November 22, 2018 Books

Hit Guides Give Serbia’s Tarnished Image a Shine

Dimitrije Stamenkovic’s idea – to change the region’s iffy image through innovative guidebooks – has borne fruit, as both sales and awards testify.

Dimitrije Stamenkovic founded Komshe in 2004. Photo: Courtesy of Dimitrije Stamenkovic

Fabian Vendrig

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Dimitrije Stamenkovic was born in Leskovac, in southern Serbia, which you can hear immediately from his distinctive dialect. After high school he moved to Belgrade in 1999 for faculty studies. Besides studying, however, he also became active in a European student organisation, called AEGEE, through which he organised events and had an opportunity to travel and meet people from abroad.

“During my AEGEE-period I became aware of the bad image that Serbia and the region had abroad. For example, when people from a sister organisation in The Netherlands came to Serbia for an exchange, they brought everything with them,” he recalls.

“They literally thought we had nothing. But nature in the region is beautiful, the food is amazing and people are very friendly to foreigners. The students did not expect that, and when they went back, they had a totally opposite idea of Serbia, which was very positive. It made me feel good that my friends and I could portray Serbia and the region in a different, more affirmative way.”

With that in mind, Komshe was founded in 2004 by youngsters seeking to change Serbia’s image in a positive way, without being driven by hunger for money.  They decided to achieve this by publishing travel guides in foreign languages, as there were almost no such travel guides about the region.

“The very first travel guide published by Komshe was Serbia in your hands, and the reaction from the market was amazing,” Stamenkovic recalls.

“The National Tourism Organisation of Serbia was delighted with this edition, and that gave us a boost to continue.”

After the success of Serbia in your hands, they published a travel guide about Belgrade and another about Montenegro.

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