NewsBalancing tourism growth and environmental preservation: Insights from Montenegro's spatial planning discourse

Balancing tourism growth and environmental preservation: Insights from Montenegro’s spatial planning discourse

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Maintaining a delicate equilibrium between tourism investments and environmental sustainability remains a paramount concern in Montenegro. This sentiment reverberated from the recent thematic session of the Tourism Association Committee within the Chamber of Commerce, held as part of the public discourse on Montenegro’s Draft Spatial Plan.

Recognizing spatial planning as a linchpin for fostering long-term, sustainable frameworks for social, territorial, and economic advancement, the Chamber of Commerce, in tandem with the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Urbanism, and State Property, convened thematic roundtables. These sessions, designed as committee meetings with expanded participation, aim to inform stakeholders about planned spatial solutions, their impacts, and elicit feedback to refine proposed measures.

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“Leveraging the guidelines outlined in the plan, our collective aspiration is to extend the tourism season, diversify offerings, and elevate our tourism sector to unparalleled heights,” remarked Luka Bulatović, Deputy Chairman of the Committee.

Nikola Vujović, Vice President of the Chamber, echoed this sentiment, urging entrepreneurs to leverage these sessions to enrich the quality of pivotal planning documents, thus shaping the future trajectory of spatial development.

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Striking a balance between sustainability and tourism investment emerged as a central theme. Svetlana Šljivančanin, representing the Ministry of Tourism, Sustainable Development, and Northern Development, underscored the imperative of harmonizing sustainability with tourism ventures. She highlighted Montenegro’s pioneering commitment to strategies like the Smart Specialization Strategy, emphasizing sustainable tourism as a linchpin for future growth.

In parallel, stakeholders emphasized the importance of tailored spatial plans for protected areas. Svetlana Jovanović, leading the Working Group for the Spatial Plan, emphasized the need for nuanced approaches, advocating for development within protected zones while safeguarding environmental integrity. This sentiment was echoed by entrepreneurs, particularly those operating within national parks, who lamented bureaucratic hurdles hindering sustainable development initiatives.

The discourse also touched upon the need for regulatory reforms to incentivize sustainable practices and discourage short-term gains. Dragan Marković, a member of the Working Group, emphasized the need for robust environmental safeguards, cautioning against unchecked development in ecologically sensitive areas.

Furthermore, stakeholders stressed the importance of diversifying Montenegro’s tourism portfolio. Siniša Topalović, another member of the Working Group, emphasized the need for innovative accommodations and experiences, particularly in rural and less developed regions, to enhance the country’s tourism competitiveness.

The session also addressed broader challenges such as transportation infrastructure, workforce management and seasonal fluctuations. From improving connectivity to addressing labor shortages, participants highlighted the multifaceted nature of sustainable tourism development.

In conclusion, the session underscored the pivotal role of spatial planning in shaping Montenegro’s tourism landscape. While challenges persist, stakeholders remain committed to forging a path towards sustainable, inclusive growth. As Montenegro navigates this complex terrain, collaboration between government agencies, industry players, and civil society will be indispensable in charting a course towards a prosperous, sustainable future.

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