Last days, the intensive anti-Montenegrin campaign on the Serbian portals aims at degrading the image of Montenegro as an attractive tourist destination. The Serbian and pro-Serbian media are not missing the opportunity to emphasize the weaknesses of the tourist offer on Montenegrin littoral, while simultaneously favoring other destinations.
Not considering the essence of the Montenegrin Government’s decision to take the same stand towards all the countries which have more than 25 infected people per 100,000 citizens, the official Serbia as well as the other mentioned media reacted strongly. Otherwise, the mentioned decision is not motivated by political or any other ideological reasons since the borders are closed for all the countries having more than 25 infected people per 100,000 citizens. On the other hand, the borders are open for Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Albania, Poland, Czech Republic and Greece. Meanwhile, the Government stated that the decision was made on the basis of guidelines of the EU and the Institute for Public Health, but it is also possible that Montenegro will open the borders with some other countries from the region, depending on the situation in the moment when the law comes into force.
Claims about politically motivated decision
Reacting to the Montenegrin decision not to include Serbia in the group of countries that Montenegro will open borders with on June 1, the official Belgrade stated that this decision is purely political. Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, stated that Serbia would not close its borders for Montenegrin citizens as Podgorica did for the citizens of Serbia, emphasizing that the Serbian citizens should not go where they are not wanted. The same day, the Civil Aviation Directorate of the Republic of Serbia banned the landing of the Montenegro Airlines aircraft to the Belgrade Airport. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, stated that the Montenegrin Government intentionally did not include Serbia in the list of the countries whose citizens can freely access to Montenegro. According to him, what the Montenegrin authorities actually said is: we do not need Serbian tourists.
According to the data from the official portal Covid19.rs, there have been 11,227 confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of a pandemic, and 6,067 persons were healed (in the moment of writing). This means that there are 5,160 active coronavirus cases currently, or, that there are 72 infected people par 100,000 citizens, which significantly surpasses the quota that Montenegrin Government imposed.
Together with the messages of the highest Serbian officials that the Serbs should not come to Montenegro, there are also the messages from the Serbian tabloids:
MONTENEGRIN HOSTS DEVASTATED: No guests except for the local ones that come here on the weekends! Montenegrins are whining, their season is ruined! Beaches are empty, the guests not in sight, Is Montenegro condemned to failure without the Serbs this summer? Here’s how many Serbs exactly spend the summer there and how much money they spend, RUSSIANS ARE NOT COMING, EVERYONE IS CALLING OFF, NO WORKFORCE: Forecast for the summer season in Montenegro is bad! SHARK in Montenegro! THREE-METER beast spotted near the favorite beaches of the Serbian tourists, SERBS, DO NOT GO TO MONTENEGRO TO THE SEA! Here’s what could happen to you. Those are just some examples of the headlines that the media such as Espresso, Alo, Telegraf, Srbija Danas, Informer, etc. use to spread the negative narratives on Montenegro.
Along with these, the series of fake news is launched on a daily basis. One of the examples is that 17 sports fans of the club Buducnost were taken into custody in Podgorica and Cetinje. They were found with the stickers Hang the Serbs from the willow trees and Serbs, get out of Montenegro, as well as the arsenal of cold weapons. This was firstly published by Informer, the portal which also claims that the fans were preparing to lynch the Serbian tourists during the season in Budva, Kotor and Tivat, to crash their cars, take off registration plates and stick the threatening stickers.
Fake news and made-up statistics
Along with the media from Serbia, fake news was also published by the Montenegrin portals. Therefore, IN4S is writing on the new research in the field of hospitality, stating that only 4% of the citizens from Serbia want to go to Montenegro, while on the other hand, 80% want to go to Greece?! After this post, the article was republished by many tabloids from Serbia.
We are reminding that this-year intensified campaign against the tourist economy in Montenegro is not a new phenomenon. It represents a continuation of the negative propaganda from the previous years when our country was represented as an expensive and unsafe destination, with dirty beaches and aggressive locals who do not like the Serbs. The narratives on a pre-failed season are repeating year after year. Luckily, they have not affected our tourism so far. We hope that situation will remain the same this year, having to take into consideration that the pandemic will definitely leave a trace not only on the tourist economy in Montenegro but also on the other tourist destinations in the world.