The opening ceremony of the 44th International Tourism Fair and the 18th International Fair of Hotel and Catering Equipment HORECA-EQUIPMENT was held at the Belgrade Fair in a fantastic atmosphere.
One day before officially opening the gates for visitors, a special program that marked the opening of the largest tourist fair both in the country and in the region, was organized in the presence of numerous domestic and foreign guests, including primarily the representatives of the People’s Republic of China, the partner country of this year’s fair.
Gathered under the slogan “Vacation is not hard”, around 350 exhibitors from 33 countries, including eight new countries from the African continent, will present themselves from 23rd to 26th February 2023, in halls 1, 1A and 4.
This year again, the Tourism Fair will present a large number of popular world destinations with an increasingly diverse tourist offer, authentic accommodation facilities adapted to modern tourists. The latest trends in the international tourism industry, as well as innovative concepts and perspectives in the development of the tourism business will be central topics that will bring together both business visitors and travel enthusiasts.
Traditionally, the most important travel agencies, associations and organizations, hotels, tourist centers, transport companies and international tour operators will take part in the fair.
The event started with a performance by Slobodan Trkulja and the Balkanopolis band, creative ambassadors of the national platform Serbia Creates.
The video prepared by the Tourist Organization of Serbia, “Experience Serbia”, presenting the natural beauty, a rich gastronomic offer, and hospitable people, which are all indisputable qualities in the promotion of the experience offered by Serbia as a tourist destination, was then displayed to the audience.
Mrs. Chen Bo, the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Serbia, one of the cradles of human civilization, said that there is a great prospect of tourism cooperation between China and Serbia, and that she is especially happy that China is a partner country of this year’s event.
“China and Serbia have unique advantages in achieving tourism cooperation. One is the abolition of visas, and the other is the establishment of direct flights”, said Chen Bo.
She also emphasized that she believes that the increase in the number of visits by Serbian tourists to China will strongly encourage tourism cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe, which will contribute to the increase of their cultural exchange and will promote the economic development of those countries.
“I hope that everyone will take advantage of this opportunity for better understanding and cooperation and to provide quality tourist programs”, said the Ambassador.
The Ambassador also thanked the Chinese delegation, especially the cities of Beijing and Ninhua, which responded to the invitation of the Serbian side for the implementation of the program within the deadline.
“I would like to point out that China and Serbia are geographically distant countries, but we only need to take a passport and we can go on a trip whenever we want. As the saying goes “Vacation is not hard”, said Chen Bo.
She added that she would like to see more Chinese tourists in Serbia and in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and invited friends from all over the world to visit China.
The promotional video “BEIJING & NINGBO” demonstrated how a country whose discoveries, inventions and philosophy shaped the world will be presented at the fair.
Addressing the audience, Shi Amping, the head of the Chinese delegation participating in the 44th International Tourism Fair in Belgrade, said that he hopes that tourism will become the backbone of strengthening friendship for all times and strengthening cooperation between Serbia and China.
“We come with a great desire, a desire that tourism in the world becomes like spring in full bloom. Allow me, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, to sincerely congratulate the opening of the International Fair and to express deepest thanks to the President Aleksandar Vučić and the Chinese Embassy in Serbia for the strong help and support provided to our delegation”, said Shi at the opening of the Fair.
He pointed out that China and Serbia are trusted friends and added that this friendship has a long history.
“The relations between our two countries, which have withstood the test of history in recent years under the strategic leadership of the two state leaders and guided by the “Belt and Road” initiative, show a strong momentum of development with concrete projects, fruitful cooperation and strengthened cultural exchange”, said Shi.
He pointed out that the Belgrade Tourism Fair, as the largest fair in Southeast Europe, plays an important role as a driver for the recovery and development of the world tourism industry.
He said that China, as a partner country of the International Fair, came well prepared for the event.
Presenting the Belgrade Fair as a potential host of the world exhibition EXPO 2027, the video – EXPO BELGRADE showed why the Belgrade Fair, a leader in its field of business and a driver of economic events in the country and in the region, is considered the most important fair institution in this part of the world. In its 85-year long history, it organized more than 3,000 fair events, attracted more than 60 million visitors, and presented more than 500,000 exhibitors from as many as 180 countries. If Serbia becomes the host of this event, more than 100 countries will have the opportunity to present the best ideas and achievements of their countries on the topic “Play for humanity: Sport and music for all”.
Having ceremonially opened the most significant tourist event in the region – the 44th International Tourism Fair in Belgrade and the 18th HORECA-OPREMA Hotel and Catering Equipment Fair, the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić said that everyone coming to Serbia will be welcome, and that in recent years great achievements were made, and income from tourism increased to 2.5 billion euros last year.
The President also announced that Serbia will fight for Belgrade to host the specialized Expo 2027, which would mean a tourism boom for our country.
Vučić pointed out that a lot of funds will be invested in the development of the tourist infrastructure so that we can host the exhibition, but also so that we could have large revenues from the development of tourism.
“It would have a huge significance for Serbia, huge revenues, a real tourism boom for our country. I estimate that we can be ahead of the others, ahead of Argentina, Minnesota in America, and our key competitor is Malaga in Spain, but I believe that we can beat them, since Malaga and Seville once hosted the big EXPO,” said Vučić.
Opening the Tourism Fair, he invited everyone to visit Serbia and extended his welcome to Chinese tourists.
He said that it is a special honor to have China as a partner country of this year’s fair, and he invited Chinese tourists to come in as large a number as possible, telling them that they are welcome as the closest and most sincere friends.
He emphasized that it is a special honor to have China as a partner country of this year’s fair and that more than 20 of their companies are participating.
Vučić pointed out that in the last few years Serbia has made great advancements in tourism and that in 2022 this industry earned 2.5 billion dollar revenues, which is 3.5 times more than 10 years ago.
As he said, the number of Chinese tourists has increased 30 times compared to the period 2012-2019, but one should not be satisfied with that, it must be “300 and 3,000 times” higher.
Vučić stated that in the first month and a half of this year, the number of foreign tourists arriving in Serbia increased by 53 percent, and overnight stays increased by 69 percent compared to the same period last year, and that “Serbia is the first in Europe in terms of the increase in the number of tourists.”
Today is an important day for us – said Vučić and quoted the statement of Confucius – “Wherever you go, go with all your heart”.
Due to the preciousness of the travel experience, this year the Tourism Fair will also present the latest trends in the international tourism industry, as well as innovative concepts and perspectives in the development of the tourism business.
The mission of the Tourism Fair remains connecting people, strengthening friendship, bringing destinations closer together, stimulating curiosity and opening new paths.