Montenegro Banking On Stones

The figures may not be exactly the ones Rolling Stones European tour promoter John Giddings has in front of him, but national daily newspaper Vijesti reckons the income Montenegro gets from the act’s July 9th appearance in Budva will be about seven times more than the reported euro 2.6 million (US$ 3.7 million) fee.

In an article published at the end of last month, the paper included various figures explaining that local promoters Music Star, the municipality of Budva – where the show is being held on a beach on the Adriatic coast – and ancillary businesses including the local tourist trade will benefit to the tune of euro 20 million.

Montenegro split from Serbia and declared its independence after a May 2006 referendum and is keen to establish its individual national identity, although an estimated 32 percent of the population are Serbs.

According to Vijesti, 5 million euros from the country’s bumper payday will come from ticket sales alone. But that, and most of the rest of the calculations for that matter, depend on the tiny Balkan republic with an estimated 730,866 inhabitants selling 73,000 tickets – 10 percent of the population.

A further euro 1 million is expected to come from sponsors. But that’s another unknown factor in the equation because, at press time, the event still hadn’t confirmed one. One of the Balkan mobile phone operators is likely to come on board.

The arrival of The Rolling Stones is already being heralded as "one of the most successful moves in the promotion of Montenegro."

Local mayor Rajko Kuljaca is clearly impressed. He’s on a study tour of North America and has reportedly phoned former Serbia and Montenegro president Svetozar Marovic and told him that "every second official in the USA" has now heard of Budva.

Marovic, a loyal supporter of Slobodan Miloševic until the late ’90s, hasn’t been slow to associate himself and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) with bringing the act to the city where he was born and raised.

"It is not a success for Svetozar Marovic, nor a success for the DPS, nor for those who are members of this party – it is a success for Montenegro," he was quoted as modestly telling Vijesti. "I love Montenegro and all my love for it comes from Budva," he added.