USAID Turizam at the First Sarajevo Tourism Summit!

The first tourism summit in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo, was held from April 25 to April 27, titled as “Sarajevo Tourism Summit.” This prestigious conference brought together experts in tourism, hotel management, and hospitality from the public and private sectors to discuss the current state of tourism in the region, new trends, share their experiences and knowledge, and present some new ideas for improving cooperation and further development of tourist destinations and the economy. The rich program of the two-day conference demonstrated that there is great potential for tourism development, as well as a desire to maximize that potential.

The role of USAID Turizam at the First Sarajevo Tourism Summit was twofold. USAID Turizam provided technical assistance, while project representatives were invited to participate in some of the panel discussions, as follows: USAID Turizam Chief of Party Feđa Begović, who presented project activities; Destination Competitiveness Team Leader Azra Džigal, who participated in the panel discussion “Investments in the Hospitality Industry – Trends with a Focus on the Region”; Tourism Product Development Team Leader Nina Kovač, who was one of the panelists on the topic “Employment, Education and Upskilling in Tourism – What Will We Do For The Workforce”; Destination Marketing Manager – Trade and Aviation Jusuf Jamakosmanović, who particpated in the panel “MICE Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”; and Tourism Visitor Experiences and Marketing Specialist Ruba Velagić, who presented the Herzegovina Wine Route, as part of the master show class.

The event drew over 300 participants, 20 programs, 55 lecturers, and delegates from ten countries, an impressive number given that it was the first event of its kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The organizers hope that the “Sarajevo Tourism Summit” will become a tradition, bringing together tourism experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region once a year.

Visit the official website for more information on the entire event:

About the panels in which USAID Turizam project representatives participated:

Feđa Begović, USAID Turizam Chief of Party: USAID Turizam project presentation

  • Feđa Begović, USAID Turizam Chief of Party, presented the activities and goals of the USAID’s Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Turizam), with a particular emphasis on increasing tourist consumption and attracting a greater number of foreign tourists. The project, with a team of over 30 professionals in three offices located in Sarajevo, Banja Luka, and Mostar, as well as domestic and foreign consultants from various fields, has both the human and material capacity to achieve its goal of creating a sustainable tourist destination that can contribute to the country’s economic growth.

Azra Džigal, Destination Competitiveness Team Leader: “Investments in the Hospitality Industry – Trends with a Focus on the Region”

  • Azra Džigal, Destination Competitiveness Team Leader, took part in a panel discussion about tourism investments. This panel clarified that World Economic Forum indicators, such as the Travel and Tourism Development Index, play an essential role in bringing in investments. It is critical to distinguish between public and private sector infrastructure investments, with a special emphasis on the public sector, which must provide investments in road infrastructure, such as air, road, and rail transport, as well as tourist services such as ATMs, Wi-Fi networks, medical services, and so on. It is essential to emphasize that both the public and private sectors must invest in human capital. It is critical that Bosnia and Herzegovina has ready investment projects as well as ready legal documentation, with guaranteed legal conditions such as spatial planning documentation as well as quick issuance of certificates. In the previous period, the team led by Azra Džigal was the initiator of cooperation with banks, which now offer special lines of financing for tourism businesses (MSEs), and the USAID Tourism project launched the first online platform “Online Finance Directory” where you can find all information on the financing of tourist businesses.

Nina Kovač, Tourism Product Development Team Leader: “Employment, Education and Upskilling in Tourism – What Will We Do For The Workforce”

  • Nina Kovač, Tourism Product Development Team Leader, participated in panel dedicated to the human capital development in tourism sector. As part of this panel, she presented the results of analysis conducted by USAID Turizam – Human Capital in Tourism Sector 2021 – 2027. This assessment included an examination of the tourism sector’s employment and training requirements (demand) as well as an examination of tourism education and training (supply). Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tourism sector is facing numerous challenges as a result of rising demand for tourist services colliding with a decreasing supply of qualified workers. However, Nina pointed out that these are challenges that other countries face, such as Germany, the United States, and Croatia, and that some of the main reasons for this are: a negative image of tourism jobs, insufficient valorization of work; insufficient education and training programs in the profession; and finally, a lack of social recognition. However, there are still positive examples of long-term workforce development through activities implemented by USAID Turizam (short trainings at companies and outside vendors, the Turizam Academy, and systemic solutions through modernization of high school and university education). With a focus on the future of employment in tourism, Nina spoke about innovative practices and the creation of an inclusive environment, an initiative that the project team is actively working on: “Tourism for All.”

Jusuf Jamakosmanović, Destination Marketing Manager – Trade and Aviation: “MICE Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”

  • Jusuf Jamakosmanović, Destination Marketing Manager – Trade and Aviation, participated in the panel dedicated to MICE tourism, that brought together representatives of the tourism sector from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. The panel discussed the importance of the MICE industry and its wider impact on the tourism sector as a whole and economic development. Through numerous world fairs in which the USAID Tourism project has participated so far, it becomes clear that the MICE industry has a significant impact, not only on tourism, but we are talking about the so-called “Beyond Tourism Effect”, which is a real indicator that MICE tourism, bringing people together, actually creates a platform for networking, knowledge sharing and cooperation. Ultimately, this leads to the generation of new ideas, the creation of innovations and business opportunities, which significantly contributes to the growth of industries outside of tourism (i.e. tourism-related sectors).

Ruba Velagić, Tourism Visitor Experiences and Marketing Specialist: “Introduction to the Master Show Class – Presentation of the Herzegovina Wine Route”

  • Ruba Velagić, Tourism Visitor Experineces and Marketing Specialist, within the first edition of Sarajevo Tourism Summit held a presentation about the Herzegovina Wine Route. As a new member of the Cultural Route of the Council of Europe Iter Vitis – Le Chemins de la vigne, the Herzegovina Wine Route attracts attention at international fairs and has yet to be revealed to the world. This revitalized tourist product spans six Herzegovian cities and includes 29 wineries, more than 180 local attractions, four indigenous wine varieties, and a large number of traditional recipes that awakenes all of the senses. As part of this master’s class, Ruba Velagić spoke about the business and development and marketing plan that USAID Turizam worked on in cooperation with the Foreign Trade Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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