Importance of tourism for BiH and its fight against COVID 19

Importance of tourism for BiH and its fight against COVID 19

Tourism is a sector with an enormous value that reflects in its numerous positive effects which eventually multiply and influence all aspects of one country’s economy. It contributes to social prosperity, growth of GDP, employment and investments. 

It has a particular developmental influence through external effects, starting from the production of food and drinks, construction of roads, railways and air traffic, development of infrastructure and investments into destination capacities, through the development of hotel management, commerce and the entertainment industry, to initiating the development of financial, marketing and educational services and the changes in rural, environmental and spatial development of the country while generally raising the standard of living.

For some time now, tourism is becoming a great contributor to the Bosnian economy. Thanks to the strong annual growth in tourist arrivals until the beginning of coronavirus pandemic, BiH’s tourist industry was expanding at a fast pace. The significance of tourism sector for BiH is best shown by the statistics from two recent years:

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s “Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2018”, in 2018. the Travel & Tourism industry generated a direct contribution of about 409 million euros (BAM 799.7mn), representing 2,6% of total GDP. Moreover, the total contribution (including the indirect and induced ones) was about 1.5 billion euros (BAM 2.94bn), namely 9,3% of total GDP.

As reported by the WEF, in 2018 Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed more than 700.000 international tourists. The main origin markets were

·       Croatia (11%)

·       Serbia (8,9%)

·       Turkey (10,7%)

·       Slovenia (6,5%) 

·       Italy (5,4%).

According to the World Tourism Organization, Bosnia and Herzegovina will have the 3rd highest tourism growth rate at a global level in the period 1995-2020.

The number of tourists visiting Bosnia continuously rose until the coronavirus pandemic started in 2020.

The number of foreign tourists who visited Bosnia in 2019 rose by 13.8% year-on-year, reaching 1,198,059. Foreign tourists spent 2,419,105 overnights in Bosnia last year, up 11.7% on 2018, the statistical office said in a statement. In 2019, tourists from Croatia accounted for 13% of all foreign tourist overnights spent in Bosnia, followed by visitors from Serbia (8.4%) and Saudi Arabia (6.5%). The number of foreign tourists who visited Bosnia in December alone grew by 14.9% on the year, reaching 56,838. Visitors from Croatia accounted for 28.4% of all foreign tourist overnights spent in Bosnia in December, followed by visitors from Serbia (13.3%) and Slovenia (8.3%). The total number of tourist visits grew by an annual 10.8% and edged down by a monthly 0.1% to 96,265 in December. Total tourist overnights rose by 14% on the year and increased by 1.3% month-on-month to 192,906.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, few industries have fallen as far and as fast as tourism. The technological revolution that brought us closer together by making travel and tourism easy and affordable, a revolution that fueled one billion trips a year, is helpless in halting a virus that demands we shelter in place. Taking a snapshot of tourism losses is difficult, as the data changes as quickly as the virus spreads. If the pandemic continues for several more months, the World Travel and Tourism Council, projects a global loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion in revenue. 

As in any other country in the World, BiH’s tourism is fighting its battle against COVID. So far it seems that both the public and private sector’s strategy relies on channelLing Bosnian tourist to domestic destinations. It is a new strategy for the country’s tourism, as until now the service providers concentrated on attracting foreign tourists. One of the exemplary campaigns is Lindens’ “Destination Bosnia & Herzegovina” (OdmoriuBiH), aiming to transfer the successful business model established with “Sarajevo Navigator” to the level of the country as a whole. 

During the first phase, the initiative will focus on the domestic market, while in the second phase the destination Bosnia & Herzegovina will be presented and promoted to international travellers as well. 

Will this strategy be successful enough to save the country’s tourism, it remains to be seen and only in the aftermath, we will get the answer to our questions whether COVID is the deal maker or breaker for domestic tourism.