Central monitoring system for tourism, Montenegro
Tourism is one of Montenegro’s most important economic sectors. However it seems that a large part of its activity is carried out without the knowledge of the authorities, as much of the work is undeclared. Therefore efforts are being made to develop a system that will enable clear monitoring of the tourism sector.
Tourism, which is regarded by the government as a strategic sector for Montenegro, is by nature difficult to regulate with regard to undeclared work activity. In the Montenegrin tourism industry, a very high number of foreign workers are engaged in the informal economy; in 2008, 59,000 permissions for foreigners to work were issued. The significance of this particular sector, accounting for over 25% of GDP, means it is particularly important that it is efficiently regulated and monitored. Furthermore, in their report the Montenegrin Ministry of Tourism and Environment (2008) argue that the share of tourism in GDP should be considered to be over 30% if undeclared activity is included. They also state that in Montenegro there are 120,000 beds available for tourists, according to MONSTAT. However, a study carried out by the International Institute for Tourism estimated the capacity to be 300,000, highlighting the number of unregistered establishments used for letting and therefore demonstrating the need for an integrated database.
Recognising the importance of this sector, the government has adopted legislation to assess this segment more accurately as well as implement an action plan towards developing tourism, where one of the objectives is to tackle undeclared work.
The specific objective of this project is to tackle undeclared work within the tourism industry through better monitoring and regulation.
To make the monitoring of undeclared work in the summer months more effective, a central monitoring system for touristic traffic has been developed. This enables the registration of tourist traffic and is operating in conjunction with the police and customs administration. With this new system tourists are registered electronically upon arrival to the country thereby making identification of undeclared work easier and more efficient. The registration system contains information about the number of tourists, the number of nights they stayed and where they stayed. Furthermore, there is a full registration of all items used for accommodation including small-scale bedroom renting and boats. Having such information all in one database that is accessible to the relevant bodies makes the regulation of undeclared work within the tourism industry easier and more efficient.
Alongside this, laws with regards to tourism have been updated. A tourist is now defined according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) definition: anyone who leaves their home location for more than 24 hours and less than a year and stays somewhere else overnight at least once is a tourist. Furthermore, it is irrelevant why the individual has left their residence, whether to visit relatives, friends or a holiday dwelling or their own. Holiday apartments and second homes and their users are now also assigned to the tourism sector, thereby obliging them to register and pay taxes.
The availability of these records and the obligation of those active in the tourism industry to register are intended to improve transparency and planning certainty for infrastructure and the ascertainment of carrying capacity (Montenegro Ministry of Tourism and Environment, 2008).
Outcome of evaluations; lessons and conclusions
Achievement of objectives
This project is at a very early stage so no evaluation is available.
Although only in initial stages, it seems as though this project has the potential to be transferred to other countries with high undeclared work within the tourism industry.
Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism
Montenegro Ministry of Tourism and Environment (2008), Montenegro Tourism Development Strategy to 2020, Podgorica.