SARAJEVO, January 25 (FENA) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching a new five-year Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina project that will support the recovery of the BiH tourism sector by encouraging cooperation between all levels of government, the economy and local communities from the negative impact of the pandemic.
U.S. Ambassador to BiH Eric Nelson said at a webinar today that the U.S. Government will help local actors present offers, enable business, attract investment, and contribute to strengthening tourism in the postcovid world through the USAID project.
He stated that while traveling through BiH, he saw waterfalls, bridges, places like Počitelj, Trebinje, Bjelašnica, Jahorina and enjoyed excellent food.
“This is the beginning of what BiH has to offer to tourists. We have to share with the world what this country has to offer,” Nelson said.
USAID Mission Director in BiH Nancy Eslick said the pandemic had devastating consequences around the world, including in BiH, and that USAID believes that investment in tourism would provide more jobs and strengthen the economy.
The goal of the five-year, worth 20 million USD project is to support far-reaching economic development driven by tourism, and to promote social harmony through the natural activation of BiH’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
In his address, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Staša Košarac, expressed his satisfaction with the launch of the project. He stressed that BiH has the potential for tourism development, given that a significant growth rate of tourist arrivals was recorded in the period before the pandemic.
“Before the pandemic, one of the highest growth rates was recorded in the countries of the Western Balkans, and tourists came from the region, but also from China, Korea, the USA, and all European countries. With its diverse tourist offer, BiH meets the requirements of different profiles of tourists. When we look at the statistics, tourism can be a strong industry in BiH,” added Košarac.
Minister of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of BiH, Edita Djapo, and the Minister of Trade and Tourism of the Republika Srpska, Suzana Gašić, emphasized the importance of the natural beauties of BiH and the offer that BiH has in that sense.
Djapo pointed out that the FBiH Ministry of Environment and Tourism has prepared three new laws related to tourism and catering sector, applying the best world practices. Also, continuous work is being done on the harmonization of legislation and directives related to the environment, and significant support has been provided through grants and transfers to the private sector. Particularly significant funds were allocated during the pandemic in order to retain jobs and business entities in this sector.
“Our goal is to get closer to world practices and to enable the local community to generate income while preserving nature and the environment. Also, activities have been initiated for the development of a strategy for the development of tourism in the FBiH,” said Đapo, adding that the Ministry actively participates in and supports international projects.
BiH, i.e. the Federation of BiH, in the near future, as she added, needs strategic documents, investments in human resources and infrastructure, increasing care for nature and the environment and the use of natural resources for the development of sustainable tourism, attracting tourists and investors.
Despite the fears and challenges, as Minister Gašić said, life must not stop. She expressed her belief that thanks to this project, joint efforts will lead to new, sustainable solutions for the recovery and strengthening of tourism in BiH.