The tourism sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the few bright spots on the country’s economic radar. Although encouraging, the tourism industry’s performance remains far below potential. This can be attributed to a variety of challenges such as underdevelopment and inadequate management of many tourism sites and tourism infrastructure and still lacking global image of BiH that has not been addressed by an effective country branding and marketing campaign.
Via Dinarica connects seven countries and territories that encompass the Dinaric Alps mountain range: from Slovenia to Albania. It is a platform that serves to develop local communities and small businesses in the field of hospitality and outdoor tourism service provision at a local, national, and international level, as well as to promote nature based outdoor tourism and cultural heritage.
The first phase of the project, funded by USAID and UNDP (2014 – 2017), focused on the portion of the mountain range in BiH, which is the heart of the whole Via Dinarica, and was implemented in cooperation with the national partners.
Throughout the project implementation it has become obvious that Via Dinarica holds the potential to be further developed and affirmed as a world-class hiking and outdoor adventure trail. Via Dinarica in Bosnia and Herzegovina came under the spotlight through featuring in publications produced within the project, while our partners from USAID REG project were responsible for publishing stories about the trail in global travel media, such as Guardian, Lonely Planet, Vouge, Outside magazine and also for Via Dinarica being listed among Best Trips in 2017 by National Geographic Traveler.
Recognizing the potential, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and USAID, together with national partners, decided to support implementation of the second phase of the Via Dinarica Project. In the new phase of the Project local communities are yet to fully capitalize on the economic opportunities offered by the Via Dinarica tourism product. Further support is needed to translate the existing potentials into higher income opportunities and creation of more jobs.
What we do?
The second phase of the Via Dinarica project will further economic development opportunities in BiH by supporting sustainable nature-based tourism development. The aim is to establish the Via Dinarica corridor, with its three major trails – the White, the Green and the Blue Trails - as a community-owned and operated tourism product that provides sustainable livelihoods for a broad range of stakeholders. To accomplish this Via Dinarica project will:
- Increase accessibility and improve safety of Via Dinarica trails in BiH;
- Affirm Via Dinarica as a tourism brand;
- Support Via Dinarica through strategic and financial governance measures;
- Enhance economic opportunities and livelihoods along Via Dinarica by integrating local products into tourism offer;
- Upgrade tourism infrastructure and diversify / consolidate tourism services strengthening Via Dinarica competitiveness.
Results to date
Some of the major results achieved in the first phase of Via Dinarica project are:
- More than 800 km of the Via Dinarica trails marked in BiH;
- 29 mountain huts/lodges/shelters and 21 B&B reconstructed/established and now offer more than 1000 beds as accommodation capacity in the mountain areas in BiH;
- 25 service providers enriched Via Dinarica nature-based tourism offer along the Trails with rafting, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, caving, fly fishing and other activities, while over 100 different organizations strengthened their management, service delivery and eco-tourism capacities;
- More than 92,000 tourists used the services of Via Dinarica project direct beneficiaries in BiH;
- The project generated 95 new jobs (6 full-time and 89 seasonal), out of which 42 (or 44%) for women;
- A promotional Via Dinarica video produced, and Hiking the White Trail in Bosnia and Herzegovina Bradt Travel Guide created and available world-wide.
Following is planned to be achieved in the second project phase:
- 700 km of Via Dinarica trails regularly maintained in cooperation with local mountaineering associations,
- Additional 500 km of Via Dinarica trails GPS and physically marked and 4 volunteering camps organized,
- Safety measures implemented along the 10 locations on the trails and Leading Quality Trail certification process for the White Trail continued with European Rambling Association,
- 8 Via Dinarica specific value chains identified and supported via grant scheme,
- Over 50 small businesses on Via Dinarica trails supported via grant scheme to enhance diversification of tourism offer,
- Over 80 full time, part-time and seasonal jobs created,
- A stocktaking of Via Dinarica stakeholders and resources conducted in Albania and Kosovo*,
- Technical support secured to partner ministries to design and deliver public financial schemes,
- Engagement of 20 local authorities in improving Via Dinarica services and infrastructure ensured,
- Via Dinarica web platform regularly maintained and updated,
- Establishment of 3 Via Dinarica information, promotion and service hubs supported,
- Via Dinarica Support Centre in BiH introduced and capacitated.
*All references to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)
- Support sustainable rehabilitation and valorization of public and private tourism assets along the Trails, and increase its competitiveness in the global tourism market;
- Increase the value of current destinations on Via Dinarica trails through improved quality of tourist accommodation / facilities, infrastructure services;
- Continue boosting skills and capacities of local social, economic and public stakeholders to develop sustainable and integrated tourism business practices, directly helping local employability and income generation;
- Promote the Via Dinarica and the abundance of its natural and cultural resource potential, reinvigorating the image of the country and the region.
After accomplishing the above-stated goals:
- Via Dinarica will be affirmed as a safe and internationally recognized tourism platform for sustainable tourism development and local economic growth and
- Local communities will be empowered to pursue rural enterprise development.
Some of the major results achieved in the second phase of Via Dinarica project are:
- Over 1,000 km of Via Dinarica trails maintained.
- Over 550 km of new Via Dinarica trails marked.
- 31 full-time jobs created (18 for women and 13 for men).
- 42 part-time jobs created (18 for women and 24 for men).
- Over 50 jobs sustained (19 for women and 31 for men)
- 61 nature-based tourism service providers supported with grants and technical assistance
- 24 producers and processors of domestic products and 3 selling points supported with grants and technical assistance to make them integral part of Via Dinarica offer
- Ministry of Environment and Tourism Federation BiH contributed over 230,000 USD to Via Dinarica
- The 18 partner LGs contributed over 500,000 USD to Via Dinarica
- Over 1 million USD invested in tourism services and public tourism infrastructure development in the 18 partner LGs
- 18 infrastructure projects supporting nature-based tourism implemented in the 18 partner LGs
- 3 Via Dinarica hubs established
- Basic infrastructure in place for Via Dinarica Support Centre led by Terra Dinarica to provide for sustainability of Via Dinarica initiative
- Three umbrella voluntary rescue services organizations in BIH equipped and capacitated to improve safety
Project start date
Project end date
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Italian Agency for Development Cooperation - 1,190,000 USD
USAID - 999,671 USD
UNDP and national/local partners - 435,960 USD
Rural and Regional Development
- Italian Agency for Development Cooperation,
- U.S. Agency for International Development,
- BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations,
- Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
- Ministry of Trade and Tourism of Republika Srpska,
- local governments,
- civil society organizations,
- tourism-related private sector.
United Nations Development Programme
GOVERNMENT OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
GOVERNMENT OF ITALY
UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID)
DELIVERY IN PREVIOUS YEARS