BOSNIA MAKES WTM DEBUT
The former Yugoslavian republic makes its appearance at ExCeL London between Monday 12-Thursday 15 November as part of a new drive to attract tourists. The country is wary of the fact that many potential visitors have a negative view of the destination because of its bitter civil war of the 1990s.
Fiona Jeffery, Managing Director of World Travel Market said:” We are delighted to welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the perfect global business backdrop for them to profile their strengths as a new and exciting destination with a great deal to offer the industry worldwide.
“B&H Tourism Association has recently stepped up efforts to woo the trade because of its concern of a low level of awareness of the country among European tour operators. We look forward to working with them and re-establishing them on the global tourism map.”
B&H Tourism Association’s own research, conducted among 56 operators across Europe, the US and Canada, revealed the majority were unaware of its main attractions or selling points. Surprisingly, many still had concerns about the safety of travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina – despite the fact the war ended more than a decade ago.
Efforts to increase its inclusion in tour operators’ brochures began close to home at the beginning of 2007, with B&H hosting fam trips for travel executives from Spain, Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic and UK.
The appearance at World Travel Market marks a concerted attempt to spread its influence wider.
Culture, nature and historical attractions will be top of the list for the B&H delegation keen to sell the nation as Europe’s ‘hidden secret’.
The country’s mountains have a developed infrastructure for hikers and skiers. The Tara Canyon, second only in size to the Grand Canyon, is sure to feature heavily.
Top of the country’s many historical attractions is the medieval Old Bridge in Mostar, restored to its former glory by international donations after being destroyed in the war.
The bridge was reopened in a glittering ceremony in July 2004, and subsequently placed named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient town of Mostar has also been significantly restored.
The country will also be highlighting the wine-producing region of Herzegovina and the primeval forests of the Sutjeska National Park, both of which its sees as perfect short-break attractions for clients taking in Sarajevo.
The capital city’s internationally famous Sarajevo Film Festival, held in August for past 16 years, is also seen as a major draw, particularly following the introduction of a direct British Airways flight from Gatwick to Sarajevo.
“For most of its history, B&H has been at the crossroads of where Eastern and Western cultures have come,” said Arna Ugljen-Kopic, spokesperson of the B&H Tourism Association.
“There are few places in the world that can boast of having an Orthodox and Catholic Church, a Mosque and a Synagogue all close to each other like Sarajevo has. “
Adventure sports such as hiking, skiing and white-water rafting are expected to feature highly on the stand, with B&H taking particular pride in the clear waters of the Tara, Vrbas, Neretva and Una rivers. All have white-water operators certified by the International Rafting Federation, and the country is host to the World Rafting Championship in 2009.
The region has a rich history of the sport, with English eccentric George Edward McKenzie Skues (recognized as the world’s greatest ever trout fisherman) mentioning the Pliva river and its fishing families in his acclaimed 19th century book on the subject, and is already proving popular with visitors from Scandinavia, France and Germany.
Alongside its attractions, World Travel Market delegates will get to hear how B&H is working to improve its product as it tries to achieve 5% growth annually for the next 10 years. International investment has been pouring into B&H in recent years (€2.25 billion in 2006; €2.85 billion in the first six months of 2007, according to official figures).
“The government and private sector in B&H increasingly recognise tourism as a driving force in the country’s economic development, and are united in their efforts to promote this important area of the economy,” said Ugljen-Kopic.
Professional certification for adventure sports suppliers have been set up, while new regulations in the hotels and restaurant sector are being introduced.
A consumer website promoting the country www.bhtourism.ba has also been introduced.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading organiser of exhibitions and conferences. Reed brings together over 90,000 suppliers and more than 5.5 million buyers from around the world every year generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held in 38 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, and organised by 33 fully staffed offices.
Reed’s portfolio of over 460 events serves 52 industry sectors, including:
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Working closely with professional bodies, trade associations and government departments Reed ensures that each and every event is targeted and relevant to industry needs. As a result, many Reed events are market leaders in their field.
Reed Exhibitions is part of Reed Elsevier, a FTSE 100 company and world-leading publisher and information provider, with revenues in excess of £4.8 billion (US$ 8.4 billion) (2004).
Reed Travel Exhibitions organise 17 events worldwide, including World Travel Market, Arabian Travel Market, C.I.S. Travel Market, EIBTM, British Travel Trade Fair, Asia Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME), International Golf Travel Market, Top Resa, Mediterranean Travel Fair, ICCA Exhibition, in association with the ICCA Congress, International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), La Cumbre, City Break, China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM), Latin American & Caribbean Incentive & Meetings Exhibition (LACIME), Gulf Incentive Business Travel & Meetings (GIBTM) and Asia Luxury Travel Market (ALTM).
For further press information, please visit the Reed Travel Exhibitions’ website on www.reedtravelexhibitions.com
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