No-visa to be a game changer

With a no-visa scheme for Indians, Serbia is all set to boost the arrival numbers from India, claims Vladimir Maric, Ambassador of Serbia to India.

Nisha Verma

Vladimir Maric, Ambassador of Serbia to India, believes that India is currently one of the fastest growing outbound markets in the world, and this is what they currently want to leverage. “Serbia is a country where tourism is a significant aspect of our economy. Having maintained very strong relations with India since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, we are keen to work with the country on a long-term basis with an aim to increasing the number of Indian travellers to Serbia in the future,” he said.

A great step in this direction was taken last year when Serbia abolished the visa for Indians visiting Serbia. “We have abolished visas for Indian citizens in September 2017. This means that Indian citizens do not require a visa of any kind—no e-visa, visa on arrival and applications that need to be filled prior to the trip or any fee. As an Indian citizen, one only needs to pick up the passport, book the flight and hotel, and make the trip. That’s all that is needed,” he informed.

Serbia’s abolition of visas for Indians since September 2017 means that they do not require a visa of any kind—no e-visa, visa on arrival and applications that need to be filled prior to the trip. As an Indian, one only needs to pick up the passport, book the flight and hotel, and make the trip

In fact, Maric said that until last year, they did not even have a separate statistical record for India, as the number of arrivals was very low from here to Serbia. “However, as of this year, we keep records for Indian citizens as a separate group and in the first quarter, we have 2000 Indian visitors, which is a considerable number for a country of our size. We only have a population of 8 million people. However, the way things are proceeding, I would sound slightly ambitious if I say that we would be happy with 10,000 arrivals from India in 2018,” he added.

Apart from the no-visa regime, Maric put forth his opinions on Serbia as a destination. “We have a lot to offer in our cities. Belgrade, the capital, has been voted as one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. We have a very vibrant and dynamic night life, affordable prices and great value for money.”

However, what is needed now is to make Indians aware of the offering in Serbia, said Maric. For the same, national tourism organisation of Serbia organised a Fam trip for Indian journalists to Serbia in association with Nijhawan Group.

Commenting on the same, Yogeeta Sharma, PR & Marketing Manager, Nijhawan Group, said, “Recently, we did an ad hoc activity with the national tourism organisation of Serbia. The three-night four-day trip allowed visitors to explore all the activities and sightseeing which are suitable for all the age groups in India. There is a need for awareness among the Indians about Serbia.”

Maric informed that the tourism authority coordinates on a regular basis with the travel trade in India. Apart from that, they are also looking at having Indian films to be shot in Serbia. “There is a 25 per cent cashback on shooting films and advertisements in Serbia. In fact, with no visa required for the staff and crew, shoots can be planned early without any hassle. The producers can get in touch with the filming centres in Serbia as well since we have good pre and post production teams,” revealed Maric.

In fact, 2019 would see a lot of activities by Serbia in India, as the tourism board will be appointing a representative in India next year, revealed Maric.

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