February 16, 2015
TheSrpskaTimes

Albinko Hasic writes about Bosnia’s tourism potential and how it could help the country revive its economy after the trauma of the 90’s. We bring you his article, publishes on the-newshub.com.

The term ‘tourist’ often harbors a negative connotation, especially in vibrant hub cities such as New York City or Paris. Even Bosnia and Herzegovina’s neighbor, Croatia, has had their fair share over the last decade with the locals slowly fostering some discontent over the waves of never ending newcomers, especially during the summer months, along the coast on the Croatian Riviera.

For countries that are still, slowly, in the process of picking up the pieces and rebuilding however, tourists could be something altogether different from a nuisance, a driving force behind development. In truth, Bosnians are very receptive to foreigners, just as all Balkanites, but simply less accustomed to them especially in larger numbers, than their neighbors.

Since the conflict of the 1990s and the subsequent Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been a country in a time of metamorphosis. Aiming to rebuild and reorient after not only a conflict that tore down much of the existing infrastructure, but the remnants of the socialist system in place for decades. The damage from the war in the region was unprecedented.

Since the signing of the peace agreement, the international community, in particular the United States and the European Union have pumped millions of euros worth of aid into the country, not just to rebuild the infrastructure but to rebuild people’s lives and institutions. However, despite some results, the country has not advanced as quickly as anticipated. Many problems still exist, such as rampant corruption, political indecisiveness and deadlock, unemployment and a crawl towards privatization.

Some have now speculated openly that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s citizens need to do more to stand up and reform their country and make conditions more suitably for development and advancement. The answer, or at least part of it, may be in a still untapped resource: tourism.

In fact, according to one estimate by the World Tourism Organization, Bosnia-Herzegovina will have, globally, the third largest tourism growth rate between 1995 and 2020. Quite a statistic for a country that underwent a brutal conflict only two decades ago. In truth, however, Bosnia-Herzegovina is no stranger to tourism. The country hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, and its natural beauty and cultural treasures attract thousands of visitors each year.

However, when compared to its neighbor Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still lagging behind. The tourism sector can be a real asset for the country for numerous reasons. It transcends ethnic, national or political divisions, since everyone benefits from the economic upturn. It is not a national program that needs to be debated or divided equally – everyone is entitled to it based on his or her own locality. For BiH, this is not problem, since the country is a treasure trove of natural beauty in virtually all parts of the land. The water alone is some of the cleanest in Europe since rampant industrialization has not been a problem here.

With tourism, there is also the possibility of new job creation and the rise of private businesses such as restaurants, hotels and vendors. This can present real positive change in the lives of everyday people who might typically not be able to make a sustainable living. Take for example, the so-called ‘Bosnian Pyramids,’ of Visoko. Even though there is much debate about what these hills truly are, their sheer ‘discovery,’ and media fame has led to a flourishing pocket of tourist activity in the area, resulting in millions of euros injected into the local economy. And this is only one small example. Numerous locales still remain unexplored and untapped into these sorts of possibilities.

BiH’s citizens can make a difference. The youth of the country is eager to make their mark, educated and passionate. The international community has done their part to help and can continue to do so by fostering the young tourism industry in the country allowing the people to take their destiny into their own hands.

Teach a man to fish, and where better than in the crystal waters of Bosnia’s rivers and streams?