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SVILAJNAC, A MODERN CITY WITH GREAT TRADITION: Mayor Predrag Milanovic speaks for Come to Serbia

Small but cosy. Serbian, but king of Austrian. Such is Svilajnac. Modern and traditional, clean and hospitable. 110 kilometers from Belgrade, or about an hour by car.

The president of the municipality of Svilajnac, Predrag Milanović, in an interview for Come to Serbia, says that they try to enrich their tourist offer from season to season. They quite succeed in that.

The year for us was specific in many ways, primarily difficult due to the coronavirus epidemic, but if anything good can be taken from the pandemic, it is that people have discovered what Serbia has to offer. How much more successful was the tourism in Svilajnac this year compared to the previous ones?

– In the previous year, it seems to me, we have learned to appreciate more what we have. So domestic tourism has really gained in importance. Svilajnac is trying to expand and enrich its tourist offer from season to season. The Nature center is something by which we are now recognizable, but this year, with the purchased ticket, all visitors could enter the city pools, which have been completely reconstructed and arranged according to modern standards. In addition, with the ticket for Nature center, tourists could rent bicycles for free and tour the city. In addition to these additional facilities, the Center itself has redesigned and supplemented some of its permanent exhibits this year, in addition to some guest exhibitions.

Such as?

This year, the French Embassy presented its traveling exhibition “Caravan for Climate” in our Nature Center, where the Ambassador of France to Serbia, HE Jean-Louis Falconi, personally opened this exhibition.

The Natural History Museum is a synonym for Svilajnac and you immediately mentioned it yourself. How many visitors a year come to see it?

The nature center started working in 2015, and since then, the number of visitors has been growing every year. We can say that the number is on average about 100,000 visitors a year. Unfortunately, with the introduction of the state of emergency in the Republic of Serbia, the Nature Center did not work for a certain period, which certainly resulted in certain losses. However, after the abolition of the state of emergency and the promotion of domestic tourism, the Nature Center in in the previous period had an increase in the number of individual visits, which to some extent compensated for organized student excursions. For example, in August alone, the number of visitors was more than 11,000.

Who comes the most? Are they families with children, excursions?

The Center is adapted to all ages and a wide range of interests. So, organized student excursions and, of course, families with children come to visit, but also various associations, organizations, people from the science sector, celebrities and many others. Indeed, the profile of visitors is as diverse as the offer of the center itself.

Are there foreing visitors? What are their impressions?

Yes, there are. The Nature Center cooperates with various foreign entities. In addition, more and more foreigners are visiting Serbia and Svilajnac as tourists. What we notice is that they leave with a positive impression, but the real indicator of our quality is that such visitors come back with their friends, and that is proof that we are doing well.

Svilajnac is small, but very “cosy”. What should a tourist see when visiting your city? Miljko’s monastery is a great place to see, the house of Stevan Sindjelic…

Our city, it is often said, resembles small towns in Austria and Germany and we are very proud to be able to compare ourselves to such developed countries. Svilajnac is a town that combines modern and traditional. In addition to the modern building of the Nature Center, in Svilajnac you can also visit the House of Stevan Sindjelić, which dates from the 19th century.

Is rural and religious tourism developed in your municipality?

For fans of religious tourism, Svilajnac is especially interesting because of the Resava Holy Mountain, which consisted of numerous monasteries and churches on the banks of the Velika Morava and Resava rivers. According to the traditions of these endowments, there used to be twelve, but several monasteries have been preserved to this day: Miljko’s monastery, Zlatenac monastery, Tomić monastery, Dobradhevo monastery, Monastery of The Holy Mother of God and the Half-wooden church.

How important is the transport infrastructure for tourism? It cannot be overlooked that at the entrance to Svilajnac there is an old bridge which makes traffic much more difficult. Do you have plans with that?

This year, a complete reconstruction of the Svilajnac-Markovac road in the length of 6 kilometers was done. The first section, about 2.5 km long, is located on the territory of the municipality of Svilajnac. The value of the investment on the territory of our municipality is around one million euros, while the value of the entire investment is around 2.5 million euros. The works were financed by the World Bank loan through the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. In addition to the asphalting of the regional road, the asphalting of the bridge over the Velika Morava, which is located at the very entrance to Svilajnac, was done in cooperation with PZP “Kragujevac”, which is working on the maintenance of this road. The bridge on the Morava is a bottleneck at the entrance to Svilajnac, and this bridge was previously reconstructed, to this extent, 32 years ago when wooden planks were replaced with asphalt. At that time, the reconstruction took about six months.

Considering that, in addition to significant export brands already operating in Svilajnac, three more new foreign factories have started their operations in Svilajnac this year, I think it is time for Svilajnac to get a new bridge with a bypass, which should be done as part of contruction of the “Vožd Karadjordje” highway.

We will remind you that Svilajnac unfortunately suffered the most during the floods. The municipality has worked significantly on remediation and flood defense solutions. Is the city safe now?

Svilajnac was one of the cities that suffered the most during the May floods, but today, the people of Svilajnac sleep peacefully. At the end of October, together with H. E. Sam Fabrizi, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, in Svilajnac was marked the completion of works on the reconstruction of the Resava riverbed, which were carried out within the European Union project “Reconstruction of flood protection infrastructure”. The project was financed by the European Union and the Republic of Austria, and was implemented by the Austrian Development Agency. This project included works on the reconstruction of the Resava riverbed in the length of about 6 kilometers in the city and an additional 5 kilometers in the atriums of the villages of Sedlare and Subotica.

What is the value of the project?

The value of the river regulation project on the territory of the municipality of Svilajnac is around 3.3 million euros. We are now introducing this project into the second phase, which is the construction of a new irrigation system. The project is worth about 400 million dinars, it will be financed from the EBRD loan, and it will cover 1,050 hectares of land for irrigation. The necessity of developing irrigation systems is conditioned by droughts, which are more and more frequent and which take on the character of natural disasters. The construction of a modern irrigation system that will contribute to safer agricultural production gives a chance to agricultural producers to be more competitive on the market with their products.

(Come to Serbia)

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