too far from reality and it seems that almost all its neighbors and countries under similar economic conditions have done much more. Only as a reminder, the general conditions in the late 1980s favored this “land of nature and cradle of culture.”  

imageThe local and foreign analysts said that the main problem could be the Macedonian general development policy. The main goal of the officials so far has been to manage crises instead of taking clear and promising action in overcoming difficulties. It seems the time is right to take proper measures and to achieve bigger and faster economical growth, at least similar to the one of not so long ago. 

This country seems to have too many justifications for its dreadful results accusing the circumstances related to the situation in the region. However, it is quite clear that a very strong and pretty unexpected drop of figures in the travel trade industry is a consequence of inaccurate assumptions for the local and regional political development. Figures show a start of stagnation in the tourism industry at the beginning of the 1990s and a catastrophic drop, later on. Nevertheless, in reality there are just a few attempts to regain previous advantages.  

Is this just a long-term, yet finished story of the Macedonian tourism fall? According to some present analyses and actions in the field of promotion, there is still hope that this year, things will be better. Maybe even, spectacular in the next year.  

This conclusion comes from the fact that finally, the tourist workers from travel agencies and hotels have started to effectively cooperate in order to attract back thirty thousand Dutch tourists and similar numbers from England, Germany and several East European countries, to Macedonia. Tourists from these countries in the late 1970s and 1980s represented a prosperity factor of the Macedonian summer and winter tourist resorts.  

The action is supported and financed by the MCA (Macedonian Competitiveness Activity) branch of the USAID agency, which provides significant development funds for Macedonia. The first big step was the mutual presentation on the “Raisen Pavilion” Fair, in Hanover, Germany. The first news are optimistic and say that the European and North American tour operators are announcing interest in summer and autumn/winter holiday packages. Macedonia offers potential for 75,000 commercial beds; of which 14,500 are high-class accommodations.  

Main points of this year’s promotion are the most attractive locations on the shores of the Ohrid Lake and the ski resorts in Mavrovo, both in the western part of Macedonia. Though the crowds of jet-set clients are not expected, estimations for this year’s revenues are in the neighborhood of 50 million US dollars from room accommodations, only. That is a 10% increase compared to the previous year. That means that Macedonia will have to arrange accommodation for over half a million foreign and two million domestic tourists. Almost 7,000 employees at the hotels and tourist agencies will be in their service in order to earn sufficient funds essential for future development. Besides the traditional Macedonian tourist offers, for the nature lovers there will be possibilities for active holidays in several locations, and a special attention will be given to the growing interest in mountain biking.  

Attractive seems to be the “one destination – three states” offer which is a joint cooperation between Greek, Albanian and Macedonian tour operators, and the Prespa Lake and its surroundings is becoming a challenge. The first wave of tourists begins in April, and the main season is in July and August until October when the winter season usually starts. The Macedonian tourist workers are hoping that this tiny, yet attractive country will reach the desired comeback as the most popular continental region in the Balkan Peninsula.  

By Zivko Georgievski
eTN Macadonia

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