Corona virus and tourism: Under what conditions foreigners enter Serbia – BBC News in Serbian

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Although you have been vaccinated, a negative PCR test is required to return to Serbia from most countries

“We were scared because of the arrival, but in the end we didn’t have to show anything at the border – we were very surprised,” is how Sim Decker from the Netherlands describes his visit to Serbia.

As a rule, foreigners, depending on the country they come from, should have proof of vaccination, coronavirus or a negative PCR test.

“The conditions of entry are very liberal, and they are all positively surprised by the fact that it is so easy to enter Serbia,” licensed tourist guide Dragan Ponjevic told the BBC in Serbian.

He says that a large number of tourists are from countries where epidemiological measures were much stricter, such as France, the Netherlands and Germany.

“They told me – you are all outside, everything works for you, it’s wonderful, we want to live here – that’s how they perceive Serbia,” he said.

Who can enter Serbia?

Citizens of all countries of the world are allowed to enter Serbia, if they meet the conditions.

They are listed in instructions which is on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and passengers are obliged to have:

  • negative PCR test, not older than 48 hours from the date of issue of the results;
  • vaccination certificate or Digital Green Certificate valid for citizens of Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the Czech Republic;
  • a certificate of coronavirus, which begins to be valid two weeks after the first test, but must not be older than six months;

Passengers from the United States are also recognized for a negative antigen test.

The Minister of Health, Zlatibor Lončar, brought it on July 9 instruction how to deal with travelers coming to a country where there is a large number of corona infected with the virus.

For now, the only country on that list is India – from where the new Delta strain of coronavirus has spread to another 100 countries, and the number of infected is large.

Everything you need to know about the new Delta strain of coronavirus:

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Due to that, Indians were prevented from entering some countries.

The instruction of the Minister of Health followed after a large number of “tourists” from this country were noticed in Belgrade.

So is Badrusek, one of the passengers from India, for the BBC in Serbian said in early July that he came to Serbia “for transit”, on his way to Saudi Arabia.

Another tourist from India, Sahel says he came for 14 days to travel to New Zealand.

“We have to spend so much in a country with a low epidemiological risk,” he said.

Tourist from India Sahel

Serbia is an ideal transit country for them, because they do not need visas.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabić she denied existence of the so-called “quarantine tourism” and reminded that all foreign citizens must enter a negative PCR test or vaccination certificate when entering Serbia.

Both domestic and foreign citizens coming from India must have one of the required documents to enter Serbia.

However, as of July 9, the only supplement is a seven-day quarantine, with mandatory testing within 24 hours.

Foreigners who come from India and do not have any of the required documents will not be allowed to enter Serbia.

In addition, they must first apply for “epidemiological surveillance of foreign nationals” through the site, and display the email as a confirmation.

Also, they have to fill in and sign Statement of consent on accepting quarantine measures at home.

The Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović Batut” is responsible for list of countries with a particular risk of spreading coronavirus.

When do these restrictions not apply?

To those who are in transit (no longer than 12 hours), as well as to the citizens of nearby countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, Northern Macedonia and Montenegro.

The representative of the Initiative of Tourist Agencies of Serbia (TAS), Dragan Subotic, told the BBC in Serbian that the largest number of tourists come from countries for which we have no restrictions, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and some from Albania.

Those who are not citizens of these countries, but have been granted temporary residence or permanent residence, can enter Serbia under the condition that they submit a negative PCR or antigen test to the public health institute of the municipality where they are located within 48 hours.

The same applies to minors aged 12 to 18, while younger ones can cross the border without any restrictions.

Other exceptions relate to:

  • Croatian citizens studying in Serbia;
  • crew members of goods motor vehicles carrying goods or passengers, as well as the crew of ships carrying goods;
  • crew members of buses, trains and airplanes performing international passenger transport;
  • citizens of neighboring countries engaged in agriculture in the border area;
  • citizens of neighboring countries from the border area who are employed in Serbia.

How are tourists in Serbia?

Subotic estimates that the number of foreign tourists is 90 percent lower compared to 2019, ie the year before the beginning of the corona virus pandemic.

“Now, tourists in Serbia are measured in hundreds, not counting the visitors of the recently held music festival Exit in Novi Sad,” he states.

A radio station in the Netherlands rewarded listeners with free tickets for Exit, which is why Sim Decker also visited Serbia.

He crossed the border without any problems, so much so that no one asked him for confirmation of a negative PCR test, a previous illness or vaccination.

“The only time we had to show proof was when we took the Exit tickets,” he told the BBC in Serbian.

It seemed to him that the corona virus did not exist in Novi Sad.

“We didn’t have to wear masks anywhere, which surprised us, but we liked it, honestly.

“I will definitely return to Serbia again,” he added.

Licensed tourist guide Dragan Ponjevic says that Serbia is still an exotic destination for some and that they are not familiar with the facilities it offers.

“Now, those who wanted to travel are coming with a purpose, with the intention of using the moment while they can travel because everyone is afraid of new measures and closures,” he states.

Subotic says from experience that tourists are satisfied because they do not feel pressure.

“They do not have as many measures as in the countries they come from, so they are more than satisfied with their stay in Serbia,” said Subotic.

He states that the largest number of tourists come from the region, some EU countries, the Middle East, as well as from Turkey.

“These are passengers who are traditionally facing our country due to the non-existence of a visa regime for entering Serbia.”

“Most of them come independently, without the mediation of travel agencies,” he states.

He explains that they mostly come to Belgrade, and that sometimes they go on a trip outside the capital.

“However, they are mostly tied to Belgrade and it is a stay of three to a maximum of four nights – from Wednesday or Thursday to Sunday – which means that they are ‘weekend tourists’,” says Subotic.

In addition to large cities, popular for the multitude of facilities they offer, mountain tourism came to life during the pandemic.

“These are smaller groups of up to eight people, who, with one guide, make a ‘tour’ of Serbia and visit natural beauties,” says Ponjevic.

He also says that a large number of domestic tourists travel, and that the most common destinations in the region – Bulgaria, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina – as well as Turkey and Greece.

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