It’s more the fact that Croatia was the next Montenegro and there is a bit of history behind this that people who run around making uninformed off-the-cuff statements like this often don’t know.
You see, the areas of Croatia that are now the real hot spots for foreigners, namely the southern Dalmatian coast, were traditionally some of the poorest areas in Croatia and then Yugoslavia. It wasn’t until the Germans started popping down there in the 1950’s to roast themselves in to oblivion that tourism started to develop and escalate through the 1980’s until the war, pause, then start up again. In contrast, Montenegro has always been a popular spot for summering Serbs (as well as affluent Russians it would appear.) Much like how it seems just about everyone in Sarajevo has a summer home in Makarska, it seems that everyone in Belgrade has a summer home somewhere on the Montenegrin coast, in places like Budva. The tourist infrastructure was built up rapidly here and radically more planned than it was in other places.
Take for instance Dubrovnik. That town can only hold so many people and has already reached this limit, but more still come. Because there were never any methods created for dealing with all these people, it’s something of a free for all right now. While they’re trying some quick fix methods, it doesn’t seem that anyone was prepared for the mass influx of tourists, despite the fact the government advertised like hell to get people there. All I can see if that everyone who visited the city previous to 2005 should count themselves lucky.
Now take Montenegro. While the roads are just as twisty as Croatia and the terrain by the coast even more rugged, we had no trouble making our way along on a bus. There seems to have been more thinking behind their design (there are quick ferries to bypass some very slow parts) and a long time ago, people saw that it would all hit the fan if access wasn’t made easier. I mean, there’s even a train out to Bar on the coast, which I hear isn’t a great town (I’ll know for certain in the next day or two) where there is no train to Dubrovnik. Then there are the cities which have the touristy areas planned out and separated from the old areas. They have bus lines and the even have room for growth.
Undoubtedly, this type of thinking was making its way up the coast and would have been in Croatia a while ago, had Yugoslavia held together. So it’s only fitting that the last vestige of the former YU in former Serbia-Montenegro broke off last year with MNE getting the coast that had ironically been developed inland by the powers that were in Belgrade that they now have separated from.
So, to all those who thought and possibly still think that there are all these opportunities in this “new” country, wake up. All that passed while people had their focus on the “old Croatia”.