Thursday, 16 August 2012

The number of Aussies touring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Sarajevo has recently become a popular tourist
destination for travelling Aussies.
Well, is it just me, or are more and more Australians including Bosnia-Herzegovina in their travel itineraries lately?

I write this following last month, in which, in the space of three weeks, I met up with six Australian friends who had come to visit Sarajevo.

One of these men enjoyed it here so much, that he has returned to Bosnia a further three times! In fact, he is in Zenica as I type this! (It feels strange to think that I am now not the only Aussie in this city.)

Regardless, these visits from my friends gave me a grand opportunity to gain a further insight into the Sarajevo tourist 'scene'. 

The guys often commented on how other Aussie tourists were sharing hostel dorms with them in the city. I was not surprised by this as I regularly heard Australian accents in restaurants and through the main streets of Sarajevo.

So, it begs the question, what is dragging Aussie tourists to the city; and to Bosnia-Herzegovina in general?

Traditionally, many foreigners have been wary of travelling to the area due to the always-possible threat of fighting (read: war) breaking out once again. It is true that Sarajevo still bears significant scars from the previous war, which only came to an end a measly seventeen years ago.

However, it seems as more time passes, and as the nation gradually rebuilds itself, people's fears are waning. It is not just Australians flocking to Sarajevo; Americans, New Zealanders and Brits are, also, very well represented.

From discussions with friends and other tourists, Sarajevo is dragging Aussies in because, compared to other European destinations, it is remarkably cheap. One can go out consecutively for a week here and still spend just as much as they would for one night out in Amsterdam, for example.

Another attraction is to avoid our own people; it's nothing new that Aussies hate meeting other Aussies whilst on holiday - especially when there's a whole heap of them. 
Mostar is also being further included in the travel plans
of Australians in Europe.

Australians flood the popular tourist cities such as Venice, Munich, London and Paris - so why not go to a place where there is likely to be few of them? (I must admit, I empathise with them on this point.)

Once tourists are here, they have a whole heap to enjoy: educating themselves about the significant history of the city; experiencing a vastly different culture compared to home; wining and dining in restaurants serving up ridiculously-delicious food.

Mostar has also featured prominently in the travel plans of Aussies in recent times; so it is not just Sarajevo reaping all the rewards!

However, one must ask the question: If one of the key reasons for Australians visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina is to avoid other Aussie tourists - what happens when Sarajevo or Mostar also become one of the 'mainstream' European destinations?

I think that is a fair way off, but, with regard to the fledgling local economy, it would be a nice problem to have.

Hopefully, sometime in the future, Zenica will also become a city in the minds of travelling tourists!

Bujrum :-)

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