Due to the failure to make a decision on the facilitated entry of tourists to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) at the last session of the Council of Ministers of BiH, dissatisfaction is growing across the country and hoteliers from Neum state that tourism is a victim of those who prevent the arrival of European tourists.
Branimir Butigan, the president of the Association of Hoteliers of the Municipality of Neum, told that in Neum during the last month they have been receiving daily inquiries on how to enter and leave BiH, and they cannot give adequate answers, which is why they are recording losses.
“The summer season has already begun, especially after the epidemic across the European Union (EU) was reduced, resulting in the opening of borders,” said Butigan, noting that was not the case with BiH.
As he points out, the tourist season in Neum, as the only city in BiH on the Adriatic, depends on predominantly European tourists who now experience major problems when it comes to arriving and leaving BiH, mostly due to maintaining “hard” borders, where tourists who are coming from the European area are being consciously neglected.
He stressed that in the municipality of Neum before the pandemic in 2019, statistical guests were from France 17%, Germany 16%, Poland 15%, Slovenia 10%, South Korea 7%, and Hungary in the overall ratio of 5%. There were practically no tourists from third countries or there was a negligible number of them.
“At this moment, we have no indication of the conditions that the Council of Ministers of BiH will determine as binding in this period when epidemiological conditions are such that the flow of people is possible, and every day, even hour, where we can not provide an adequate response to our partners, we experience great losses. The first cancellations of the entire series have already arrived, and the damage that will follow will be measured in millions of marks. We do not understand the ministers who voted against the decision on the entry of European tourists into BiH, which in our opinion is a crucial part related to tourism, especially in the context of Neum and Herzegovina, ” Butigan pointed out.
He thinks that it is necessary to show a strong will to make these things clear as soon as possible so that the tourism sector knows what to expect and what answer to give to its potential guests since the number of inquiries is increasing each day.
“It is necessary to change the regime of entry into BiH for European citizens as soon as possible so the tourism could survive by introducing 4 conditions for entry and that it is enough to meet one of these 4 conditions (PCR test, antigen test, a certificate that shows someone had Covid-19 – not older than 6 months, vaccination certificate), something similar that was done by the Republic of Croatia, which is even more dependent on the tourism sector and which has adapted the conditions of entry and stay to the current epidemiological situation. The entire BiH depends on that, we cannot be conditioned by visa liberalization so we would facilitate the entry of other countries that carried and will continue to carry the entire tourism, not only Neum but the whole BiH, ” told Butigan.
He emphasizes that Neum supports changing the conditions for crossing the border, following the example of what it is like in Croatia now. From Poland and France, we get daily inquiries for arrangements this summer, while Germans and Slovenes are asking for autumn arrangements.
“Apart from the fact that we are the only ones in the region who do not have a differentiated rate on tourism, such decisions and ultimatums definitely put us on the machines and endanger thousands of jobs, which will affect all other branches of the economy,” noted the president of the Neum Hoteliers Association, Klix.ba writes.
In the end, there is a question of whether those two hands that were against such a decision to change the conditions of entry into BiH for European citizens at the session of the Council of Ministers will be responsible for all losses and for a very certain job loss if there is no change of this decision?