New escorted tours, adventure product and improved tourism infrastructure have helped UK visitor numbers to Serbia hit a 20-year high in 2017, according to its tourism board.

Between January and September 2017, 25,627 British visitors travelled to Serbia, representing a 15% increase year-on-year and the highest-recorded figures from the UK market in two decades, it was revealed at World Travel Market.

The country achieved double-digit growth across all source markets for the fifth consecutive year, and numbers are projected to rise by a further 40% from the UK over the next three years.

Marija Labovic, chief executive and managing director for the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia, said: “We are positioning Serbia as a tourism destination through more effective promotion in the global market, and that is giving concrete results.

“I think we are seen by the UK market as offering very good value for money. We have Belgrade as a city-break destination, but all these other aspects – culture, history, adventure, gastronomy and wineries – are adding to it, together with the museums that are open now.

“It’s that mixture of east and west which makes us different.”

Escorted tour operator Cosmos has added 25 new tours for 2018 that feature Serbia as part of its Balkans programme, while Exodus is eyeing expansion in the country next year with family-focused tours combining the cultural and activity market. These join fellow operators including Explore, Regent Holidays, Ramblers Worldwide and Travel the Unknown in offering holidays to the country.

UK marketing representative, Russell Stenhouse, said: “The big thing Serbia has to offer for travel agents is product that people will find harder to package up themselves. When you come away from city breaks, there’s a big earning potential in terms of commission.”

The tourism board will step up its joint trade marketing with tour operators and its programme of agent fam trips for 2018.

Travel Weekly coverage of World Travel Market