Adventure tourism is on the rise in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), with the country’s diverse and challenging terrain offering a range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and rock climbing. There are a number of beautiful rivers across the country that provide great spots for travelers to go rafting, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. In addition to the country’s natural beauty, its cultural heritage is also gaining global recognition, making it an attractive destination for travelers seeking adventure.
In recent years, Bosnia and Herzegovina has seen more of its intangible heritage highlighted by UNESCO, including Konjic woodcarving and Zmijanje embroidery. The country also had its first village, Krupa na Vrbasu, accepted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Top Tourist Village Upgrade Program. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first educational initiatives have been certified by UNWTO TEDQUAL programand the Herzegovina Wine Route was included in Iter Vitis, a Council of Europe cultural route honoring wine regions and the history of wine production that shaped civilizations.
Amidst all this growth, to help develop and promote responsible tourism in the country, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) is working with USAID’s Sustainable Tourism Development Project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or USAID Turizam, a project that aims to facilitate tourism-driven economic growth and social harmony within Bosnia and Herzegovina. These collaborative efforts have included standardized training for adventure travel guides, increased industry networking to meet the growing demand for adventure tourism in the country, and a financial initiative to ensure that rural economies and small towns receive support for tourism development.
Several projects, such as the development of unique experiences in different parts of the country and a series of familiarization tours for international media and tour operators, have already begun. The highest priority is the availability of well-trained adventure travel guides and increased industry networking to meet the growing demand for such travel. Last year, Turizam began providing educational resources to the companies it works with and translated the ATTA’s Adventure Travel Guide Standards into bosnian, making it available to most Western Balkan countries. Turizam also worked to make the standards available to their business partners and guides. This year, the ongoing partnership between ATTA and USAID BiH includes access to ATTA’s OnlineEDU courses and ATTA membership for 40 participants.
“We see great collaboration across the Western Balkans, and ATTA has been present in the region for a decade,” said Gergana Nikolova, ATTA Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “We started with an in-person training in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2013, followed by a Adventure Week in 2014 in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia in 2014, then held AdventureNEXT Balkans in 2016 with the participation of 12 destinations in South-Eastern Europe.
In response to the need for increased networking opportunities, USAID Turizam recently hosted the ReShape Adventure event in Vlasic on April 25, 2023 to address emerging trends in adventure tourism. ATTA was represented at the conference by Community VP Mira Poling Anselmi, who presented the latest information on industry trends and statistics and urged the audience to build new business relationships to take advantage of the growing adventure travel industry. Anselmi also amplified the message sent to operators for some time: travelers are increasingly concerned about their environmental impact.
“It was really exciting for us to work with an emerging adventure destination like Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Anselmi said. “The natural and cultural assets are all there, and they are very thoughtful and strategic about how they develop their adventure market, using all the tools offered by ATTA, so that they can avoid some of the common pitfalls and build in a way that is going to be durable for a long time.
As more and more eyes turn to BiH for its cultural experiences and beautiful landscapes, the country will need to carefully manage a growing influx of travellers. With an ongoing partnership between ATTA and Turizam, efforts to implement sustainable practices will better equip the destination for the growing demand for adventure travel in the future.
In an effort to position Bosnia and Herzegovina as a competitive destination in the global marketplace, USAID’s Sustainable Tourism Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Turizam) project works to advance human capital in the tourism sector, improving access to finance for tourism businesses, developing tourism products, harmonizing policies and regulations, and revolutionizing destination branding and promotion.
Through a comprehensive approach to sustainable tourism development, USAID Turizam will contribute to economic growth and social harmony in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For more information, visit https://turizambih.ba/.