The role of the diaspora in the development of tourism
The increase in migration, easier communication and cheap transport have led to the development of a new form of tourism around the world. Diaspora communities around the world have created a new branch of tourism – diaspora tourism, which basically includes visits to relatives and friends in the country of origin combined with tours, health-, religious-, eco- and ethno tourism, as well as other forms of tourism. Diaspora tourism can encourage investments in the tourism sector and the opening of new businesses, including tourist companies, by members of the diaspora or their associates. A number of studies carried out globally indicate that there are multiple benefits in attracting visitors from diaspora communities to their countries of origin. These studies suggest that there is a unique and important role that members of the diaspora can play in opening markets in receiving countries for tourist destinations in countries of origin and for goods produced in the countries of origin.
The role of the diaspora in the development of tourism in the country of origin is multiple: members of the diaspora are consumers of the tourist offer, intermediaries who contribute to the increase of foreign tourist visits, and investors in the tourism sector in the country of origin.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is considered to be one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Europe, and official data on the number of tourists indicate that Bosnia and Herzegovina, until the COVID-19 pandemic, was visited by three times more tourists than ten years ago. Diaspora tourism has been on the increase and members of the diaspora make a large share in the structure of foreign and domestic tourists. Members of the diaspora are also best ambassadors and promoters of tourist resources of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and some of them are also intermediaries in bringing foreign tourists to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, the data indicate that tourism is one of the most attractive sectors for diaspora investments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Given that the estimated total number of people originating from Bosnia and Herzegovina living abroad is between 2 and 2.2 million, the diaspora represents an enormous potential for the development of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conference “Bosnia and Herzegovina in Heart: Diaspora and Tourism” is an opportunity to promote success stories about the contribution of the BiH diaspora to the development of tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina and present the possibilities of greater involvement of the diaspora in the further development of tourism.
Third BiH Diaspora Conference: Bosnia and Herzegovina in Heart: Diaspora and Tourism is organized in a hybrid format within the Diaspora for Development project – a project by the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and the Swiss Government implemented in partnership with UNDP and IOM in BiH.
The Conference topic, Diaspora and Tourism, was chosen in order to contribute to the implementation of the document Policy on Cooperation with Diaspora, measure 2.4. Improve cooperation in the field of economy, education, science, culture and sports with diaspora, which includes the promotion of tourist potentials through diaspora. Examining the prospective role of diaspora in the development of BiH tourism, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH conducted a survey in 2019, including a survey among diaspora members. The survey showed that diaspora has a multifaceted role in tourism development in BiH: diaspora members are consumers of tourism, intermediaries who contribute to the increase in foreign tourists’ visits to BiH and investors in the tourism sector in BiH. The majority of survey participants believe that promotion and information dissemination are crucial for the improvement of diaspora tourism, as is the recognition of diaspora as an important target group for tourism development in BiH, while significant diaspora investments in the tourism sector in BiH require quality services by local authorities.
One of the recommendations of document Mapping Diaspora from Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted in 2018 within the project Diaspora for Development, is that BiH should strengthen diaspora tourism. Diaspora tourism is diverse and includes family visits, cultural tourism, health tourism and business travel, as well as bringing foreign tourists to BiH, and diaspora investments in the tourism sector.
Diaspora tourism has taken place in BiH in all its forms, mostly spontaneously, without a concrete plan and support, and without awareness of its importance and potential. Therefore, the Conference objectives are as follows:
- Contribute to the recognition of diaspora as one of the key target groups for the development of tourism in BiH: as tourists, intermediaries in the promotion of BiH tourism abroad and as investors in the tourism sector;
- Contribute to inclusion of diaspora in local efforts in the development of tourism in BiH and its recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Transfer of knowledge and experience from BiH diaspora in the field of tourism;
- Promote success stories about the contribution of diaspora to the development of tourism;
- Present the current role of diaspora in the development of tourism and potentials for further development;
- Contribute to the development of local actors’ capacities in the field of tourism in order to create preconditions for greater contribution of diaspora in the development of tourism in BiH;
- Contribute to networking between different stakeholders in tourism in diaspora communities and BiH.
The Conference is intended for members of the diaspora interested in the development of the BiH tourism sector, competent institutions in BiH, tourist boards, as well as tourism service providers.
The Conference panelists are diaspora members engaged in the development of BiH tourism, investors and tourism intermediaries, experts in the field of tourism and representatives of the public, private and academic sectors in BiH, experts from the World Tourism Organization and representatives of tourism projects being implemented in BiH.