Tourism development requires visa liberalization and law amendments


Introduction of visa liberalization in order to attract tourists from destinations from all over the world, urgent amendments to laws on tourism and hospitality industry, and preparation of a strategy related to the field - these are some of the demands of the Association of Tourism and Hospitality of the Economic Chamber of Macedonia.

They are aimed at using the positive trends to develop tourism and raise the interest of foreign tourists to visit Western Balkan countries. However, Macedonia might miss these trends if it failed to amend its visa regime, the Association said Monday.

The Association told a press conference that it called for reintroduction of licencing of travel agencies, introduction of banking guarantee as a condition for obtaining licence, and the law to include provisions on insurance of arrangements.

"Foreign travel agencies pop up on the market that meet only minimal requirements, thus ruining the image by breaking the laws that apply for travel agencies on the market," said Daniela Mihajlovska-Aleksovska.

At the start of the new tourist season, she noted, the industry is facing the same problems as last year. According to Mihajlovska-Aleksovska, it is obvious that it is necessary to adopt a tourism strategy, which is in its final stage, but hasn't been adopted yet.

Macedonia on the global map of tourism is featured with less than 0.1%. The number of tourists last year increased by 16.6% compared to 2016. The number of foreign tourists rose 23.5%, and the number of domestic tourists increased by 6.3%. The number of overnight stays rose by 12.8% during the same period.

Tourists from Turkey, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and the Netherlands top the list of visitors in Macedonia. Foreign exchange turnover last year was recorded at $326.9 million. Tourism in the GDP participates with 2.2 per cent.

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