A graduate geographer and a licenced tour guide Zeljko Petrovic (30) adds a number in a small notebook almost every day. The number of tours in English he led and the number of tourists who visited Serbia and joined some specific Belgrade walking tours or Zeljko’s private tours has drastically increased since I wrote first article about him in 2014.
These days, in the second half of December 2017, the busiest tour guide will be the host to tourists from all over the world for the 2000th time, and the number of tourists will soon be more than 34.000. Zeljko is proud of his success, and as he tells me, he will celebrate this 2000th tour at the special party with his friends.
‘I love this job very much and that’s the reason it can’t be boring to me. I always have a new challenge, because I always have new and different guests and the tours are not always the same. One day I am in Zemun, the other day in The House of Flowers, then in the underground Belgrade or St. Sava’s temple, on Dorcol, on the Sava or the Danube rivers, in Novi Sad or somewhere else in Serbia’, Zeljko told me. He also told me that he didn’t usually have more than three tours a day, but there were also some extreme days when he succeeded in having four shorter tours.
According to his memories the largest number of guests were from Australia and Germany and during summer there are a lot of the British. Also a lot of Spaniards and Canadians visit Serbia. Every year there are more and more Turks and in this year Israeli people are the most numerous.
Belgrade is also visited by the guests from small countries as Mauritius, Antigua and Barbuda are, but also by the guests from distant countries Ecuador, Colombia, Kazakhstan.
I asked him which tourists gave the best tips but he diplomatically told me that he always counted the money at the end of the tour and not at the moment when he was given tips. But he was willing to tell me which the most frequent questions are.
‘They want to know where they can have a good meal and a drink after the tour, and they always ask some political questions about the 1990s situation. If during the tour I mentioned Zemun then they also want to know how they can get there, how to reach St Sava’s temple, The Museum of Yugoslavia and some other places.’
While he works the most important thing to him is that the guests feel nice and that they are welcome.
I know that there is no good trip without that nice feeling when you are out of your country. They have to know that everyone is welcome to be a friend in Serbia. I don’t judge my guests by religion, continent, skin colour or their looks. All of them are people who decided to take my tour. It’s their wish and therefore I highly respect them because they put their trust in me.
Although he works a lot, after six years in tourism, he has the possibility to be the one who will determine when he will take the day off. When he doesn’t work, he hangs out with his friends in Serbia, or he travels the world, mostly through Europe so that he could meet some other cultures and people. He likes going to his hometown Valjevo, in which tourism has been rapidly developing. That’s the reason why he is sure there will be some organized tours to Valjevo, too.
‘I’m planning to be in this area for a long time. I am happy and satisfied because of the positive energy that foreigners spread and because of my personal energy, respectively because of that connection we make together’, Zeljko Petrovic told me proudly. For my site he was photographed in Serbian traditional clothes dressed exactly as when guiding the tourists.
He wears Serbian traditional bodice, peasant shoes when the weather is nice, and woolen sweater, so that he authentically represent our tradition and culture even during the winter.
The first story with a soul that Zeljko told me you can read HERE.
You can follow him on Instagram too.
Text: Nenad Blagojević www.leshistoiresdelame.com
Photo: Nenad Blagojević, private album,
Translation: Jelena Jokić