Head of the Delegation of the European Union and EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Johann Sattler hosted in Sarajevo the conference „Tourism – Economic Game Changer“, which focused on the challenges and opportunities for the development of sustainable tourism in BiH and the use of the potentials of this sector.
„Bosnia and Herzegovina certainly has the potential for tourism development that can trigger positive changes in the country. We have recognized and supported this with EUR 1.6 million allocated through the EU4Business programme, while an additional EUR 1.2 million will soon be invested through the EU4BusinessRecovery to regenerate tourism from the effects of COVID-19. Both projects are co-financed by the EU and the Government of the Republic of Germany. Much remains to be done, especially on the development of a nationwide Tourism Strategy, which will enable the use of European Union funds for this sector,” said Ambassador Sattler.
The conference was divided into three panels, during which the revival of the tourism sector, boosting its competitiveness, and opportunities for the development of green and sustainable tourism were discussed. The panelists included BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Staša Košarac, FBiH Minister of Environment and Tourism Edita Đapo, US Ambassador Eric Nelson, Greek Ambassador Dimitrios Papandreou, Chargé d’Affaires of the Slovak Embassy Patrik Turosik, UNDP BiH Deputy Resident Representative Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, Head of Department of Tourism of the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Jelica Grujić, Professor at the Faculty of Economics UNSA Almir Peštek and representatives of tourism organizations, associations and chambers and business community.
Minister Košarac emphasized that BiH has a lot to offer to tourists and that the country’s goal is to follow the tourism trends of the EU member states and to adapt our offers to the new situation. “We have good opportunities for the development of tourism, the entity governments have already made progress and are making maximum efforts to repair the consequences for the overall tourism economy. These activities are reflected in the reduction of obligations for the businesses, making direct incentives in order to maintain employment, subsidizing tourist arrangements and preparation of future steps for the recovery of tourism,” said Minister Košarac.
Ambassador Nelson emphasized that the USA, through the USAID project, will help local tourism actors to present offers, enable the work of their businesses, attract investments and contribute to the strengthening of tourism in BiH. He assessed that BiH should take steps to adapt to the post-Covid situation. Ambassador Nelson also indicated that there is a need for rapid repair of infrastructure, but also the application of digital services in that sector.
More than 100 representatives of civil society, businesses, organizations and associations dedicated to work in the field of tourism and the general public followed the conference through a video link.