VIP promotion videos for Vojvodina

Few days ago, thanks to the people on Serbia's Ambassador To The World, I found two brand new online promotional videos aimed at promoting investment opportunities in Vojvodina. The creator is an awkward named Vojvodina Investment Promotion, or VIP.

As you may know, Serbia in general didn’t have a stellar experience with TV promotional campaigns. The last big video, or to be precise, TV commercial that aired on CNN was, in my opinion, a failure. It looked like it was made by a bored film student stuck in a editing room with a lot of generic, bland shots of nature scenes, unrecognizable buildings and too many churches that are important, but didn’t catch the eye of an international viewer (if I’m not mistaken, one of them isn’t even on Serbian soil, it’s actually located across the Danube border in Romania).

Although it wasn’t a tacky attack on the scenes, this kind of flat promotion isn’t going to do anything, especially having in mind that every other country in the region created a targeted campaign. Croatia, for example, has the fantastic tag-line: Mediterranean as it one was, and the whole campaign revolves around it, cleverly distancing that country from other, similar offers like Greece, meanwhile painting those locations as too commercialized.

But, here are the VIP videos:

So, what are my thoughts?
Overall, I think they are pretty solid. Again, they are focusing on a traditional vision, and the look of the videos needs more color correction, so that those green and golden fields stand out, instead of being gray. Good thing is the listing of facts and advantages of investing in Vojvodina. Even better are the commentaries in the second video, where business leaders from abroad talk about their experiences working here.
But, the thing I like the best about it – the slogan. Come and grow. It’s simply fantastic.

All in all, I see these videos as a step in the right direction.
What do you think?

Vojvodina at Expo Azienda Italia Fair

I already wrote about the need of Serbia and its regions to better present themselves at the international stage, especially to the countries from the EU block. That’s why I think that participation of Vojvodina, the northern province of Serbia, in the Azienda Italia Expo Fair is a great decision.
The fair is an event that brings together Italian investors involved with projects in Romania.

Vojvodina, with its underdeveloped tourism and excellent possibilities for investments in green field eco-friendly industries, should take the lead in its own promotion. Also, it shares a border with Romania.

Of course, it’s always a bad idea to drum up our image – there are several big problems waiting anyone who wishes to invest in Serbia (judiciary system is the biggest in my opinion, more on that some other time).

But, if you accept the risks, I truly think Serbia, and Vojvodina in particular, has a huge potential for a successful business venture.

The event will take place in Timisoara, starting on the 10th and closing three days later. Vojvodina will have its presentation on the 11th, and it will be called "Economic Cooperation with AP Vojvodina". Check it out if you’re in Romania.

More about the Vojvodina presentation here.

More about the Azienda Italia Expo Fair here.

Balkan Championship in orienteering

Do you like hiking in the mountains? Well, if you do, you will probably like orienteering.

The term represents a sort of sport – in it, the participants use their navigational skills, assisted by a map and compass to navigate in an unknown terrain.
The goal for competitors is to move from one predefine points to the other, and the first team or individual to reach the last one wins.

Balkan Championship in orienteering is an annual event that brings top team from the region, and this year, it will be held in Serbia, Jastrebac mountain to be precise. Jastrebac is located in central Serbia, near the cities of Nis and Prokuplje. Its well-forested hills and surrounding valleys are well known to aficionados of both hiking and mountaineering.

The opening day of the Championship is the 23 of October 2010, and it will last for two days. If you choose to visit Jastrebac in that period, you will have a chance to learn a lot about orienteering from the right people, and I bet there will be a lot of additional activities for non-competitors.

Find out more about the event by calling Serbian Mountaineering society on +381 11/2642 065.

Almasi and its traditional candy

We all know that dining is an essential part of travel, but sadly, small local deserts and other sweet snacks are usually off the radar, or at least don’t get the same amount of attention as the lunch-diner type of meals.

For most of us, when we crave something sweet, ice-cream and chocolate based treats from big international companies work just fine in any part of the world.

But, if you’re traveling to or through Senta, a small town in Vojvodina (northern Serbia) there is a place all you sweet toots shouldn’t miss, and it’s a candy store called Almasi (Almaši in Serbian).

Why is this store special?

Well, mainly because they specialize in production of marzipan.
Marzipan is a generic name for candy product based on almond meal – this store still makes them in the traditional way.

A single piece of marzipan weights around 30 grams, and has a very thick and sweet taste to it. They are formed in simple shapes like cubes or wheels and there aren’t many different flavors to choose between. It might not be trendy, but the owners stick to the traditional recipes. The price should range between 0.80 and 2 Euros per piece, but don’t worry – after few marzipans from Almasi, you won’t need anything sweet any time soon.

It’s almost guarantied not everyone will like the rich taste, but those who do will remember it for sure.

The address of Almasi candy shop is Sečenjev Square 3, Senta.

The Agenda 21 for culture in Novi Sad

Novi Sad is often called ''Serbian Athens'' because of its longstanding cultural significance, both historically and in the present. But, in the past few years, the city government and several independent organizations for promotion of cultural activity have had a falling out.

The main flash point was the way the city-distributed fund, and a bitter argument ensued. The result: few of these organizations had to terminate their programs, and the city itself lost a part of its cultural scene.

But now, the city government wisely decided to implement Agenda 21, a document that will define Novi Sad’s long-term cultural development and goals. The Agenda 21 for culture is an international system that is supposed to resolve the conflicts and more importantly, wider the cultural cooperation between partners from abroad.

In short, an excellent news for the future cultural development of Novi Sad!

Dead Tisa

Vojvodina has a lot to offer when it comes to inland waters – from one of the biggest rivers in Europe, the Danube, to artificial formed lakes in former quarries (some of those are, sadly, disappearing).

But, for me personally, the best summer time spot for some fun in the sun is, without a doubt, the National Park Dead Tisa, or Mrtva Tisa in Serbian.

This boggy marshland was cut of from the main flow of the Tisa river in 19th century, and is located near the village Curug, some 30 kilometers from Novi Sad by car.

But, although it’s technically a swamp, the main part of the national park is a canal-like lake, constantly supplied by fresh water from a series of natural underground wells that are located in the area.
Because of them, the water is never stale or smelly, and because of its relatively small surface area, easily heated by sun.

The place is perfect for swimming or canoeing, and even possibly sailing in small, one-seat boats.

Thanks to its status as a park, building is allowed on its banks, but installment of electricity, sewers or running water is not.
Without any waist waters, the Dead Tisa is amazingly clean and odorless.

Also, the practice of locals for the last 10-20 years was to build small summerhouses right next to the water, and equip them with wooden docks.
The banks are very steep, making those docks, alongside small patches of land where they are built ideal for jumping and sunbathing.

The best thing is that anybody can use those docks when the owners aren’t around.
They are public property, and there are a lot of them.

A lazy summer afternoon, little BBQ, a few beers cooling in the water and lot of friends and/or family – sounds like an ideal setting for a great day on Dead Tisa.

Silver Lake

I never went camping as a kid. I’m not sure why I avoided it for so long, but I finally tried it last year and simply loved it. That’s why I’m planning to travel and camp around Serbia, and one of my first destinations is Silver Lake (Srebrno jezero in Serbian) near the town of Veliko Gradiste. It’s located near Belgrade, some 110 km southeast of it and is easily accessible by car or bus.

This is what Wikipedia says about the lake itself:

Silver Lake has an irregular arch shape; it is 14 kilometers long, up to 300 meters wide and covers an area of 4 km². It is situated at the altitude of 70 meters and deep as much as 8 meters. The water is clear due to the lack of pollution and the natural philtration of the water through many sand dunes. The lake is abundant in fish, including white amur, carp, catfish, pike, perch and other freshwater whitefish.

The river Danube is also very near, so the region must be a great treat for fishing.
My friend visited it just recently and was very impressed, especially by the development – he said it looked like a lot of money recently went into maintaining and improving the landscape, as well as re-building the tourist infrastructure. According to him, the place had an almost ‘’seaside’’ feel to it, which is great.
He stayed in a bungalow, but I recommend a camping trip. All in all, Silver Lake looks ideal for a short, late-summer outdoors vacation.