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42 | MONTENEGRO WORDS | Sean Lightbown


REPORT


www.opp.org.uk |MARCH 2012


ast year, a study by the World Travel & Tourism Council and Oxford Economics concluded that the tiny country of Montenegro on the Mediterranean would be the fastest- growing tourism destination over the next ten years.


Mediterranean Pearl L


of natural beauty, beautiful beaches, organic produce and a rich programme of year-round entertainment.”


If this prediction proves correct, this will mean that by 2021, 36.3% of Montenegro’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be contributed to by travel and tourism. In terms of numbers, this would take the current contribution from €593.8 million to €1.9 billion. At the time, WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill praised Montenegro for “the huge achievements made by the government and Ministry of Tourism over the past ten years”. “Signifi cant progress has been made at putting into place a solid policy framework for sustainable tourism development and expansion into new niche markets,” he added. But what about overseas property? Where does this fi t in within the context? A lot of investment being made in that area, with one of the most talked about projects being Porto Montenegro on the coast. The plans for Porto Montenegro include a 630-berth marina with 130 beths for superyachts, as well as luxury apartments, hotels, spas, a casino, shopping areas and restaurants. Healthily, clients are coming from


all around Europe and other parts of the world to take properties in the development. “We have buyers from Switzerland, the UK, Canada, Australia, Greece, Netherlands, Czech Republic, the CIS, Serbia and Bulgaria,” says Colin Kingsmill, sales and marketing director of Porto Montenegro. But why Montenegro? “There is an emergence of the Eastern Mediterranean as the most popular cruising ground in Europe. We are aimed at those clients and owners who are looking for this new nautical lifestyle experience.” Kingsmill is also enthusiastic about the country’s lifestyle offering “an abundance


On top of this, Kingsmill believes that the country’s economy, its stable democracy, its business-friendly environment (with low corporate and income tax at 9%) and its signifi cant levels of foreign direct investment will add to its attractiveness. “The recent adopted laws on


spatial planning and building provide controlled, high quality construction and the simplification of related procedures further encourage new investment in high- end, quality development. Our sales velocity at Porto Montenegro is testimony to this.” The positive news emanating


from Porto Montenegro does not only benefi t the resort itself. Andrea Marstron, a partner at Montenegro Prospects, believes that this can work well for the country as a whole


“The Montenegrin legal system is also very accommodating for buyers from abroad”


in terms of putting it fi rmly on the tourism map. “Places like Porto Montenegro help to re-brand the country,” she says. “The types of property now are much better.” And for today’s more diligent consumer … they have to be, says Marston. “Developers have defi nitely had to improve their quality,” she says. “The market is more demanding and cheap doesn’t sell. They look for value rather than the one with the lowest price.” For Marston, the market - and the buyer – changed dramatically with the onset of the global recession four years ago. “The market as a whole was quite


until about 2004, when it all kicked off and a lot of British and Irish were buying,” she says. “However with the


Luxury | Projects like Porto Montenegro can put the country on the tourism map


recession we are now seeing a lot of Russians buying.” And what sort of properties are they buying? “Russians tend to go for very smart, new properties…they are not interested in the cottage-like, traditional properties,” she says. “They prefer the modern style.” However, there are issues, stemming from its geography and relative youth. “Montenegro wasn’t even an independent country until 2006,” Marston says. “It has suffered from a poor infrastructure but there is now a lot of investment to support housing and turning it into luxury developments.” She is excited as prices are now reasonable with the infrastructure in place. “In the Bay area,” she says, “You can get a two-bed place for €150,000. The prices are the equivalent now of what they were in 2005. Now though, the infrastructure is there.”


Peter Flynn, founder at Montenegrin- based agency ntRealty, agrees regarding the infrastructure improvement. “Programmes are in place for water and sewage. I can tell from living here a big difference from when I fi rst visited. Water used to be be cut off at regular intervals. Now this rarely happens.” Flynn is also very enthusiastic about the potential for Montenegro. But why now? And why is it growing so fast? “Initially tourism for Yugoslavia translated mostly to tourism for Croatia, and Montenegro got left behind.


Montenegro is lagging, so that is why it is growing faster. Prices exploded and are now levelling off to reasonable amounts. So now, several investors want to buy.” The Montenegrin legal system is


also very accommodating for buyers from abroad. “There are no visas needed for people from the EU,” says Marston. “It is very easy to buy, there are hardly any restraints.”


“The only barrier is for people who buy land over 5000 square metres,” says Flynn. “The law is that a foreigner can buy up to 5,000 square metres of land as a planned building is on site. Above that, you can buy through a company. There is also only 3% property tax.”


Russians are the predominant buyers here, he says. “Russian buyers are the main buyers. It’s only a three-hour fl ight away, and culturally it is quite similar.” However, Flynn adds, “I’m seeing


increasing interest from the US,” he says. “Americans will come here in a big way soon, for the moment they are just dabbling around. Investment-wise, Arab money is also coming in.”


“The prediction of growth here as been predicted several times. For this there has to be hotel beds and villas to get that, so people are starting to buy and build. Hopefully we will see steady property price growth, which we are already seeing.”


For somewhere that wasn’t even a recognised country until very recently, Montenegro is performing incredibly in terms of tourism and development. A recent study predicted that it would be the fastest-growing tourism destination over the next ten years ... and the overseas property industry is beginning to cotton on.


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