Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sarajevo, Bosnia experiancing a tourism boom this year.

Bosnia is experiencing a tourism boom lately, in May alone the country had almost 50,000 visitors and more are expected this summer. As someone who has visited Bosnia many times since the war I have seen the changes myself first hand. After the war there was almost no visitors to Bosnia, except the troves of international officials, IFOR, SFOR soldiers and NGO's. This was the case up until about five or six years ago when I started seeing a trickle of tourists coming into the country. When visiting Bosnia last year it was a startling change, there were young western tourists everywhere, Sarajevo and Mostar were packed with tourists and I am sure the trail from the Croatian coast to Medjagurje are littered with visitors.
Bosnia is working on some unique projects for the future as well, next year is the 20th anniversary of the Bosnian war and in 2014 the 100 year anniversary of WWI.
One thing I really noticed was all the Bosnian American children who left because of the war and spend their summers back home. They are genuine American kids and they have grown up right before our eyes, more American than Bosnian at this point, no matter what the parents do to try and keep the heritage alive.
Bosnia's history is filled with accommodating travellers as a cross roads of civilizations throughout it's history, has ingrained in it's people a spirit of openness and kindness towards strangers rarely seen in other cultures. It truly is one of the most memorable things most people take away from a visit to Bosnia and the Balkans. The recent history of the 1984 Olympics, the open policy of Tito were many Yugoslavs travelled and worked abroad and the war when many strangers were intruding upon the sadness and misery of war to show to the world, has made Bosnians very accustomed to visitors to their country. Even taking pictures of strangers isn't seen in quite the same light in BiH as in most cultures, during the war camera men set up waiting on street corners hoping to get a great picture of you getting shot crossing a street with the sign "Pazi Snajper" in the background.
For many the fear of war has now been replaced with the intrigue and lure of Sarajevo and Bosnia. Some finally feel comfortable enough to finally visit this beautiful country and they are lucky if they do. There are few places as special as Bosnia and Sarajevo in the world.

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