The 45th International Tourism Fair was ceremoniously opened at the Belgrade Fair. The gates for visitors are open since Thursday, 22 February, starting at 10 o’clock, and a rich exhibition program will present over 400 exhibitors from more than 27 countries.

Greece is the Partner Country, and the opening ceremony was attended by Olga Kefalogiani, the Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Greece, who spoke optimistically about a shared vision for the future of tourism.

“The friendship between our two nations is rooted in our common history, cultural ties, struggle for freedom, and our aspirations for a secure future,” said Olga Kefalogiani.

“The International Tourism Fair is one of the most significant tourism events in our region, a global gathering that provides an opportunity for countries and participants not only to promote their tourism offerings but also to communicate, collaborate, make partnerships, and build strong relationships. And that is precisely the essence of tourism,” said Kefalogiani.

As she noted, together we can use the power of tourism to initiate positive changes in our region and build a brighter, more resilient future for our nations.

“We are grateful for the strong support of our Serbian friends in furthering tourism in Greece and look forward to hosting them in all the beautiful parts of Greece this year as well. I believe that Serbia and Greece share a common vision for the future of tourism,” Kefalogiani said.

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić inaugurated the 45th International Tourism Fair in Belgrade.

“Welcome to Belgrade and Serbia, we sincerely look forward to your stay in our country,” said the President of Serbia. “Sokobanja, Soko grad, you come old, you leave young, although we all knew this, we didn’t know that Nušić was the creator of these verses. A tourist sees what he came to see. Of those 2.1 million foreign tourists who came to our country, they came with the idea that they are in a beautiful, interesting, and above all, safe place.”

Vučić presented statistical data from the World Tourism Organization on the successes of Serbian tourism.

“Serbia was the first destination in the world last year in terms of the growth rate of revenue from foreign tourists, with a rate of 79 percent. FX inflow from tourism amounted to a record of 2.55 billion euros, which is one billion and 112 million euros more than in 2012. Last year we had 4.2 million tourist arrivals and 12.4 million overnight stays, which is more or double compared to the previous ten years. This year we have recorded an increase in arrivals, by about three percent, and the number of overnight stays by 19 percent compared to the same period last year. All this should mean that we have done a lot, but we need to do much more because I am not satisfied with the speed at which we are delivering results. Lots of things are waiting – marinas, ports, beaches, cycling and hiking trails, we have hardly finished any of that infrastructure yet. Many more roads and railways, much more needs to be done at our airports, not only in Belgrade but also in Niš and at Čačak-Kraljevo airport. The number of passengers at Nikola Tesla Airport was almost eight million, which is even 2.5 times more than in 2012 when we had 3.36 million passengers for the whole year. Is that enough? It is not. Not even 10 million passengers will be enough. Our ambitions are much greater. We have a beautiful country. We haven’t even shown it to ourselves and our people yet,” Vučić said.

Vučić noted that in the past decade, 126 hotels have been built, bringing the total to 423 in Serbia.

Some would say more than a quarter, almost 30 percent. Have we built a lot? We haven’t. We had to do more, we had to encourage the private sector more vigorously, and I am confident that both they and we could earn much more. And I tell you now that we need another hundred new hotels – said Vučić.

He also mentioned that many things will be done for EXPO 2027.

– We will present the country as a place of innovation, modern technologies, a leader in artificial intelligence. That event changes the future of our country. We will have to build many more museums, strengthen our offerings in the cultural sphere, but also in the sphere of what represents unity tourism, tourism attracting those who want to spend their money, and the fact that we will earn more must be a real incentive, and let’s say, something on which we will base our future actions. And not just in Belgrade, but also in Lebane, in Caričin Grad, on Kablar, in Zaječar, Kostolac, Niš, on the roads of the Roman emperors. We will also have to build a new natural history museum. Our great Nikola Tesla will get a museum truly worthy of that greatest colossal name in world science. Gondolas will soon connect Zlatibor with Pribojska banja, Goč with Vrnjačka banja. There are 500 exhibitors from 27 countries standing before the visitors. Greece is our Partner Country, I would say – a favorite destination for Serbian tourists – said Vučić.

“I declare the Tourism Fair open, enjoy,” Vučić concluded.

Also present at the ceremonial opening were the Minister of Tourism Husein Memić, Minister of Construction Goran Vesić, Minister of Justice Maja Popović, Minister of Education Slavica Đukić Dejanović, Minister of Agriculture Jelena Tanasković, Minister for Family Care Darija Kisić, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Petar Petković, Director of the Tourist Organization of Serbia Marija Labović, Director of the Tourist Organization of Belgrade Miodrag Popović, presidents of municipalities, as well as representatives of the Republic of Srpska…

The ceremony of the grand opening was concluded with a reminder of the bright moments of Serbian history and the song “Tamo Daleko”.

This year at the Tourism Fair under the slogan “The Adventure Begins Here!” in halls 1, 1A, and 4, traditional participants will be the most significant tourist agencies, associations and organizations, hotels, tourist centers, transport companies, and international tour operators.

This year at the Tourism Fair, Cambodia, Ecuador, Saint Lucia, Libya are participating for the first time, and the countries returning to participate are islands of Indonesia, Cuba, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Popular and favourite destinations continuously present at the fair will be there this year as well:  Turkey, Greece, Montenegro, Tunisia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Cameroon, Gabon, Namibia and Cyprus.

The Tourism Fair takes place from Thursday, 22 February to Sunday, 25 February 2024, and simultaneously, under the slogan “Be my guest” the 19th International Fair of Catering Equipment HORECA is organized in halls 2A and 2C.