March 16, 2023

Sustainability a top priority at ITB Berlin for the Western Balkans

In a milestone presentation which saw the signing of a joint implementation plan between Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, specialists in sustainable tourism from the Western Balkans offered their insights into promoting and protecting the fast-emerging region.

The eye-opening presentation was led by Prof. Dr. Claudia C. Broezel, University of Sustainable Development and Faculty of Sustainable Business Administration.

First to speak was Professor Ibrahim Osta, Chief of Party at USAID Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Turizam). He spoke about USAID’s investment of approximately €18.9 million ($20 million) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will go towards “policies, strategy, working on enhancing the tourism product and positioning the company as an attractive destination that is also sustainable.”

“We’re working with tourist boards, we’re working with local communities, we’re working with the government to prioritise conservation first and development second,” Professor Osta said.

“So we say our approach is conservation-led, people-centred development.” 

Professor Snježana Derviškadić, Co-Founder and Partner of the Balkan Green initiative, agreed with Professor Osta’s sustainability-driven approach, with a focus on education.  

“The importance is that the local people need to accept sustainable behaviour as their regular practice and through this we get to the point of having local communities that have sustainability in their core development,” she said. 

Kirsi Hyvaerinen, also a Co-Founder and Partner of Balkan Green, mentioned her organisation’s work with 40 businesses, introducing globally-recognised standards of travel life and travel programmes, or in other words, “putting the roots in development.”

“I keep saying the tree grows from the roots, so these people are the roots,” Ms. Hyvaerinen said. 

Photo: Sustainable Western Balkans: Balancing Promotion and Protection of Europe’s Rising Destinations Signing of Joint Implementation Plan – Mystical Balkans, Marketing Collaborative

Many sessions from this year’s ITB Convention are available as Video on Demand on ITB Xplore – Tune in to check them out!