Sarajevo Tourism Festival is a long-standing fair organized by Public Enterprise Center “Skenderija” from19th to 21st October 2017.
This was the combination of the 39th International tourism and touristic stock market and the 6th International hotel and catering equipment and catering fair in one extraordinary event.
Total 75 exhibitors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, Indonesia, and India presented visitors their work, numerous natural beauties, tourist offers and tourist accommodation capacities.
The organization of the tourism festival was supported by the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Sarajevo Canton Tourist Board and the City Administration of Sarajevo. The partner country was India.
Inspirational Exhibitors and Presentations
During my stay on the tourism festival as an exhibitor of my blog and while researching for an article about this event, I had an opportunity to meet a lot of inspiring people and enjoy a very rich content of the fair. For instance presentations, performances, films, professional conferences to a rock concert.
I have talked with numerous exhibitors about the creation and development of their travel agencies, companies, hotels, etc. Most importantly, they explained how much effort, patience, and love they invested and still investing in order to achieve success, and to be recognized by domestic and foreign tourists.
Paradise Hotel and Resort Potocani
I talked with a manager of a small hotel and restaurant “Paradise”, located in a natural setting, 8 kilometers from Bugojno, in Potocani. Next to the hotel is the California trout fish farm, which gives all visitors chance to taste fresh trout and enjoy the view of dense forest and plantation of raspberries of over 56 dunums (5.6 hectares), one of the three largest plantations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Of course, there is also juice and raspberry cakes, as well as an opportunity to pick the fresh raspberries by themselves.
Rafting on Neretva River: Tudupraft Konjic
The proof that young people can start their business in Bosnia and Herzegovina and be successful in it is the rafting club “Tudupraft” from Konjic.
The next exhibitor on the tourism festival who presented his business to me was Eldin Gakic, a rafting guide, and owner of Tudupraft. I met Eldin when I was on the training for adventure guides. On the training, I saw he is certainly very passionate and eager to learn every day.
In nine years of the existence of his agency, this hardworking guy succeeded to develop and greatly improve his business. “I bought a couple of dunums of land and I begin construction of modern rafting camp”, Eldin said with a big smile on his face. He managed to accomplish all this by working every day and increasing his knowledge through numerous seminars and training.
Although the main activity offered by this agency is rafting on the river Neretva, in addition, you have the opportunity to try many other activities such as canoeing, canyoning, trekking, hydrospeed, motocross, team building, mountain bike, and Tito’s bunker tour.
Regional tourist agency: Jungle Tribe
One very unusual team I had the opportunity to meet on the festival is Jungle Tribe, a tourist agency that deals with the organization of trips to many distant, exotic destinations. Currently, they are leaders for this kind of trips in the region.
Apart from Sarajevo, they are located in Belgrade, Zagreb, and Skopje, and thus cover a large part of the Balkans. The prices of the arrangement are extremely affordable and there is a possibility of payment on installments. It is interesting that the “Jungle tribe” also organizes honeymoon trips for newlyweds tailored according to their wishes and based on their budget. What really thrilled me is that this agency is made up of young people, who will surely delight you with their enthusiasm, knowledge, effort and complete your journey.
These are just some of the many, very interesting exhibitors at this year’s fair, about whose offers all visitors could get information.
Presentations & Performances on Sarajevo Tourism Festival
Via Dinarica Mega-Hiking Trail
Also, everyone could attend various presentations in which exhibitors presented themselves and their projects. One very interesting project presented by the NGO Terra Dinarica is Via Dinarica, a mega hiking trail that follows the Dinarides mountain range from Slovenia to Albania. This trail connects all natural and cultural sights.
It is very important to note that the prestigious National Geographic Traveler ranked Via Dinarica among the top seven destinations in the world in the Nature category for 2017. Something, on what Bosnia and Herzegovina, and all the countries of the region through which this mega hiking trail passes can be very proud of.
Indian dance Kathak
The performance of the traditional Indian dance (Kathak) and beautiful relaxing music brought to visitors a “feel” of India. Also, one evening was reserved for the screening of a very educative, interesting and humoristic Indian movie “3 Idiots” in the Youth House.
Laborer's Cultural-Artistic Society "Proleter"
All the visitors of Sarajevo tourism festival had the opportunity to enjoy in the performance of the folklore ensemble of the Laborer’s Cultural-Artistic Society “Proleter”.
In the small wooden houses on the plateau of Public Enterprise Center “Skenderija” was organized tasting and sale of domestic products from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s always best to buy directly from local manufacturers. Eat healthily and support local production!
Digital Technologies and Tourism
Something new and very useful at this year’s fair was the expert conference “Digital Technology and Tourism”, which attracted a large number of visitors.
Lecturers and panel speakers were professors and representatives of the tourism and public sector. They talked about the importance of digital marketing for tourism. Why we need to define goals and indicators when moving to e-marketing, why we go online, how much and why are online reviews important, why applications are necessary, etc.
Prof. Dr. Almir Pestek, who led the presentation “The Importance and Role of Digital Marketing in Tourism”, pointed out that it is very important for all representatives of the tourism sector to know why they are going online, what are their goals, know what tourists want, and always “promise less and deliver more “. These are just some “recipes” that are very important for the promotion of online tourist offers, which we I the opportunity to hear during the conference.
Tourist Operators in Digital Age
Panel speakers discussed: how well the tourism companies and organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina are prepared for the digital age, the coherence of the education system and the needs of modern tourism, whether we know the needs of tourists, and the impact of sharing economy on tourism. Just a few of many interesting topics on this year’s tourism festival.
I had the opportunity to talk with one of the panel speakers, Mr. Mili Bijavica, the director of the tourist agency Fortuna Tours from Mostar. Tourism is increasingly developing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But, with the arrival of large number of tourists, it is necessary that “the competent state institutions solve the problem of parking spaces for buses that are coming with large groups of tourists, especially when talking about Sarajevo, and to stop the constant increase in ticket prices for mosques, museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions “, Bijavica pointed out.
Together time in Sunnyland
After the conference for all participants has been organized a tour to the “Sunnyland” entertainment park on Trebević. Just 10 minutes’ drive from the city center.
We enjoyed the sunset over Sarajevo and autumn hues while having delicious snack and drinks. For the end of this gathering we went on a group drive on the alpine roller coaster and, of course, had a group photo. To the Sunnyland and back we were transportated in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus was provided by the travel agency “Centrotours” from Sarajevo.
This year’s “Sarajevo Tourism Festival” fair ended with a concert of the bands Konvoj and Prorock’s on Saturday night. The entrance to this event was free.
The Importance of Tourism Festivals and the Future of Tourism
During three days of the fair, exhibitors had a chance to learn more about digital marketing and make new acquaintances, thus improving their business and opening doors for new collaborations.
I hope from now there will be more similar events in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which aim to promote, support, further educate and interconnect all tourist companies, agencies, tour operators and bloggers. All those who are promoting the natural and cultural-historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.
Today, when more and more tourists are coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina it is very important that the government and we as individuals only support the sustainable development of tourism. Why? Because we are often misled by an increased number of tourists, and we can forget or neglect the reason why they all come: natural and cultural wealth.
We need to support and promote all stakeholders in tourism that are ecologically and socially aware. All those who optimally use natural resources without destroying ecological processes, natural heritage and biodiversity. Those who take care of preserving cultural heritage and traditional values. And let’s not forget those who support the employment of the local population and the sale of local products.
Let’s keep what we have so that our future generations and tourists can enjoy all the natural and cultural treasures we enjoy.