Sustainable Tourism – a new development opportunity for Serbia

June 2, 2022

Vlasina lake, Serbia


Belgrade, June 1, 2022 – At the meeting that HRH Aleksandar Karadjordjevic hosted yesterday at the Royal Palace, representatives of the United States Embassy, the University of South Florida (USF), Novi Sad University and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) highlighted sustainable tourism as an area of significant development potential in the country and agreed to work together to support the Government of Serbia to seize this opportunity.  

Recognizing the Serbian unique historic, gastronomic, and wine tourism offer as a still hidden gem to be uncovered by many international travelers looking for experiences aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), professors from the USF Sustainability Department and the Novi Sad University Tourism Department prepared a joint project to be implemented with the support of the US Embassy. This initiative will engage students of tourism, digital heritage, and information communication technologies from both universities who will create virtual and physical learning spaces to advance pedagogical techniques, student learning, and virtualization products, under the theme of Tourism Management and Cultural Preservation, while integrating the UN SDGs. The project aims to not just enable academic exchange, but also leverage scientific research for the benefit of the Serbian economy and local businesses in the tourism sector. 

During the COVID pandemic, the demand for the local tourism has soared, and it helped to identify the needs for further development of this sector. UNDP research showed that tourism, hospitality, and creative industries outside large cities and in rural areas are still enjoying popularity, as many people decide to spend their holidays and short breaks in the country, despite the increasing opportunities to travel abroad. There is an evident need for digitalization, increased knowledge and skills of small business owners, and improving the offer of local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The UNDP research also showed that the sector needs better business-to-business coordination and networking, customer segmentation and targeting across Serbia, to meet the standards and needs of modern travelers. Additionally, the investments in this sector need to be sustainable and within the principles of the green Agenda.  

UNDP is developing a wider sustainable tourism promotion portfolio across the country. Pilot sites of this portfolio include the Valjevo mountain range, the Vlasina lake and mountain and the Royal Palace compound in the capital of Belgrade as a third pilot location of the portfolio, due to its historic and cultural heritage, with rich educational and tourism potentials.