As a relatively new and under-researched tourism destination, Serbia provides an interesting context to assess destination competitiveness in conditions of global environmental changes and the additional challenges of transition from a socialist economy to a market-based economy. This article uses importance–performance analysis (IPA) to assess the importance of different activities to underpin tourism development in Serbia, as well as the industry's perceived performance in respect of these activities. There are a number of areas in which Serbian tourism industry considers itself to be underperforming in the implementation of activities to maintain destination competitiveness. This article analyses these results in detail using IPA as a diagnostic tool. Particular attention is paid to investigating the implications of the findings for both destination managers and private tourism operators in Serbia that can assist them to develop a focused action agenda to achieve and maintain destination competitive advantage. The approach can be used in other destinations to assess tourism ability to meet the challenges of global trends.