Via Dinarica: A Platform for Sustainable Tourism Development and Local Economic Growth
Function of the project
The tourism sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the few bright spots on the country’s economic radar. Although encouraging, the tourism industry’s performance remains far below potential. This can be attributed to a variety of challenges such as underdevelopment and inadequate management of many tourism sites, insufficient tourism infrastructure and accommodation facilities, weak institutional and business connections within the sector and across sectors, and a still lacking global image of BiH that has not been addressed by an effective country branding and marketing campaign.
The Via Dinarica is a concept which connects seven countries and territories that encompass the Dinaric Alps mountain range: from Slovenia to northern Albania. The heart of this mega trail, similar to the Via Alpina and the Appalachian Trails, is in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia and Montenegro.
The project is an initiative of USAID and UNDP focusing on the portion of the mountain range in BiH, and it is implemented in cooperation with national partners. It intends to reduce economic, social, and regional disparities in BiH through the promotion of the Via Dinarica as a regional tourism attraction and increase BiH’s standing in the competitive nature-based tourism sphere.
The Via Dinarica is a platform that serves to develop local communities and small businesses in the field of hospitality, service and tourism active on a local, national, and international level, as well as promote agriculture and cultural heritage.
What we do
The aim of this project is to establish the Via Dinarica corridor, with its three major trails – the White, the Green and the Blue Trails - as a community-owned and operated tourism product that provides sustainable livelihoods for a broad range of stakeholders. To accomplish this Via Dinarica project will:
- Assess and chart the three Via Dinarica Trails in BiH;
- Improve tourism infrastructure and strengthen the capacities of tourism service providers along the Trails;
- Promote, market, and strengthen the identity of the Via Dinarica domestically and internationally;
- Establish and foster partnership networks among relevant stakeholders and higher government authorities along the Via Dinarica Trails in BiH.
Success thus far
The following are some of the results accomplished and ongoing in the project’s first year:
- Established a large cooperative network between state and entity ministries, a number of local communities and wide range of civil society organisations and outdoor tourism related businesses located along the Via Dinarica Trails;
- GPS marked and assessed more than 300 km on the White and Green trail of Via Dinarica;
- Distributed 450 water filters to the population in flood affected areas along the Green Trail;
- Completed the assessments of: a) mountain huts, lodges and shelters; b) private accommodation facilities and c) outdoor tourism related businesses on the Via Dinarica White Trail;
- Developed and launched grant schemes for: a) mountain huts, lodges and shelters; b) private accommodation facilities, c) outdoor tourism related businesses on the Via Dinarica White Trail, d) dual capacity organizations based in the flood affected areas along the Green Trail that are active in outdoor tourism and lost their equipment in 2014 floods in BiH;
- Through tourism workshops, strengthened capacity of over 40 civil society organisations and tourism service providers, located along the Via Dinarica Trails.
Goals moving forward
- Support sustainable rehabilitation and valorization of public and private tourism assets along the Trails, and increase its competitiveness in the global tourism market;
- Strengthen the value of the Via Dinarica tourist trail destinations though improved quality of tourism facilities, infrastructure services;
- Boost skills and capacities of local social, economic and public stakeholders to develop sustainable and integrated tourism business practices, directly helping local employability and income generation;
- Promote the Via Dinarica and abundance of its natural and cultural resource potential, reinvigorating the image of the country and the region.
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