Tatjana Popović, the director of Tourism Organization in Podgorica, which was established in 2005, is the lady running the project of making Podgorica a worldwide known MICE destination. Ms. Popović has a big mission – creating a world known destination in this city that is successfully meeting the needs of the tourist market. She took over the tourist organization, with a tabula-rasa worksheet and now plays an active role in making it an all year round destination.
This hidden and unspoiled jewel, with divine and pure natural scenery, is a land of opportunities for touristic development. Podgorica is a perfect combination of unique Montenegrian tradition, kind, warm and hospitable people and the unstoppable and rapid development of this city. This small city of many untold stories, pure rivers, and beautiful contrasts seems like it is keeping its rich historic soul but transforming its body to a modern world destination.
Mrs. Popović speaks about her city with enthusiasm and love, with optimism and loyalty and with her knowledge, she is making an impact in developing tourism in Podgorica.
Q: We had a talk with you for the Kongres Magazine almost two years ago. Can you please highlight some of the main new features in Podgorica as a congress destination, that was developed in this two years?
Looking back over the last two years the tourist infrastructure is being upgraded opening new brands and congress capacities, such as hotels: Hilton – synonymous with first class hospitality around the world, CentreVille– perfectly located to host a business meeting and conference, “Verde” with 285 m2 conference area. Also, the Hard Rock Caffe – as the first of its kind in the Adriatic region located inside the Capital Plaza Center and new tourism products are being developed to meet the demands of visitors.
We have to point out that in 2017 the Tourism organization of Podgorica become a member of NECSTour – Network of European Region for Competitive and Sustainable Tourism. At the moment We are in Membership Application Processes for ECM – European Cities Marketing which is specialized for improving the competitiveness and performance of the leading cities of Europe. ECM provides a platform for Leisure, Meetings Industry, and City marketing.
Q: What is the main factor that distinguishes Montenegro as a MICE tourism destination?
Montenegro is located in the heart of Mediterranean region, characterized by diverse culture, gorgeous landscape and Adriatic coastline with diverse and segmented touristic offer. The country is tourism-oriented with focus on MICE industry and is hosting numerous international events during the year. Famous congress capacities are located in the Podgorica, Budva, and Bar.
Q: How does Podgorica compete with the south and north of Montenegro, that still has the highest number of visitors? What is it in the offer of the capital that should be particularly focused on and could make the offer competitive in relation to the other two regions?
Podgorica as the Capital City has special status according to the other cities in Montenegro and is increasing as an attractive destination with a segmented tourist offer. It is a home to a number of foreign embassies, business, and university centers and it is a place with fascinating exhibitions, festivals, and events during the year.
Q: How would you describe the people of Podgorica?
Hospitable, friendly and open for visitors, committed to showcasing Podgorica as a charming and enjoyable place ready for new visitors to discover.
Q: Can you please tell us more about the Incentive programs? What kind of incentives is Podgorica offering? What would you suggest as an incentive?
Podgorica has diverse attractions and tourist like to enjoy in the green areas and pure nature, rich cultural heritage, as well as surrounding area which is excellent for outdoor activities, with panoramic roads and trail for hiking and biking. Always recommendable as a segment of incentives are our divine cuisine, attractive vine cellar, and popular shopping.
The city is the site of various cultural and sports events throughout the year, a program of events in the city consists of rich theatre, concerts and cinemas repertoire, gallery exhibitions, and there is a great offer of clubs and discos for lovers of nightlife.
In terms of Natural attractions – for hiking and biking we recommend panoramic roads – the Circuit around Korita where many forests, meadows, springs, streams are surrounded by mountain peaks. Podgorica is a meeting point of many cultures. Diverse offer is characterized by a rich cultural heritage and multiconfessional and humanized citizens. As for historical sites in form of Incentive terms, We could recommend archeological sites Duklja – The ancient site of the Roman period that has the prefix “Montenegrin Pompei” and Medun with a memorial museum of Marco Miljanov.
For the more active tourists, the Outdoor training proposals are hiking, biking on the trail in the city that leads outside in surrounding area. Adventure park “Gorica” is an ideal place for all lovers of sports and adrenaline. The Park is located just a few minutes from the city center in the central part of the Gorica hill. The park has five “air” tracks, three for children and two for adults.
The culinary scene in Podgorica is delicious and unique for some food such as Popeci, japraci, etc. and thanks to culinary diversity – local cuisine is fusing the see and the lake food, which parts Podgorica as a culinary destination. Among the Special venues, the Vineyards are offering a vine trail where it is possible to visit and taste wines in the wine cellar Šipčanik, Ćemovsko field, and Lješkopolje, and there is also an offer of wine cellars of local wine producers. The most known winery is “Plantaže”.
The city is known as a city that follows the world fashion trends (numerous boutiques and shopping malls). Center of the nightlife are streets: Hercegovacka, Njegoseva, Bokeska, The Capital Plaza Center…
Q: What is the plan for the Podgorica’s tourism and recognition in the future?
We will be working on active cooperation with tourist agency on creating new attractive and inspiring incentive programmes for visitors and we are active with promo activities to make Podgorica more attractive as MICE destination. Numerous culture and touristic events will continue to be organized with a focus on the promotion of our culture and local customs.
Q: Are there any big and important renovations planned for the city in the near future?
We will do for the first time Strategic document for tourism development of the city. That will be crucial activity in EU cross-border project where is LTO Podgorica one of the partners.
Q: In 2016 you already explained the situation about opening the Convention Bureau in Podgorica. What is new regarding that?
There is no Convention bureau in Podgorica yet, but in Tourism Board of Podgorica We are doing activities and have an excellent connection with hotels industry for MICE and agencies with Incentive programmes.
Q: How is Podgorica developed in terms of the General Infrastructure?
Podgorica is regional airport hub and transit location for seaside tourists and final business destination with a great number of arrivals of regional and international guests.
In recent years, Montenegro became a more accessible airport destination thanks to the growing number of low-cost carriers on two airports in Podgorica and Tivat. Low-cost companies that are present in Montenegro are WizzAir (connection to Budapest, Munich, Berlin, Milan, Warsaw), Ryanair (Connection to Brussels, London), EasyJet (Connection to Geneva, London, Manchester). There will also be a new connection with LOT from Podgorica to Warsaw from 1st June of 2018. Montenegro Airlines has two new connections to Leipzig and Munich.
There are current activities for the improvement of public transport services, safety, and security quality in accordance with Action Plan of the Government of Montenegro for the coming tourist summer season 2018.
Q: Is there any specific strategy, when it comes to congress tourism?
According to with the Masterplan crucial document for Montenegrin tourism development, Montenegro is recognized as MICE destination. Due to that our primary goal is to develop Podgorica to become recognized as leading MICE destination in the Region.
Q: What is the dominant profile of the visitors in the city?
Podgorica doesn’t have a seasonal character, it is equally visited during the whole year.The dominant profile of the visitors are business and the average visit lasts around three days. In addition to tourists from the countries of the Region and Russia, which are traditionally the most numerous and at the destination level, a growing number of tourists coming from Western, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries, but also from more distant areas of Israel, America, China and Australia.
Q: How do you market Podgorica? How do you build the destination brand perception of the city?
Image of the city as a destination is being improved and strategic goal is to develop the City as a prestige MICE destination. In 2014 Podgorica became A category tourist site which additionally improved our image and visibility.
Q: If you had a magic stick, what would you instantly change in order to make Podgorica even more attractive for congress tourists?
I would build Exhibition Congress center in Podgorica, which was previously discussed, and make Podgorica regional center for Event Industry.