Montenegro points to its great outdoors

by Steve Hartridge

Montenegro will be looking to draw visitors next year to its uncrowded beaches, back-to-nature mountain activities and rural locations, with the UK identified as one of its top five target markets for 2021.  

The National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro (NTO Montenegro) launched a new global campaign in early November, desifned to showcase the country's natural environment and highlight opportunities for off-the-beaten-path outdoor experiences.  

"‘Nature & Me’ focuses on the need for people to embrace nature... whilst the digital world has helped us see people during this pandemic, nothing beats your interaction with nature; your feet meeting the waves and the ability we have to travel and to embrace the natural world,” said Željka Radak Kukavičić, Director of NTO Montenegro. 

"Maybe it’s time to look with fresh eyes at the world around us. We recognise the trends emerging for travel in 2021 post-pandemic and will look to bring more focus to the country’s outdoor activities in natural, rural locations. This dispersal of travellers will also engage regional tourism which, in turn, brings focus to responsible tourism," she added. 

Located on the Balkan Peninsula, attractions include the Montenegrin hills, nature reserves, five national parks, caves and canyons.  

The country's Adriatic coastline stretched over 180 miles, featuring 117 sandy beaches: Velika Plaža is the longest sandy beach on the Adriatic, at more than 13 kilometres.  

Montenegro's Adriatic coast is fast becoming a high-end luxury destination, with One&Only the latest luxury hotel group to announce it is to open a property there: One&Only Portonovi, will open in March 2021.  

 One&Only's first property in Europe will feature 113 luxury guestrooms, suites and villas and 10 private homes with views of the UNESCO World Heritage site Bay of Kotor.  

Other upscale hotel brands that have invested in the same stretch of coastline include Regent Porto Montenegro, Aman’s Sveti Stefan, The Chedi Luštica Bay in Marina Village, Iberostar Grand Perast and several five-star boutique hotels. 

Other key attractions in Montenegro include The Tara River Canyon in the Durmitor National Park, which at over 1,300 metres is the longest and deepest gorge in Europe (only the Grand Canyon in the USA is deeper). Its river is popular for white-water rafting. 

Skadar Lake National Park, between the sea and the mountains, is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula and home to over 280 bird species.Montenegro also has a thriving wine industry. About 30 kilometres inland from the Adriatic, next to Lake Skadar, Plantaže is the largest vineyard in Europe in a single complex. It sells more than 17 million bottles a year and offers wine tasting and tours through its vineyards and cellars. 

Currently, Ryanair operates a weekly (Saturday) departure to Podgorica, Montenegro's capital, from London-Stansted. The service is slated to run until at least March 31 2021.  

Other airlines that have served Montenegro in the summer season include EasyJet, Jet2 and Montenegro Airlines, flying to Tivat.  

Tourism accounted for 32% of GDP in 2019 when Montenegro welcomed 81,000 UK travellers to the country, an increase of 30% year on year. 

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