World Tourism Day 2017 celebrated: Via Dinarica an engine for sustainable tourism development in BiH

Sep 28, 2017

Representatives of UNDP BiH and FMET with local authorities and beneficiaries of Via Dinarica project in village of Strica, Vareš Municipality

Throughout the world September 27 was celebrated as World Tourism Day 2017, and this year’s theme was  “Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development”. This year-2017 was declared by the UN General Assembly as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Celebration of World Tourism Day 2017 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), was organized within the scope of the Via Dinarica: A Platform for Sustainable Tourism Development and Local Economic Growth, project implemented and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in BiH and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in BiH. The aim of the project is promotion of Dinaric corridor and reduction of economic, social and regional disparities in BiH through affirmation of Via Dinarica as a regional tourism destination and increase of BiH competitiveness in nature-based tourism promoting natural heritage of BiH.

Via Dinarica is an engine of sustainable tourism development in BiH, which is the trend recognized by the local authorities. In line with that trend, the World Tourism Day was marked by signing a cost-sharing agreement between UNDP in BiH and the Federation of BiH Ministry for Environment and Tourism (FMET), which supported the Via Dinarica project with 100.000 BAM.

“Via Dinarica is a very important project for the whole region of the Balkans, and especially for BiH. Considering the positive results the project has yielded, the Government of Federation of BiH has financially supported Via Dinarica, as a project of special importance for development and promotion of Federation of BiH,“ said Ms. Edita Đapo, Federation of BiH Minister of Environment and Tourism.

Tourism is today the 3rd largest export industry in the world after chemicals and fuels, while in BiH tourism represents 5% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

“Via Dinarica project is a tool for development of sustainable tourism in BiH, and Via Dinarica as integrated tourism product, can contribute to socio-economic human development and improving quality of life for people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and other countries in the region,” said Mr. Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, Deputy Resident Representative UNDP BiH, and pointed out: “The tourism sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the few bright spots on the country’s economic radar, and Via Dinarica is a chance for Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop its rural and remote areas, and empower vulnerable population, deprived of development possibilities, via tourism as a development tool.”  

Within the scope of celebration of the World Tourism Day 2017, a visit to Via Dinarica beneficiaries was organized. The beneficiaries conveyed their stories about the contribution of the project to the sustainable tourism development in their community, while the visitors had an opportunity to see and feel Via Dinarica, and enjoy natural beauty of Strica and Sjenokos villages in Vareš Municipality. The contribution of the Via Dinarica project to the sustainable tourism development, was illustratively reflected in various types of assistance to the population and local communities in the Via Dinarica corridor.

“Without the assistance of this type of projects, such as Via Dinarica, it is unthinkable to develop one municipality such as Vareš, and stimulate rural development,“ said Mr. Zdravko Marošević, Mayor of Vareš Municipality, who deems that Vareš have the natural, cultural, historic and gastro potentials and capacities for tourism development, but that local administration has to provide its contribution as well.

Via Dinarica contributes to improvement of tourism infrastructure, increase and improve tourism accommodation capacities, and  expand the touristic offer via introduction of new tourism products. The project enables income generation on the doorstep, and putting traditional way of life into function of tourism development (country life, gastro offer, traditional crafts). Local population has also benefitted from the Via Dinarica project, especially those people who have started their own business in the field of rural tourism, after many years of unemployment.

“This was like a dream come true for my plans. Thanks to the furniture and thermal insulation (that I received from the Via Dinarica project), I have improved the accommodation conditions and I believe that next year all the accommodation capacities will be booked out. I am currently unemployed person, but I expect that this bed-and-breakfast business will enable me to earn my own salary in the forthcoming period,“ said Ms. Šeherzada Hasagić, Via Dinarica project beneficiary from village of Sjenokos.

Via Dinarica project shows how tourism can contribute to all the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Tourism brings hope, prosperity and understanding to so many lives and livelihoods all over the world, and in this spirit, celebration of World Tourism Day 2017 presents a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community, while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change in BiH.

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