We are forced to react to the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism’s announcement that there is no legal way of providing financial assistance to Sea Dance Festival and point out that this is not true. The de minimis limitations that the Ministry mentions in the announcement apply to state aid. However, we once again unequivocally assert that the state’s support for Sea Dance Festival is not aid, but a partnership aimed at the realization of a music festival, with the objective of boosting the local tourism industry and furthering the promotion of the destination.
EXIT’s festivals maintain such commercial partnerships with state institutions in numerous countries worldwide, including several EU countries. Among these is the Sea Star festival in Croatia, held in Umag last weekend with remarkable success in front of over 40,000 people and with substantial support from the City of Umag and the Croatian Tourist Board. This method is used to finance other large events supported by Croatian institutions, such as the ATP tournament in Umag, the Ultra festival in Split, and numerous others, the financing and maintenance of which would not be possible if the claims made in Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism announcement were accurate.
Sea Dance has so far brought over €60 million to the Montenegrin tourism economy in addition to priceless global promotion, while the document approved by the Government of Montenegro in 2014 estimated that this festival would bring more than €100 million to Montenegrin tourism by 2025 and that it would “significantly contribute to the improvement of business, not only in the tourism sector but in the overall economy of Montenegro.”
We do not wish to burden the Montenegrin people with further media debates. If even after the festival’s €60 million contribution to Montenegrin tourism, the introduction of the world’s biggest music stars to Montenegro, and the inestimable value of promoting the destination, the government institutions still do not understand that supporting Sea Dance is not state aid but one of the best investments they could make — it is apparent that this festival is not welcome by Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism and that it should not take place in Montenegro this year.