Volunteering action on Vlašić mountain Via Dinarica trail gathered members of mountaineering associations and people from the entire country. Showing a joint support and dedication for the recovery the of tourism sector at the time of pandemic, the action was attended by the Italian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Nicola Minasi, the Director of the USAID Mission to BiH, Nancy J. Eslick, the UN Resident Coordinator to BiH, Ingrid Macdonald, the Resident Representative of UNDP BiH, Steliana Nedera, the Minister of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of BiH, Edita Đapo, the expert advisor for tourism of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, Snježana Marić and the senior expert associate of the Ministry of Trade and Tourism of the Republic of Srpska, Jelena Gavrilović.
“The goal of Via Dinarica voluntary actions is to promote nature-based tourism, especially now at the beginning of the most active season of hiking, mountaineering, cycling and other outdoor activities, which allows a large number of people to enjoy the natural beauty of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, said Ingrid Macdonald, UN Resident Coordinator to BiH.
Aiming to jointly support recovery of tourism at the time of disrupted travel, UNDP within the Via Dinarica project launched a series of volunteering actions to preserve nature and make Via Dinarica trails accessible to all outdoor tourists.
UNDP Resident Representative in BiH, Steliana Nedera, added: “In addition to promoting volunteerism, the aim of these voluntary actions is to support rural tourism and nature-based tourism in general, especially in this situation where destinations that can meet health and safety recommendations regarding pandemic are sought, which includes: physical distancing and staying in nature in the fresh air".
Maintenance and marking activities have been performed on the hiking route between two mountain lodges managed by the two mountaineering associations from Travnik: “Paklarske stijene” and MA „Vlašić“, with the help of the partner association MA „Vilenska vrela“ from Kneževo, as their usual joint activities that seek to improve the environment and conditions for the development of tourism on
"Via Dinarica enable us to enjoy healthy environment and provides income generation opportunities for the population residing along Via Dinarica. That is why I am always happy to get involved and support these volunteer actions and contribute to the development of the Via Dinarica brand. BiH has an amazing potential for the promotion of its nature and we must make sure to preserve it", said the Italian Ambassador to BiH Nicola Minasi, who supports socially beneficial work and environmental protection, and regularly participates in volunteer actions on Via Dinarica.
The Director of the USAID Mission to BiH, Nancy J. Eslick, also joined the volunteers who worked on the maintenance of the trail: The Director of the USAID Mission to BiH, Nancy J. Eslick, also joined the volunteers who worked on the maintenance of the trail: “Support for tourism does not only come from promoting Bosnia and Herzegovina's natural beauty, in which the Via Dinarica is an extraordinary example. It also takes additional efforts to get tourists to come, stay longer, and spend more money. Tourism generates revenue and jobs, which benefit every citizen in this country, and USAID is committed to supporting this sector. Such developed tourism can play a vital role in BiH’s journey to self-reliance.”
"For the third year in a row, the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism has supported the Via Dinarica project as an internationally recognized brand, which uses natural and cultural resources to ensure the livelihood of the local population, while respecting diversity and preserving the environment", said the Minister of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of BiH, Edita Đapo.
Jelena Gavrilović, the senior expert associate of the Ministry of Trade and Tourism of the Republic of Srpska, added: "The ministry seeks to support the efforts of the Via Dinarica project in expanding economic opportunities for communities on the trails and contributing to sustainable development".
By working on the trails cleaning, marking and maintenance, the volunteers contributed to a safe and complete experience of the natural environment near Vlašić, which hikers, excursionists and tourists like to visit. Mountain Vlašić abounds in hiking trails and roads, and volunteers from all mountaineering associations, which carry out activities on the mountain, are constantly working on their marking and maintenance.
Via Dinarica is an adventure-hiking route with three main trails (white, green and blue) that stretches along the Western Balkans. Its goal is to connect the countries and communities of the Dinaric Alps by creating a unique and diverse tourist offer. The Via Dinarica concept promotes active tourism in nature and offers exceptional content to domestic visitors at a time of drastic decline in tourism revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the Via Dinarica project is recognized as a significant contribution to sustainable economic development, while preserving the environment and respecting the socio-cultural diversity and authenticity of communities. As a nature-based tourism initiative, Via Dinarica offers visitors the opportunity to spend their free time in a healthy environment where it is possible to maintain physical distance and at the same time visit interesting natural, cultural and historical tourism sites.
The Via Dinarica project is implemented and co-financed by the United Nations Development Programme in BiH with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). The main project partners are the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Trade and Tourism of the Republika Srpska, and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which also financially supports the project.