Montenegro – The New Monaco?
- Posted by Ed Ewer
Montenegro – The new Monaco?
During a recent trip to Montenegro a number of people advised us that Montenegro is going to be the new Monaco. Do I agree? Well not really……..
However, I don’t say this in a negative way. In fact, quite the opposite. There are some similarities of course. The fabulous Porto Montenegro development with its 5 star hotel, 600+ berth marina and a sprawling (and growing) footprint of high end accommodation, retail and dining along with a growing range of events catering to all tastes, does feel quite ‘Monaco’. Look out from the marina however and you see one of the most naturally beautiful stretches of water in the world. Crystal clear water, beautiful greenery and an incredibly busy waterway frequented by anything from a sailing dinghy to a cruise ship. It’s far more like St Barths or Antibes than Monaco.
Plus, more major investment is incoming. Both the cruise and superyacht industries continue to invest in Montenegro focussing mainly on the Bay of Kotor, Tivat and Bijela. Luxury appartments, high end marinas and Michelin-starred restaurants are all appearing, building increased desire from the super-rich to visit in place of the heavily over-populated French Riviera. With flights from most of Europe under 2 hours and with an international airport at the waters edge its also easily accessible too.
For a long time, Porto Montenegro was the only major yachting centre in the region, however there is now also the picturesque Portonovi Marina with its luxury surroundings and soon they’ll be joined by Adriatic 42, the largest (by single site square meterage) refit facility in the world. A joint venture between Porto Montenegro and Drydocks World, the facility is due to formally open for business in October, with capacity to accept yachts and small cruise ships up to 250m alongside and up to 200m on its recently delivered floating dock. The site will employ 200+ direct staff, many of which are hoped will be local, as well as lead to extensive local infrastructure development to facilitate crew through winter refit and layup periods.
This does lead us on to the achilles heel of Montenegro however. Infrastructure and supply chain. With a total country population of around 450,000, no major road networks and shock horror, no fast food or Amazon Prime, Montenegro is still a developing nation. Tivat Airport only operates around 5 commercial flights a day and not to any major European hubs at present, meaning that those in the yachting sector can’t get there quickly or easily.
That said, it is a hugely attractive place to set up a business. The government incentivise international investment and business setup and both income and corporation tax are some of the lowest in Europe. With the growing superyacht visitor numbers, it should represent a cost effective option for some of the bigger brands to establish an outpost and to start servicing the needs of the luxury yachting world. Early adopters will no doubt see some strong returns. Currently rental costs and labour are way cheaper than the usual yachting hubs and there is a genuine willingness from the locals to become a part of the yachting sector.
There are also a number of individuals working closely within the maritime education sector to drive awareness of yachting careers. The nearby university offers a naval architecture degree, Warsash Maritime Academy have a site here and one of the most advanced bridge training setups in the world is here. Plus conversations are ongoing on developing a yachtbuilding apprenticeship for the skilled trades men and women of tomorrow.