Sea Dance, winner of the Best European Festival title and one of the most important festivals on the Mediterranean, which has brought the Montenegrin tourism economy over €60 million and priceless promotion all over the planet, will not be held on the Montenegrin coast this year.
This is due to the blockade of state institutions’ support for the festival, which was ordered by Agency for the Protection of Competition without any grounds, categorizing the previous cooperation of the state and the Municipality of Budva with the festival as “state aid,” although the matter is clearly one of commercial cooperation relating to the production of a music festival, aimed at promoting tourism and the destination of Budva.
This is clearly and transparently defined in the Agreement that the Municipality of Budva concluded with the festival, in which there are specific obligations of both parties and which was adopted by the Assembly of the Municipality of Budva in 2015, following nearly a year of extensive public discussion.
EXIT’s festivals have such commercial cooperation agreements with state authorities in many countries around the world, including several countries of the European Union, whose regulations Agency refers to in this case. Among them is Sea Star festival in Croatia, which was held in Umag last weekend with great success in front of over 40,000 people and with significant support from the City of Umag and the Croatian Tourist Board.
Upon initiating this procedure, Agency for Protection of Competition ordered Municipality of Budva, Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, National Tourism Organization of Montenegro, and Tourism Organization of the Municipality of Budva to suspend all cooperation with Sea Dance Festival, thereby halting its operations only a few months before the event was scheduled to take place.
Bearing in mind that over the previous nine years, no government agency has made even the slightest comment of this nature and that the procedure was initiated only now, before the upcoming elections — the whole situation points to pre-election political maneuvers, which the music festival does not want to be involved in or become collateral damage of.
“We are sorry to disappoint our many fans in Montenegro, but unfortunately, it is impossible to hold Sea Dance festival on the Montenegrin coast in these conditions. The festival has already received offers to host this year’s edition in several countries, among them Croatia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, all thanks to the reputation and income that Exit’s festivals bring to the destinations where they are held,” said Dušan Kovačević, founder of EXIT and Sea Dance Festival, adding that we will soon know where Sea Dance Festival takes place this year, and that a definitive decision on relocation will be made after discussions with partners from Municipality of Budva.
The Sea Dance festival has so far brought tens of millions of euros to the Montenegrin tourism economy, while the document adopted by the Government of Montenegro in 2014 predicted that Sea Dance would bring Montenegrin tourism over €100 million by 2025 and “significantly contribute to the improvement of business, not only in the tourism sector but also the overall economy of Montenegro.” Sea Dance is the first festival that EXIT held outside of Serbia, whereas last year, the EXIT team organized 26 events in 10 countries throughout Europe and the world.
It will remain forever etched in Montenegro’s festival history that, after its first edition, Sea Dance received the most prestigious award for “Best European Festival” n the category of up to 40,000 visitors per day and that the biggest Montenegrin festival has ranked among the ten best festivals in Europe in the same category every year since.
A number of major international media outlets, such as CNN, New York Times, Guardian, Metro, Daily Mirror, and many others, described Sea Dance as one of the top festivals in the Mediterranean and regularly encouraged millions of readers to visit Montenegro and Sea Dance, thereby enhancing the tourism potential of Budva and Montenegro, and presenting the region as one of the world’s top event tourism destinations.
Sea Dance brought some of the world’s biggest music stars to Montenegro, including The Prodigy, Jamiroquai, David Guetta, Skrillex, Underworld, Fatboy Slim, John Newman, Sean Paul, Robin Schulz, Boris Brejcha, Tale of Us, Sven Väth, Nina Kraviz, Amelie Lens, Maceo Plex, Richie Hawtin, Rudimental, Róisín Murphy, Hurts, Lost Frequencies, Nile Rodgers, Mahmut Orhan, as well as the biggest regional acts.
During the past nine years, they have built unbreakable bonds with local and international audiences, cultivating friendships, creating memories, and developing emotions that will reverberate along Montenegro’s Adriatic coastline for a long time.