The hospitality sector is among the most profitable investment in the Balkans.
By Misko Taleski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 02/03/13
Twenty hotels are planned to be built in Skopje over the next two years. [Misko Taleski/SETimes]
Increasing demand for hotel services in Skopje over the past two years has prompted a building boom by investors, yielding a much-desired gain for the hospitality and construction sectors in Macedonia.
"The hotel business in Skopje is expanding due to the continual increase in foreign tourists. We expect the trend to continue both for individual and group visits," Ksenija Milosevska, manager of Skopje's Hotel Karpos, told SETimes.
Twenty new hotels are expected to be completed in Skopje in the next two years, in addition to the existing 41.
"Investment in the tourist campaigns we started in the media is bearing its first fruits. We expect 250,000 additional tourists in the next five years," Vladimir Pesevski, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said.
The government is attracting investors as part of its land sale policy by offering prices of one euro for a square meter of land. Investors have six years to finish construction from the time of land purchase.
"According to regulations, investors are required to start building in the nine months after the land purchase," Dragan Simonovski, spokesperson for the transportation ministry, told SETimes.
Between three and five luxury hotels will be built along the left bank of the Vardar River, which runs through Skopje, and one near the city's park. Five additional hotels will be built on and around Kale Hill overlooking Skopje.
"It is obvious that Macedonia is making a serious attempt to become a tourist and business destination," Aleksandar Ivanovski, owner of Develop Group, which is building a Marriott Hotel in Macedonia Square, said.
Experts said the growth of tourist numbers is due to the Skopje 2014 project, the city's nightlife and affordable leisure activities.
"The Skopje 2014 project changed the face and beat of the capital. Tourists now come to stay and explore Macedonia, rather than stay briefly en route to other countries," Macedonia Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska told SETimes.
"Many new monuments are drawing tourists … like the ski lift going to the Millennium Cross on Mount Vodno. Many chose to combine their stay in Skopje with visits to the pristine countryside, wineries, archaeological sites and other attractions," Kanceska-Milevska added.
To further stimulate the tourist sector, the government increased the list of countries for which it provides subsidies to tour organisers.
"In 2013, in addition to the Benelux countries, we added Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia Ukraine, UAE and Japan to the list," Aleksandar Georgiev, government spokesperson, told SETimes.