With China’s agreement on a mutual visa-free regime with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) going into effect on May 29, 2018, BiH authorities anticipate it will bring great number of Chinese tourists here, accompanied by enhanced bilateral relations with China.
At the sixth Meeting of Heads of Government of China-Central and Eastern European Countriesheld on Nov. 27, 2017 in Budapest, the capital Hungary, BiH expressed its willingness to enhance the existing bilateral and economic relations with China.
The agreement states that holders of valid ordinary passports of both countries’ citizens shall be exempted from visa requirement for entry into, exit from, stay in or transit through the territory of the other country during the period of stay up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
BiH Chairman of Council of Ministers Denis Zvizdic noted that the Agreement on mutual abolition of visas for ordinary passports holders will benefit BiH.
“I am convinced that this Agreement will open the doors for bigger arrival of Chinese tourists and enhance our economic, scientific and cultural cooperation,” Zvizdic said at the summit.
He emphasized that the number of Chinese tourists visiting BiH in 2017 has doubled, but pointed out on the need to extend the direct line Beijing-Prague-Belgrade route to Sarajevo, which will create the preconditions for further development of tourism.
BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic told local media on Wednesday that during 2016, there were some 17,000 Chinese tourists, and in 2017, the number of tourists was 30,000, adding that, by the abolition of visas, it is expected that the figures will continue to increase, reaching 50,000 tourists in 2018.
“In the last five years, the arrival of Chinese tourists in BiH has increased fivefold,” Sarovic said.
President of BiH Foreign Trade Chamber Ahmet Egrlic pointed out that people who visit BiH, including Chinese tourists, are generally satisfied. He added that how BiH treats visitors, from ordinary citizen, to the state level officials, depends their satisfaction, Egrlic told local media on Wednesday.
In average, Chinese tourists stay for two days in BiH, and the agreement on mutual abolition of visas will definitely open doors for easier travel of Chinese tourists to BiH and will extend their stay here, a tourist guide Amina Masic pointed out adding that there is a need to “brand” tourist destinations that Chinese tourists are visiting.
Chinese tourists generally visit the capital Sarajevo, and Tito’s bunker located some 60 kilometers southwest of Sarajevo, which is the atomic shelter made for Josip Broz Tito, the former president of Yugoslavia. Masic added that Chinese tourists are interested in visiting Old Bridge in Mostar city, located some 130 kilometers southwest of the capital Sarajevo, and other major BiH national monuments.
According to the latest information from BiH Agency for Statistics, 6, 161 Chinese tourists visited BiH from Jan. to April 2018, while at the same period last year, the number was 3, 464.
The abolition of visas between BiH and China is part of the Belt and Road Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is linking more than 65 countries.
Sarajevo Times, written by Zejna SY