Balkans Tourism on the Rise
The region, home to beaches, mountains, and wineries, is getting attention beyond already popular Croatia.
Tourism in the Balkans is booming: According to a 2017 World Tourism Organization report, tourism in the region is up, with Georgia, Slovakia, Romania, and Lithuania seeing double-digit tourism growth and Bulgaria reporting a 16 percent increase in inbound tourists. With such growth currently, tourism is likely to continue to rise.
The Balkans’ geography has plenty to offer timeshare owners, with white-sand beaches, vast green mountains, and glasslike lakes. “The footprint of vacation ownership resorts development is still small in the Balkan countries,” says Vassilis Themelidis, regional director of business development at RCI. “However, countries like Croatia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Albania have a great potential to develop mixed-use concepts to attract both the domestic and international holidaymakers.”
Millennial travelers on the hunt for experiences may especially be attracted to the region, according to Helen Foster, marketing manager of publications at RCI Europe. Many resorts in the Balkans offer vacations such as agritourism, vineyard tours and tastings, cooking classes, 4×4 Jeep safari adventures, stargazing, and dogsledding. “Resorts now partner with local attractions—golf, equestrian, wineries, tour operators…to help drive revenues through the local businesses in the vicinity of the resorts,” she says.
Growth and forward momentum for the region’s tourism is in turn driving vacation ownership, Themelidis adds. Countries where tourism helps drive gross domestic product, such as Spain or Malta, are those with good airports and access to tourist markets such as Western Europe as well as with natural attractions, Foster says—all things found in the Balkans. And when all of those things come together, “Timeshare does help to drive tourism growth,” Foster says.
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