Until recently, Montenegro was considered a hidden gem, but since gaining independence in 2006, the tourism industry has grown rapidly. It now accounts for roughly 20% of GDP, strengthening the economy and stabilising politics in the region. Montenegro’s economic success has caught the eye of the European Union, and the nation is now an official candidate for EU member status.
In introducing its citizenship-by-investment program, the Montenegrin government will generate investment to fast-track a number of luxury property developments. In return, investors will receive Montenegrin citizenship and a powerful passport that allows holders to travel visa-free to over 120 countries.
As the CBI program requires the purchase of approved real estate, it could be argued that the Montenegrin program was launched too early due to the lack of approved developments. However, in the past few months, more than eight new developments have been approved by the government. Further developments are expected to be approved later this year.
The approved developments range from the world-class 1-billion-euro marina resort at Porto Montenegro, located in Boka Bay, to new hotels and resorts in the north of the country which provide skiing in the winter and access to the wild beauty of Montenegro in the summer.
The development offers for the citizenship program can be broken down into four main regions, two on the coast – The Boka Bay and the Budva Riviera – and five in in the North – Kolasin with four developments and one development in Zabljak.
The investment in the South has to be a minimum of 450,000 euros.
The UNESCO Protected Boka Bay
The only “fjord” in the Mediterranean/Adriatic offering a backdrop to some of the newest and highest quality developments in southern Europe. Four projects, all within 12 kilometers of each other, are under construction with forecast total investments of 3 billion euros, of which well over 1 billion euros has already been invested. The Bay is attracting hotel operators such as Regent, Chedi, One & Only and Ritz Carlton – some with their first hotels in Europe. One of these projects is now approved for the CIP, Porto Montenegro, and 2 more are expected to be approved before the end of the year.
The Bay is serviced by two International Airports, Tivat and Dubrovnik, just over the border in Croatia.
The Budva Riviera and the coast
Founded by the Greeks in the fourth century BC, and then fortified during the Middle Ages, Budva forms the heart of the Budva Riviera, which runs 22 miles from Trsteno to Buljarica, and is dotted with a series of sheltered coves and eight miles of sand and pebble beaches. Budva town is a busy tourist spot and beach location that is suitable for families in the pre and post season and for nightlife during the high season. There are many sand and pebble beaches of varying size from over a kilometer long to small coves lying along the coast of the Budva Riviera with a growing number of quality branded hotels the star of which is the Aman Sveti Stefi hotel.
At the moment there are no CIP approved development in this area, however the first, the AMMA hotel in Canj, is expected to be approved shortly.
Čanj is a charming picturesque coastal village nestled among the Montenegrin hills with its own microclimate specific for this part of the Mediterranean, with mild winters, long and pleasant summers. The former auxiliary port, is an almost unrevealed Mediterranean destination with the beach washed by the warm Adriatic Sea.
The AMMA resort will be based around a branded upscale luxury hotel (5-star) and envisages construction of eight buildings, six of which are 6-floor and two of which are 3-floor. The residential part of the resort consists of 244 studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three bedroom apartments and penthouse, all with the sea view.
The investment in the north has to be a minimum of 250,000 euros.
At an altitude of nearly 1000 meters above sea level, and surrounded by majestic lakes and mountains, the region is acclaimed for its air quality and cherished by visitors for its purity, serenity and natural beauty.
Kolašin is located on the foot of Bjelasica and Sinjajevina mountains, and has two ski centres Kolasin 1450 and Kolasin 1600. Biogradska Gora National Park is close by and is considered one of the premium tourist attractions in Montenegro for those who enjoy open air natural beauty.
Kolašin will shortly be connected by a new motorway to the capital, Podgorica, and Podgorica international airport with a journey time of 30 minutes. It is situated on the main road connecting Montenegro's coast and Podgorica with northern Montenegro and Serbia (E65, E80).
Four developments have been approved for the CIP based around four and five-star hotels.
Zabljak is located in the rugged and dramatic Durmitor region and is one of Montenegro’s showpieces. Carved out by glaciers and underground streams, Durmitor stuns with canyons, glittering glacial lakes and nearly 50 limestone peaks soaring to over 2000 meter, the highest, Bobotov Kuk, hits 2523m. From December to March, Durmitor is a major ski resort, while in summer it’s popular for hiking, rafting and other active pursuits. The location is part of the wider tourist offer for the National Park and its position in natural surroundings, close to the Black Lake and other attractions of the Durmitor massif makes it one of the most attractive places to stay.
There is one approved project in Zabljak with another new expected. That is a 5-star Chedi hotel with 42 units which will be constructed on an area of 1.38 hectare on wooded, sloping terrain, up to 1434 meter above sea level close to the town of Zabljak and its ski resort.
Another CBI development in Zabljak with additional 220 units has been announced.
Other considerations of the program
In addition to the purchase of approved real estate, there is a requirement to pay a 100,000-euro, non-refundable contribution to a national fund. As with all CBI programs, applicants will also have to demonstrate they are of outstanding character and be from outside of the European Economic Area. In addition, they will also have to make at least one visit to Montenegro to complete their biometrics.
The CBI program in Montenegro has outgrown its initial growing pains and has approved its first applications, whereby passports have been issued. It is expected that a combination of having more inventory of approved real estate and a predictable processing system will increase demand for this new program.
Montenegro is expected to ascend to be a full member of the European Union by 2025 so the program is expected to be a long-term investment, especially as spaces are limited at only 2000 approvals. With the diversity of approved real estate, there is something for everyone.
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