In Serbia, the traditional concept of trade still persists. The DSS will modernize it through a higher share of modern small service shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping courts, which will bring about healthy competition. The development of medical tourism will open up new jobs; allow even regional development and a better image of Serbian tourism.
The fact, on which DSS relies, is that trade, by turnover volume, the level of employment and contribution to GDP growth, has become one of the most important industries in Serbia, while tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. However, the fall in retail sales, the decline of commercial chains in Serbia, as well as underdevelopment of tourism, are sufficient reasons for these industries to take up an important role in the Program for Life!
Modern Trade: In the trade and services sector work over 20 percent of the employees of Serbia, while the pre-crisis growth rate of trade and services was higher by two to three times than the growth of the gross domestic product. Due to its labor-intensive and relatively low requests in relation to the qualifications of the employees, trade provides a strong contribution to the dynamics of the labor market. However, these advantages are not used sufficiently, because the still prevailing traditional concept of trade, especially in the retail segment, where we need to increase the shares of modern retail services like supermarkets, hypermarkets, commercial-service centers and so on. The biggest problem in this area is the lack of competition, the small number of participants in sales are still growing in the retail sector, resulting in the process of an incomplete privatization and high (formal and informal) barriers for the entry of foreign retail chains. The lack of competition results in an unjustified increase margins and lower levels of quality of services, while increasing prices of goods and endangering the standard of living.
Tourism: The share of tourism and catering economy in the domestic product of Serbia is 4.7 percent. The strategy for tourism development adopted in 2006 is not being carried out according to the planned schedule which is why the perspectives of this sector’s growth in Serbia are becoming increasingly narrowing. As the underlying problems in tourism in Serbia have been identified the poor state of road infrastructure, unresolved problems of local infrastructure, lack of speed of construction of new accommodation facilities and insufficient education of staff in the field of management in tourism.
When we talk about the attractiveness of Serbian tourism market for visitors from the region we should have in mind the paradox that hotel accommodation in Serbia, although among the poorest in quality, is the priciest in the region, because prices in Belgrade are more than 30 percent than rates in the region. This fact is explained by the low visit rates in hotel capacities, since fixed costs require that the hotel is over 50 percent full, while local hotels are on average full by about 30 to 35 percent.
Tourism potentials: The most important tourism potentials of Serbia are certainly the wealth of thermal springs, streams and river banks, particularly the Danube, the intact expanses of mountains and forests, vineyards, hunting and fishing zones, and a rich archaeological and architectural heritage. The world especially values the historical and artistic heritage of Serbian medieval monasteries. A great chance for Serbia lies in the development of rural tourism which has great potential to become a hit in the tourism offer of Europe.
Development through public-private partnerships: In terms of models for the financing of tourism development in Serbia, DSS, considering the circumstances in which the country is currently, considers the best way to develop this field is by applying the public-private partnership model. DSS is committed for the state to contribute to the rapid development of this untapped tourism potential on the southern slope of Kopaonik. Such a move would contribute to the economic development of the whole territory of the northern part of Kosovo and Metohija, to create new jobs in Shtrpce and consolidate and further strengthen the ties of the southern Serbian province with the rest of the Republic of Serbia.
The disorganization and low quality of the tourism offer is a very important opportune cost of the state because many of our citizens decide to spend their annual leaves and holidays in other countries. Estimates say that because of tourism from Serbia is taken out more than 750 million Euros per annum, with at least one third of the costs associated with purchasing goods.
Medical tourism: More jobs, balanced regional development, and a better image of Serbian tourism: Investing in the further expansion of health infrastructure would enable the development of more modern forms of tourism, representing a complete connection of medicine and tourism. The market for medical tourism is already now at over 60 billion Euros. The growth in demand for medical tourism services in the world is launched by the crisis in health care systems of developed countries, which led to the high cost of health services, long waiting time for certain interventions, and the trend of population aging.
The prerequisites for the development of this form of tourism are quality and professional medical staff, equipment of health care facilities, excellent accommodation and organization of treatment, lower medical costs and connection between the medical services offer with the tourism amenities and resources of the country.
By diversifying the activities of tourist centers, providing services for medical tourism would fulfill more priorities of economic development of Serbia: the tourism offer would diversify, a large number of highly educated personnel would find jobs, it would attract a new, more solvent segment of tourists, contribute to the recruitment of a number of accompanying activities, a balanced regional development and change the image of Serbian tourism.
In addition to building the road infrastructure, improving telecommunications, better non-lodging offers and appropriate accommodation for tourists, for a more serious approach to medical tourism it is necessary to build special facilities whose primary business would be providing specialized medical services for tourists, especially foreigners.
In order to achieve a higher step in the development of medical tourism it is necessary to build specialized facilities, to provide complex medical services associated with surgery and protracted recovery processes, in more attractive natural conditions.
The construction of a medical center intended for tourists should be followed by the construction of other facilities such as hotels and high class apartments, wellness and spa centers, shopping malls, sports and restaurant facilities.
The construction of a medical center whose capacity would be about two thousand patients would cost about 300 million Euros, including its equipment, but this is a very lucrative investment, even when a mere 60 percent of the capacity is utilized.
Health Tourism: A Serbian tradition: Serbia is a country with more than 160 years of tradition in health tourism. The waters, land and clean air are our main tourist potential. Serbia has as much as 360 registered sources of thermal and mineral waters, making it first in Europe, but with only 36 spa treatment facilities registered. Serbia has registered only five places with a healthy climate air, such as Divcibare, Ivanjica, Rudnik, Zlatar and Zlatibor, although there are dozens of places with same or better climatic conditions. The assumption is that spa tourism in Serbia utilizes only ten percent of its capacity, because more than 300,000 tourists a year stay at spas, of which over 95 percent are domestic tourists.
In order to effectively improve the situation in the field of spa tourism, it is necessary to:
- -Distinguish between the use of medicinal and thermal waters
- -Consider the segmental differences of spa and wellness tourism in the tourist offer
- -Adopt a detailed restructuring plan for the spas with plans to adjust health and tourist attraction growth
- -Adopt a unified model of spa privatization
- -Adopt a new legislation on spas
- -Define standards of service quality for spa and tourism services
- -Improve the quality of catering services
- -Develop a transportation and utility infrastructure
- -Develop human resources required to improve the health and tourism offer.
With better infrastructure, more attractive range of services, better marketing and better educated staff, tourism is a major source of employment growth and investment in underdeveloped areas of Serbia and investments into its development must be part of a strategy of balanced regional development.