Bosnia and Herzegovina: Europe's Hidden Jem?

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Europe’s Hidden Jem?

Bosnia has made great strides in many respects since the breakup of SFR Yugoslavia and the outbreak of the Balkan War. One of those leaps in growth has come from tourism, a major contributor to any nation’s economy. However, in comparison to several of the former Yugoslav republics, such as Croatia and Montenegro, Bosnia’s growth and offerings seems much more limited. At face value, one would have to agree, since Bosnia received the brunt of fighting during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Despite this, tourist numbers have continued to grow, while even mainstream travel guides have begun to notice what Bosnia and Herzegovina has to offer.

In 2010, Lonely Planet named Sarajevo as one of its top ten cities to visit in 2010, an indication that all the hard work to rebuild Bosnia is paying off. Tourist numbers seem to agree – according to the Federal Office of Statistics (in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina), both domestic and international tourists were up at least 10% year-over-year, for the first and second quarters.

Still, the amount of tourists pales to that of neighboring Croatia, were over eleven million people vacationed in 2008, compared to Bosnia’s 744,000. Similarly, over a million and a half tourists visited Montenegro in 2006.

The increasing number of tourists only gives further verification to the World Tourist Organisation’s prediction that Bosnia will have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world by 2020. With the rise in tourism, hopefully a rise in income will follow, something that many Bosnians need. The unemployment rate is officially put at around 40%, however actual numbers may be higher. With a better economy, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina will hopefully be put back on the right track to prosperity and reconciliation.

*Statistics from BH Federation Statistics Office, Croatian and Montenegrin Bureau of Tourism.