SARAJEVO, February 10 (FENA) – In 2019, there were 1,640,717 visits of tourists to Bosnia and Herzegovina with 3,371,322 overnight stays, while in 2009 – 10 years ago, 572,634 tourists came to Bosnia and Herzegovina, registering 1.268.173 overnight stays.
According to the BiH Foreign Trade Chamber, the tourism sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the sectors that are rapidly growing – an increase of 10 percent of the number of tourists annually.
“BiH has impressive opportunities for tourism development and the abundant resources that need to be promoted and used rationally. The country’s vast natural resources give it a clear competitive advantage in the ecotourism sector. This combination, as well as the fact that 65 percent of the population is rural, represents BiH’s potential to become a leading eco-tourism destination in the region.
Mountain areas, rivers, as well as national and nature parks and rich cultural and historical heritage represent potentials for the development of various forms of tourism in BiH,” told FENA the representatives of the Foreign Trade Chamber of BiH.
However, the FTC warns that the basic problem of BH tourism is the lack of a development strategy, and everything that is done is done spontaneously.
In the entity of Republika Srpska, the promotion status is more or less satisfactory, given that there is a Tourism Organization of the RS, the umbrella body in charge of promoting the tourism offer, while in the Federation of BiH, the promotion situation is worrying, the FTC BiH estimates.
The lack of a tourism board and the failure to adopt a tourism development strategy at the FBiH level is a major problem in the functioning and promotion of the country.
The key to success in tourism is, as they point out, a positive story and a tireless promotion of BiH’s tourism offer, because only positive stories about Bosnia and Herzegovina and its beauties can change the negative image of BiH.
The tourism sector in BiH directly supports around 35,000 jobs in the country.
As emphasized by the FTC BiH, the goal of all tourism actors is to seek to increase their offer and to extend the stay of foreign tourists in BiH.
According to research done by tourism experts, there are several obstacles that adversely affect tourism development. This is primarily related to the political and security situation of the country, underdeveloped transport infrastructure, and unfavorable tax policies.
The development of tourism implies large investments and thus faster employment. With better organization, Bosnia and Herzegovina would certainly become a more attractive place for investors.
Suggestions of businesspeople from tourism sector as well as investors in order to raise tourism activity to a higher level show that it is necessary to modify certain laws and to consider abolishing VAT on tourism services or introduce a differentiated rate, i.e., significantly reduce its amount for tourism services, because of its extreme importance to the accelerated development of this sector for the country.
They refer to the experiences of the neighborhood, above all, Croatia, where a decrease in the VAT rate has increased revenues in the tourism industry. One of the suggestions made by foreign investors is that the tourism services exported are taxed differently because the existing method makes this sector less competitive since services are more expensive.
“It is also evident that in the last few years, BiH has recorded an increase in tourist arrivals from Far East countries, and in this sense, we hope that this current health crisis will be remedied very soon since tourism is one of the most sensitive branches affected,” stated the FTC BiH.