Following the announcement from the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, which responded to articles about the potential cancellation of the Sea Dance festival due to the absence of the agreed-upon state support, we would like to point out that the state’s support for the festival is not aid, but one of Montenegro’s best investments, and that, as such, it can be realised in full compliance with the law, as is the case in numerous countries where EXIT organises festivals.
The fact that this is a business partnership of great interest for the state of Montenegro is evidenced by the over 50 million euros it has brought Montenegrin tourism so far, along with the immeasurable value in promoting the destination, which was advertised some of the world’s biggest stars such as David Guetta, Jamiroquai, Skrillex, Prodigy and many others. Every euro of government support is returned tenfold to the Montenegrin tourism economy, and the state earns far more just from the VAT collected from hotels, catering establishments, taxi drivers and others than it offers in the way of support for the festival. In simple terms — the absence of the Sea Dance festival will not save the state any money but will cost it, while the Montenegrin tourism economy will be deprived of millions of euros in revenue and promotion.
Regarding the press release published by the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, we wish to remind the public of the events that preceded the announcement of this year’s edition of the festival. Namely, on May 5th this year, Prime Minister Dritan Abazović and Minister Goran Đurović held a meeting with the organisers of the Sea Dance festival, where the support of the Government of Montenegro was reaffirmed. The signing of a long-term contract between the Government and the festival was also announced at that time, as this was the only way to guarantee the long-term stability and sustainability of the festival, so that it could be announced 9–12 months in advance, rather than 2–3 months before the event, as was the case in previous years, which is not enough time to attract a large number of foreign tourists, who already plan for the festival summer in December and January. So, for example, when Serbia signed a long-term agreement with Exit, the festival received the necessary stability, leading to two Best European Festival titles, as well as a record number of tourists who spend 15-20 million euros in Novi Sad each year.
When we were informed a few weeks ago about the bureaucratic obstacles related to Government support, we informed the competent state services about the models that work in other countries where EXIT organises festivals. Thus, we cited the example of the ATP tournament in Croatia, an EU member state, which, despite the European regulation that MEDT states as an obstacle to supporting the Sea Dance Festival, receives regular support of over half a million euros from the relevant Ministry and the Croatian Tourist Board because the support of this event is also not a subsidy, but a commercial business relationship, thanks to which the state of Croatia achieves significant tourism revenues and great promotion. We received absolute assurances from the competent state services within the Republic of Croatia that the abovementioned model is in full accordance with the law and all regulations of the European Union. We have provided insight into other models in other countries so that cooperation on the Sea Dance festival could be realised within the legal framework. Unfortunately, none of the models that operate entirely legally in Croatia, Serbia, and other countries, have been accepted.
We will decide whether the Sea Dance festival will take place this year along with our partners from the Municipality of Budva, with whom we have requested an urgent meeting. Until then, we once again ask Prime Minister Abazović, as we do not doubt his goodwill, to make an extra effort and order the competent government services to find an adequate solution to the problem because we are sure that a strong and healthy Sea Dance also contributes to a healthier Montenegro.