The organisers of the New Deal Europe travel trade marketplace and conference have reported strong interest from exhibitors in the Balkans region.

The 2021 event will take place virtually on April 12 and will feature pre-arranged meetings between suppliers from 12 Balkans countries and trade buyers from around the world.

The inaugural event, held in October 2020 in partnership with Travel Weekly parent Jacobs Media Group, featured more than 1,250 meetings between delegates from 36 countries, in addition to keynote addresses and presentations on major issues facing tourism in the region.

Robert Dee, New Deal Europe co-founder, said: “The last couple of weeks has seen a surge in support for our event with national tourism organisations getting behind us in different ways, all of them positive.

“Some countries such as Bulgaria, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzogovina are subsidising tourism suppliers to enable them to attend, leading to an increase in exhibitors from these countries. Others are encouraging participation in different and very creative ways.”

Tine Murn, the event’s other co-founder, added: “It seems that the rollout of the vaccine has encouraged tourism organisations to think more positively about the future, to look beyond the coming weeks and months and start planning for 2022.

“We are delighted that the national tourism boards of Albania and Montenegro will be among those joining us for the first time, along with a delegation from the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism, and that we will welcome back the delegates from the tourism boards of Serbia and Slovenia.”

Zorica Jovanov, marketing director of the Serbian National Tourism Organisation, said: “[New Deal Europe 2020] was organised extremely professionally, we had very useful meetings and created new valuable contacts, so we can say that the event exceeded our expectations.

“We are looking forward to the next event with optimism hoping that the overall situation will be favourable for tourism, and that event will help us to accelerate the tourism recovery in our country.”