Sports tourism attracted the most guests to Herzegovina in the first quarter – Pre-pandemic figures are expected for 2024

Every year, Herzegovina is visited by an increasing number of tourists who have recently shown a great interest in sports tourism, but this region, like other European tourist destinations, is facing a labor shortage, so landlords and owners of catering establishments are forced to look for workers from other countries,  reports the portal Depo writing agency Fena .

– Given that Herzegovina has significantly developed forms of tourism such as religious, bathing, cultural-urban and sports, in the context of arrivals outside the summer tourist season, it should be said that the sports form of tourism attracted the most guests in the first quarter of this year. For all other forms of tourism present in Herzegovina, the most significant time period in terms of significant tourist traffic is spring-autumn – said Anđelko Maslać, acting director of the Tourist Board of HNŽ in an interview for Fena.

As he says, they don’t have concrete indicators yet, but they are systematically working on linking all destinations in order to have accurate indicators of arrivals, stays, overnight stays, as well as the movement of guests in the future.

Information obtained from the business tourism sector and from past fairs indicate that this tourist season will be good, and it is expected that it will exceed last year’s total tourist traffic in HNŽ.

It is realistic to expect that tourism this year will surpass the pre-pandemic results in terms of total tourist traffic.

According to the data available to the TZ of HNŽ, the tourist year 2023 was more successful than the previous one and is approximately similar to the record year 2019 in terms of the number of visitors and overnight stays, notes Maslać.
As he says, the first quarter is slightly better than the same observed period last year.

– In addition to the constant engagement of our tourism workers in the tourism market, it can be said that the milder winters in the Mediterranean are one of the more important reasons for the change in trends in tourist trips and offers in this area, so it can be expected that future investments and contents in tourism will follow these trends – adds the acting director of the Tourist Board of HNŽ.

Medjugorje attracted pilgrims from over 100 countries.

The previously mentioned forms of tourism largely determine the structure of the guests and their origin. Međugorje as a pilgrimage destination has so far attracted pilgrims from over a hundred countries around the world, while Mostar, Neum and our other destinations are mostly visited by tourists from Central European countries and neighboring countries. With the fact that Mostar has made significant strides in this matter, there are frequent guests from distant countries and the Middle East, says Maslać.

Today’s world transport connectivity, he continues, ensures the availability of every destination, so that the increasingly strong positioning of Herzegovina on the tourist map of the world will bring changes in the current structure of guests in Herzegovina, as well as in the offer.

Asked what the expectations are for this season, he answers that, according to information received from the professional sector in tourism and from past world and regional fairs, this tourist year should surpass the last in all parameters.

– Although we live in a restless world, the macro-tourism region of the Mediterranean is currently a kind of safety oasis for potential tourists, and this will certainly affect Herzegovina as a Mediterranean region. In this sense, and considering that Herzegovina has already become a real tourist destination in terms of attractions, accommodation capacities and attendance, above-average occupancy of all tourist facilities and stronger overall tourist traffic is expected this season – he notes.

Entrance fee to the Old Town in Mostar? When asked if there is a plan to charge for entry to the Old Town in Mostar, he says that the entrance is still free, but that there were certain considerations regarding the regulation of entry into the Old Town during the summer season.

– However, so far no serious discussion has been initiated on this matter, so the arrivals and all conditions of stay of tourists in Mostar remain the same. The Tourist Board of the City of Mostar has taken over the future formal activity and organization of tourism in the City of Mostar, and we believe that they will consider this possibility in due time – adds Maslać.

As for tourist consumption, he says that it differs from destination to destination in Herzegovina. In the pilgrimage destination of Međugorje, which is mostly visited by group guests with a full or half-board arrangement, there is not much space left for non-board spending, so it can be said that spending there is modest, i.e. a maximum of 30 EUR per person.

On the other hand, Neum, as a bathing-summer destination, has a higher non-boarding consumption and it would amount to around 50 EUR per person on average. In this context, Mostar can be said to have the highest non-boarding consumption because it is a specific form of tourism, and thus the specific needs and preferences of guests, and the average consumption would be over EUR 50 per person.

Tourists still stay in Herzegovina for an average of two to three days, and excursionists usually stay up to 5 hours on average.

Labor deficit When it comes to the labor force, he points out that the deficit of professional labor in the tourism and hospitality industry has become a problem for tourism and hospitality companies and trades.

Practically all occupations from this sector are in demand and it is difficult to fill vacant positions and needs. Because of this, the Herzegovinian tourism and hospitality sector is forced to look for workers in neighboring countries, and often from distant countries. Occupations such as waiter, cook, assistant cook, confectioner, receptionist, guide, trader, driver, etc., are the most sought-after occupations during the tourist season, says Maslać, adding that this problem definitely requires a serious and systematic approach to solving it.

Potentials of Mostar Airport

The growth in the number of tourists was also brought about by connecting Mostar with several Italian cities, Zagreb and Belgrade through the introduction of direct air lines.
Air accessibility is a condition for the development of a certain economic region, including the tourist region of Herzegovina. The introduction of new airlines this year and the connection of Herzegovina with international airports in the surrounding area and in Europe will greatly contribute to the increase in the number of visitors to this part of the Mediterranean by air this tourist season, Maslać points out.

He also maintains that no economic region, including no tourist destination, should lose sight of the fact that transport connections are one of the key factors of development.

According to him, the modern tourist is used to having the option of transportation by air to the desired destination, so this year the Herzegovinian authorities took the most serious approach to connecting Mostar Airport with international airports, thus making a significant contribution to the availability of Herzegovina on the tourist market.

– Mostar Airport has finally been recognized as an important and indispensable connecting segment, which we hope will be confirmed in the years ahead. Mostar Airport has enormous potential and we believe that it will finally meet everyone’s expectations – the Acting Director of the Tourist Board of HNŽ points out, stressing that the tourist policy of the Herzegovina region should take stronger measures to ensure an even greater role of air transport in the availability of Herzegovina as a tourist destination because Mostar Airport is trained for much greater use of its infrastructure.

Through Herzegovina, from the

Za kraj armchair, he reminded that the Tourist Board of HNŽ, as part of its marketing activities, performed at all major world and regional tourism fairs held on the European continent.

– In addition to all the promotional tools that are used, we should single out the product Virtual Tour Herzegovina, which the TZ of HNŽ made available through its website. With this product, the tourist board has enabled potential tourists from Herzegovina to explore, plan and enjoy the beauty of Herzegovina’s natural and social tourist attractions and values ​​in a new way – from the comfort of their home or any other place – concludes Maslać.