Bosnia plans WTM debut

Bosnia and Herzegovina comes to World Travel Market in London for the first time
this year vowing to finally shake off its troubled past.

The former Yugoslavian republic makes its appearance at ExCeL London between Monday
12-Thursday 15 November as part of a new drive to attract tourists. The country is
wary of the fact that many potential visitors have a negative view of the
destination because of its bitter civil war of the 1990s.

Fiona Jeffery, Managing Director of World Travel Market said:” We are delighted to
welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the perfect global business backdrop for them
to profile their strengths as a new and exciting destination with a great deal to
offer the industry worldwide.


“B&H Tourism Association has recently stepped up efforts to woo the trade because
of its concern of a low level of awareness of the country among European tour
operators. We look forward to working with them and re-establishing them on the
global tourism map.”



B&H Tourism Association’s own research, conducted among 56 operators across
Europe, the US and Canada, revealed the majority were unaware of its main
attractions or selling points. Surprisingly, many still had concerns about the
safety of travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina - despite the fact the war ended more
than a decade ago.


Efforts to increase its inclusion in tour operators’ brochures began close to home
at the beginning of 2007, with B&H hosting fam trips for travel executives from
Spain, Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic and UK.


The appearance at World Travel Market marks a concerted attempt to spread its
influence wider.


Culture, nature and historical attractions will be top of the list for the B&H
delegation keen to sell the nation as Europe’s ‘hidden secret’.


The country’s mountains have a developed infrastructure for hikers and skiers. The
Tara Canyon, second only in size to the Grand Canyon, is sure to feature heavily.


Top of the country’s many historical attractions is the medieval Old Bridge in
Mostar, restored to its former glory by international donations after being
destroyed in the war.


The bridge was reopened in a glittering ceremony in July 2004, and subsequently
placed named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient town of Mostar has also been
significantly restored.


The country will also be highlighting the wine-producing region of Herzegovina and
the primeval forests of the Sutjeska National Park, both of which its sees as
perfect short-break attractions for clients taking in Sarajevo.


The capital city’s internationally famous Sarajevo Film Festival, held in August
for past 16 years, is also seen as a major draw, particularly following the
introduction of a direct British Airways flight from Gatwick to Sarajevo.


“For most of its history, B&H has been at the crossroads of where Eastern and
Western cultures have come,” said Arna Ugljen-Kopic, spokesperson of the B&H
Tourism Association.


“There are few places in the world that can boast of having an Orthodox and
Catholic Church, a Mosque and a Synagogue all close to each other like Sarajevo has.


Adventure sports such as hiking, skiing and white-water rafting are expected to
feature highly on the stand, with B&H taking particular pride in the clear waters of
the Tara, Vrbas, Neretva and Una rivers. All have white-water operators certified by
the International Rafting Federation, and the country is host to the World Rafting
Championship in 2009.


The region has a rich history of the sport, with English eccentric George Edward
McKenzie Skues (recognized as the world’s greatest ever trout fisherman)
mentioning the Pliva river and its fishing families in his acclaimed 19th century
book on the subject, and is already proving popular with visitors from Scandinavia,
France and Germany.


Alongside its attractions, World Travel Market delegates will get to hear how B&H is
working to improve its product as it tries to achieve 5% growth annually for the
next 10 years. International investment has been pouring into B&H in recent years
(€2.25 billion in 2006; €2.85 billion in the first six months of 2007, according
to official figures).


“The government and private sector in B&H increasingly recognise tourism as a
driving force in the country’s economic development, and are united in their
efforts to promote this important area of the economy,” said Ugljen-Kopic.


Professional certification for adventure sports suppliers have been set up, while
new regulations in the hotels and restaurant sector are being introduced.

A consumer website promoting the country has also been introduced.