Photo credit: www.zlatibor.org, VRELE GUME
The Serbian St Moritz
If somehow a higher force could erase all the bizarre stands with souvenirs and the fast food shops with pictures of food from their menu, we could describe as Zlatibor the St Moritz of Serbia. Although you can still experience something similar outside of the Zlatibor Bermudan Triangle. All it takes is some effort to show your meeting guests the true essence of Zlatibor, hidden from the city centre eyes. But we do believe Zlatibor’s construction of numerous hotels and apartments is a step in the right direction. The city deserves further development and is, in our opinion, a congress destination with huge potential in the region. We can easily place it in the ranks of Bled, Bansko and other mountain centres.
125 years of organised tourism
The remarkable countryside, friendly climate, and special micro-geography impressed even the Serbian king Aleksander Obrenović during his visit to Kulaśevac in 1893. This year Zlatibor is celebrating 125 years of organised tourism and among the 250.000 tourists who come each year you can also find many event meeting participants. The meetings are mostly organised by local associations composed of lawyers, doctors, and other professional associations. Next, to the superb meeting infrastructure, the participants are attracted to the divine nature, clean environment and the tourist offer, which is also appealing, offering 150 different restaurants and bars. Nature plays a key role in further development and so the county of Čajeta/Zlatibor has set the goal to make Zlatibor the most sustainable and ecological county in Serbia.
In the midst of urbanisation, and hotel and apartment growth, it is hard to distinguish the good from the bad. There are more than 22,000 beds in Zlatibor and over 1,200 of them belong to the 4-star hotel category. Meeting guests generally choose 4-star hotels, among which Hotel Mona, Grand Hotel Tornik, Hotel Palisad, and Hotel Olimp stand out. They are complemented by a line of smaller boutique hotels and apartments. The offer is incredibly diverse and a good foundation for the further development of meeting tourism. Quite a number of hotels specialise in sport and sports tourism, which enables the development of incentive programmes.
The longest funicular in Europe leading to Tornik
In 2019 the longest funicular in Europe will be finished in Zlatibor, connecting the centre of the city with the top of Tornik at an altitude of 1496 m. The 9 km long funicular will offer 25 minutes of picturesque views of Zlatibor. Up until now, the longest one was in Zhangiasie, a national park in China. Regardless of the funicular, we recommend visiting the resort, which is equipped with modern ski lifts and snow cannons. The resort is attractive in all seasons and offers experiences that are also suitable for incentive groups (tubing, sledding, etc.).
Most tourists come to Zlatibor because of the beautiful nature, which can be a great starting point for organising incentive programmes. Among the attractions we came across is the Stopić cave. It is an underground cave with several halls, stretching over 2 kilometres and offering unique karst phenomena. Belonging to the category of natural treasures worth visiting, there is also the Gostilj waterfall and only half an hour away, the Tara National Park. The karst plateau in eastern Serbia belongs to the most densely forested region in Europe. The canyon of the River Drina is an ideal location for rafting. Because of its importance, Tara National Park was declared a national park in 1981, with the goal to preserve biodiversity.
Among the Special Venues, you will find the Sirogojno Museum, which is located 24 km outside Zlatibor. The ethno-village showcases the architecture and the life of local people. The village was first mentioned back in the 15th century. It was thoroughly renovated in 1980 and you can get an insight into a typical Zlatibor rural house. Especially popular are the famous hand-knitted pullovers and other handmade souvenirs. There are a number of restaurants furnished in an authentic retro style, also offering the organisation of events and you can find them right next to the road throughout the region.
Mokra gora, Drvengrad
Drvengrad is a story all of its own just because of its charismatic founder Emir Kusturica. The film director’s village in Mečavnik was built for the needs of a movie called “Life is a Miracle” in 2004. The wooden village is a mix of modern Western-style and traditional Serbian, where the traveller can either take part in sports or simply take a break and stay overnight. The village has a restaurant, a library, a gallery, a cinema and most importantly, the charisma and brilliance of the director himself. The incentive story can be enhanced by boarding the museum train, which runs through the bridges and tunnels of the “Šarganska osmica” line.
You cannot bypass rakia/brandy in Serbia. Among the most recognised providers is the oldest Serbian distillery BB (Bajina Bašta). It was founded in 1953 and is famous for its brandies klekovač, slivovica and travarica. The production covers 11 distilleries, which you can experience when you plan your next incentive programme, also featuring an extremely nice degustation space. The optimal group size is 20 to 50 participants and they are guaranteed a special vibe in a cosy and friendly environment.
Placed among serious and thriving meeting institutions are Hotel Mona and Hotel Palisad. Mona deserves the title of best in Zlatibor from the aspect of meeting guests. The hotel-meeting offer is still fresh, even though it is not the latest hotel in Zlatibor. Altogether it seems that Hotel Mona is the first choice for meeting organisers wishing to find a good, reliable and an authentic hotel. A serious competitor is the Grand Hotel Tornik with a new congress centre. Featuring a smaller conference room is also Hotel Olimp and the Čigota special hospital. Another option for hosting larger events is the Sport-Tourist Centre Zlatibor with a capacity of up to 1,200 participants (the size of the hall is 14,300 m2).
Instead of a Conclusion
It appears that a larger, modern multifunctional meeting centre would benefit everyone and further accelerate the development of meeting tourism in Zlatibor. It would come across as a nice addition to the hotel potential of Zlatibor and its tourist offer. At the moment, meeting tourism depends on the proactiveness of local hoteliers and the destination’s accessibility. It is focused on the regional market, but we believe it has the potential to be bigger and in return, the local meetings bureau would benefit as well. In combination with the well-organised Serbian Convention Bureau, Zlatibor could become the host of international meetings and incentives. Zlatibor is a hidden Balkan incentive gem.
ZLATIBOR INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2018/2019
MTLG INDEX / 2019 EDITION
- The number of 4* and 5* category hotel rooms: 1,327
- The number of 4* and 5* category hotels: 8
- Banquet hall maximum capacity: 650
- The largest hall in the city (in m2): 14,300
- Destination population: 2,821
- Maximum hall capacity in theatre style: 1,200
M- MEETING DESTINATION
Destinations that can host up to 1,200 congress attendees.
WHAT'S HOT IN 2019
Larger conferences and meetings in 2019:
- 53rd Serbian Agronomy Meeting / 27 – 31 January 2019
The largest international meeting of agronomy experts
- Defectologist Days 2019 / 21 – 24 February 2019
International conference for specialised defectologists.
- CNN Tech conference / 02 – 05 July 2019
International conference in the field of engineering and process technology.
- 6th Regional Conference Transportlog / 7 – 8 November 2019
Meeting of the leading experts in the field of transport and logistics.
- XXII Congress of The Association of Serbian Cardiologists / 17 – 20 October 2019
The largest expert meeting of cardiologists in Serbia
Larger tourist events in Zlatibor in 2019:
- Kustendorf 2019 / 11 – 16 January 2019
International film and music festival
- “Village’s all-around athletics competition”/ June 2019
A showdown in traditional skills, professions and sports, which can easily compete with the far more renowned games in Scotland.
- International Festival of Sports Film / June 2019
Regional competition for the best sports movie
- The 46th Trumpeters Meeting / 28 – 29 July 2019
Meeting of the most renowned Serbian Trumpeters bands.
- Hillsup Festival / 9 – 11 August 2019
- The fifth annual music festival with an impressive line-up of performers.
COMPARISON WITH THE REGION
In comparison to similar destinations, Zlatibor has the advantage of having a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Meeting guests are rarely bored during their stay and this holds true for all seasons. The city centre is a city in itself and, together with the diverse choice of restaurants and tourist offer, enables various experiences. To make it onto the international scene the key would be better road accessibility, which is soon to be realised. Until the completion of the road connection, Zlatibor’s meeting events will remain mostly local. Such events should be followed by better local organisation and systematic work when it comes to qualified personnel. Zlatibor is undoubtedly a destination with huge potential for development.