It is a well-known fact that diaspora contributes to the development of BiH in multiple ways: through investments, trade, knowledge transfer, remittances, consumption in BiH and in many other ways. The role of diaspora in the development of tourism in BiH has not yet been adequately recognized or visible, although the tourism sector is one of the most attractive branches of the economy in BiH for diaspora investments. At the same time, diaspora represents an important group that regularly use the tourist services offered in BiH, and act as intermediaries that contribute to the increased visits of foreign tourists to BiH.
There are no official data on the volume of diaspora investments in the tourism sector in BiH, or on the number of diaspora tourist visits to BiH. However, it is known that hundreds of thousands of diaspora members regularly visit BiH, which significantly contributes to the increase of the number of tourists and keeps a number of hospitality services in BiH alive.
In implementing the Policy on Cooperation with Diaspora, a document adopted by the Council of Ministers of BiH in 2017, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH has been taking activities to implement measure 2.4. Improving cooperation in the field of economy, education, science, culture and sports with diaspora, which, among other things, anticipates the promotion of tourist potentials through diaspora. Part of the activities is related to research, which led to conducting a survey among members of the diaspora on the role and potential of diaspora for the development of tourism in BiH.
The majority of the diaspora respondents have already used tourist services offered in BiH – visited tourist destinations, consumed domestic products and catering services. Fifty percent of the respondents visit national parks and historical sites in BiH, 40% of them practice cultural tourism, while 40% go hiking, rafting and practice sports and recreational tourism. Hairdresser’s and beautician services in BiH are used by about 65% of diaspora respondents and health care services are used by almost 40% of the diaspora respondents.
When it comes to satisfaction with the existing tourist offer in BiH, the majority of diaspora respondents are satisfied with the natural beauty of BiH and the pricing, while less than one third of them are satisfied with the quality of the services and tourist offers.
In terms of consumption of tourist offers in BiH, the interest of diaspora lies mostly in visiting tourist destinations, consuming domestic products, visiting national parks and historical sites. More than half of the respondents are interested in hiking, rafting and sports and recreational tourism, as well as in cultural tourism.
Regarding the improvement of diaspora tourism, most respondents believe that the promotion and information sharing is the most important aspect of such improvement, as is the recognition of diaspora as an important target group for tourism development in BiH – both as prospective investors and as special target group –consumers of tourism, that is, as tourists.
According to the respondents, for greater diaspora investments in the tourism sector in BiH, the most important are the quality of service provided by the local authorities in BiH, generally better information dissemination and promotion, and recognition of diaspora as an important investor in the tourism sector in BiH.