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News 23 May 13

Tour Operators Cash in on Tito Legend

Tour operators across the former Yugoslavia have spied a lucrative and very capitalist opportunity in the cult surrounding the old Socialist dictator.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Josip Broz Tito

A tour based on the personality cult surrounding Yugoslavia's late president, Josip Broz Tito, was agreed last week at a regional tour operators’ meeting in Belgrade.

“We have been searching for a product that will differentiate our region, especially because the Balkans since the [1990s] wars lost some of its attraction,” said Snazana Jovanovska, head of Macedonian Hospitality and Tourism Association, after the Belgrade meeting. "Our goal is to create an original story that will sell.

“This is not about politics and the idea should not be associated with it. Tito is a celebrity and I believe if we promote it well, we could make a really interesting tour,” Jovanovska added.

The meeting was attended by tourist associations from six former Yugoslav states, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro.

The initial plan is for the tour to last from 11 to 15 days, offering travellers several days’ stay in each country.

The tour may include visits to Tito’s birth place in Kumrovec in Croatia, his presidential palace in Belgrade in Serbia, and his villa on Lake Ohrid in Macedonia.

Tourists will also sample Tito’s favourite dishes, listen to old Yugoslav music from his era and gain insight into his most-loved places across the former state.

Ranko Petorvic, the founder of the first Tito-themed restaurant in Skopje, Kaj Marsalot (At the Marshal’s Place) also had a few ideas to offer.

“A youth brigade could simulate collective construction work endeavours. Young people could participate in sharing the socialist ideals of unity, friendship, mutual help and humanity…  A scouts’ camp could be made and socialist songs sung around the bonfire,” Petrovic told the newspaper Nova Makedonija.

“It would be good to stage an exhibition with photos from the work endeavours… and at the end of the tour, tourists could be brought to Tito’s villas in Skopje and in Ohrid,” he said.

Because of his non-aligned diplomatic stance, Tito was admired by many in the West as a benign dictator, and was praised for maintaining peaceful coexistence between the peoples of Yugoslavia.

He was the only successful defector from the Soviet bloc, which he quit in 1948 in order pursue a neutral foreign policy during the Cold War. The country fell apart just over ten years after his death in 1980.

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