''Everything is created twice- first in the mind and then in reality.'' Robin Sharma
How do you create The Best Major European Music Festival? You have a lofty dream that in a post-conflict region young people can be happy and entrepreneurial. In 2000,EXIT Festivalstarted in Novi Sad, Serbia as a student movement and one of the initiatives to ensure fair elections and to end the dictatorship. Imagine 100 days of concerts, workshops, exhibitions.
Why is EXIT unique? Because of its activist legacy and the magnificent Petrovaradin Fortress where the Danube coast kisses the horizon. The Novi Sad bridges on the Danube were destroyed during the 1999 bombing, but many bright entrepreneurs, activists, artists with EXIT mindset reconnected the region. Fourteen years since Serbia obtained the democratic regime, EXIT received 6 awards from major world media and festival associations (including The Best Major European Festival in January, 2014) and welcomed more than 3 million visitors.
EXIT Festival benefited Serbian economy and society in terms of:
1) FINANCE: Over 100 million Euros since 2000 was the benefit to the tourist economy of Serbia which means 15 million Euros annually and 2.5-3 million Euros of VAT for Serbia.
2) DESTINATION BRANDING: EXIT positioned Serbia and the neighboring countries as the desirable travel destinations, with the key promise of the unforgettable festival experience in the multicultural Danube region. The Millennial tourist segment was greatly attracted due to their interests in:
a) city-break tours given their time/budget constraints (the Festival lasts for 4 days)
b) longer stays, exploring the entire region, documenting it through their art or forging business partnerships with locals. The Novi Sad Tourism Organization was founded as the governing body because the EXIT’s momentum created this need.
3) MARKET EXPANSION AND HELPING REGIONAL ECONOMY: In 2014 SEA DANCE Festival in Budva, the Montenegrin resort, happened immediately after EXIT in Serbia so that the region is experienced longer. Also, many international visitors arrive to EXIT from neighboring states, paying for transport, accommodation, food in both Serbia and those countries.
4) SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Activism is the heartbeat of EXIT’s very own Foundation as Festival’s daily conferences and projects throughout the year nurture creative industries scene and the next generation of conference managers, ICT entrepreneurs, globally connected leaders.
Last but not least, EXIT is an exemplar case study in motion: started from scratch to solve the pain, with unrivaled quality and energy.