Unrest in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is causing many to holiday in Montenegro.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Podgorica -- 21/08/14
Tourism has increased by 5 percent this year in Montenegro, with much of the increase attributed to visitors from Ukraine. [AFP]
Montenegro is seeing an unexpected result from Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea -- the percentage of Ukrainian tourists visiting Montenegro's scenic spots since March has increased as people on holiday look for an alternative to Crimea.
About 100,000 tourists visited Montenegro for the past five months, which is 5 percent more than the previous year, but the biggest surprise in numbers is related to Ukrainian tourists. According to state's agency for statistics, the number of Ukrainian tourists increased by 124 percent compared to last year.
Bohdana Orynenko, 37, a teacher of fine arts in Kyiv, is spending the summer in the coastal town of Budva.
"My daughter and husband are here with me, but my entire family is in Ukraine, in various parts of the country. I am afraid for their lives. We listen to the news every day. It's not good. The international community should take some serious steps in order to stop the violence in our country," Orynenko told SETimes.
From official point of view, the number of tourists from Ukraine is increased because of the crisis. The refusal of many not to go to Crimea is a demonstration of patriotism by Ukrainian people, officials say.
"The Russian occupation of the Crimea turned this fantastic region to a disaster zone, without water, food, with lots of weapons, soldiers and Russian Cossacks who behave as bandits. In this situation Ukrainians don't want to visit Crimea. They are afraid of different provocations and repressions towards them because of speaking Ukrainian language," Volodymyr Tsybulnyk, chief charge d'affaires of the Ukrainian embassy in Montenegro, told SETimes.
He noted that Ukraine appreciates Montenegro for its position on support of the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, adding that official Kyiv is counting on further support of Montenegro.
"If you ask about specific assistance, taking into consideration existing capabilities of Montenegro, I would mention protection equipment, medical accessories, tents etc. But the most important thing that we need now is friendly support from Montenegro and its people," Tsybulnyk added.
Government data from this year showed that Montenegro was visited by 1.5 million tourists in 2013 and income from tourism was 721 million euros.
About 65,000 Ukrainians typically visit the country each year, but that doesn't take into account this year's increase. Only Serbia and Russia send more tourists to Montenegro each year.
Montenegrin authorities are making every effort to welcome Ukrainians who usually holiday in Crimea, the honorary consul of Montenegro in Ukraine, Dovgij Stanislav Oleksijovic, said in June.
"After Crimea joined Russia, Ukrainians are not able to rest on the peninsula. Every year a few million of them visit Crimea. One of the main challenges will be the opening of tourist offices, which will provide information to Ukrainians travelling to Montenegro," Oleksijovic said.
Danylo Kyrylov, 49, a construction worker from Dnepropetrovsk, said he came to work in Montenegro at the beginning of the year and that his work permit is expiring in December.
"I am now trying to arrange a job in Montenegro for some colleagues from Ukraine. I hope I will succeed. This crisis will not last forever. The Balkan people know what real crisis and war is. I am sure that we will learn from their example. I keep repeating that to the people in Ukraine every day. All sides need to lay down the weapons and sit around the table. That's the only solution," Kyrylov told SETimes.
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