9th SBF: Tourism Projects as Leading Development Opportunity for Region

Sarajevo Business Forum (SBF), the leading business and investment conference in the Southeastern Europe, was created as a platform for business networking with a unique goal of fostering economic development of the region, and this year it will focus on promoting tourism and utilizing new opportunities offered by the sector which has recorded a significant growth in recent decades.

On the second day of the Forum (April 26), Hotel Hills in Sarajevo will be the venue in which the participants will be presented with over 60 projects in the field of tourism. Submitted projects are related to both entire Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, and most of them deal with the construction of infrastructure facilities for the needs of the tourism industry. The projects include ideas for the construction of ethno villages, high end luxury hotels, SPA centers, bungalows, rural tourism capacities, ski resorts, promenades and bathing sites in the areas of Vlašić, Bjelašnica, Sutjeska, Jahorina, Bratunac, Kupres, Sarajevo, Drvar, Višegrad, Bihac, Čapljina, Bužim, Kostajnica, Tešanj, Neum ...

In addition to towns and their cultural and historical sites, an important part of Bosnia's tourist offer is a whole range of tourist offerings related to rivers, lakes, sea, wetlands and national parks.

Projects are made available to registered participants and investors through an online platform on sarajevobusinessforum.com website. This year, BBI Bank as the organizer of Sarajevo Business Forum, created a new online platform for arranging B2B business meetings for both local and international businessmen. In addition to this, project owners now have the opportunity to use the B2B desk to schedule meetings and presentations of their projects directly with the foreign investors on April 26.

In addition to the presentation of the projects, a panel discussion on "Tourism as a Rapid Growth Opportunity for SEE" will be organized for the purpose of promoting the region as an attractive tourist destination and discussing the significance of the joint creation of tourist projects and offers, as well as mutual cooperation. The panel will also focus on identifying the fastest growing tourism subsectors as well as on presenting the potential for new investments in the tourist infrastructure.

The introductory presentation will be given by Mayor of the City of Sarajevo, Mr. Abdulah Skaka, together with the moderator Branislav Miletić, Partner and Director of the Belgrade-based office of Horwath HTL as the leading global consulting company in the field of tourism and hotel management. Some of the panelists are Jawad Yousuf Al Hawaj, President of the Al Hawaj Group, who also serves as the President of the Bosnian -Bahrain Society from the Kingdom of Bahrain, Takahiko Makina, Regional Tourism Advisor at the Japan International Cooperation Agency - JICA, Snježana Derviškadić, Head of the Tourism Project at the Regional Cooperation Council - RCC, Bernhard Wodl, Regional Manager for the Southeastern Europe at Lufthansa Airways from Germany, Vedrana Likan, Partner and Executive Director of Colliers International for Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina ...

SBF 2018 will also see the arrival of numerous political and business leaders from the world and the region, leading people from some of the world's largest companies and state investment funds from: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Malaysia and others.

Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the fastest growing sectors which makes up an important part of our economy. According to the World Tourism Organization, BiH is among the top ranking countries based on the increase in the number of tourist arrivals. The annual growth rate for the tourist arrivals has reached 20 percent in the past few years.

According to the FBiH Bureau of Statistics, the number of tourist arrivals in February 2018 amounted to 38,320, which is a 16.3% increase compared to February 2017. The percentage share for domestic tourists was 39.2%, and 60,8% for foreign tourists The total number of tourist overnight stays in February 2018 amounted to 73,348, which is a 19.3% increase compared to February 2017.

These developments led to a significant increase in revenues from tourism which gives a significant boost to BiH economy. With the increased annual growth of tourist arrivals, an expansion of services in this sector was also recorded.

A significant number of investors have already recognized the potential of tourism in the region of Southeastern Europe, which, based on its tourist growth rate, already is among the top 10 tourist destinations in the world. Accordingly, they started doing business in this sector. Applications for the 9th Sarajevo Business Forum are open until April 23, and can be submitted online through the www.sarajevobusinessforum.com website.