MOSTAR, June 13 (FENA) – Chair of the Sarajevo Navigator Foundation and initiator of the “Holidays in BiH” Initiative Nataša Musa believes that Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a tourist destination, should focus on tourism sustainable authentic products and tourists from the region, 18 million of them and that it represents a chance for the long-term development of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In her opinion, connecting different destinations would enable longer stays of tourists in BiH and higher consumption.
“Tourist spending in BiH has drastically decreased during the coronavirus pandemic because we relied only on domestic tourists since there was no mass tourism and arrivals of foreign guests, and for BiH as a destination, such tourism is not sustainable,” said in an interview with FENA Natasa Musa.
As she explained, for this reason, they set out to create platforms and digitize sustainable tourism products in order to interest domestic and tourists from the region, 18 million of them, which for BiH is, realistically, a great chance to help its tourism and develop the industry.
“In mid-2020, in cooperation with the tourism industry, as a reaction to the pandemic, i.e. the economic consequences that the pandemic brought, the ‘Holidays in BiH’ Initiative emerged. Through the initiative, an attempt was made to address the domestic market at that time, but also the regional one, to try to save what can be saved because the year was dramatic after a lockdown that lasted more than two months. The market is changing, more and more products are being bought online. That is why it is necessary to attract customers with products that offer authentic experiences, and which are connected with the local culture,” said Musa.
For example, she says, their best-selling product on the ‘Holidays in BiH’ platform was actually a photo safari with wild horses in Livno, and not a classic holiday in Neum.
He notes that during the pandemic, Trebinje was an absolute hit as an undiscovered gem for domestic and regional tourists. Also, what was popular was the canoeing on the rivers Trebižat, Trebišnjica and Buna or in the nature park at Kravice Waterfall. However, in terms of the number of daily arrivals, Jajce was in the lead.
“So, in principle, whether it is about domestic or foreign tourists, an authentic product is something we must focus on if we think about the longer-term sustainability of tourism,” said Musa.
Musa believes that the priority should be to eliminate the negative consequences of mass tourism and mass tourist arrivals and focus on the tourism industry and authentic BiH products.
As such, she cites Mostar, which had a boom in mass tourist arrivals before the pandemic, but the length of stay in that city was less than a day.
“It is something that does not give a positive result in the long run. What we want is to encourage all tourism workers to create tourism products that will enable a longer stay in BiH by connecting different destinations, and the opportunity for greater consumption per tourist,” says Musa.
According to her, this will improve economic activities in the long run, which will ultimately improve the living conditions of BiH citizens because tourism is developed for them, not for tourists.
“This is an important message that the epidemic has left us, to see tourism as a development opportunity, and not a way for individuals to earn money quickly because in the long run, we do not benefit much from it,” Musa emphasized.
She adds that attractive places and cultural monuments should be connected, such as stećak medieval tombstones scattered around the country and located in beautiful natural environments.