Slobodan Brkić, who transformed a property on the Via Dinarica route, hopes that his business can survive. “Until the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism was a branch of the economy with constant growth,” he says. “We have to push through this year to survive. The problem will be after the summer, when not enough is earned to cover the winter expenses. We continue to work even though there is almost no income, no tourists.”
In coordination with international partners, UNDP has adapted existing programmes and launched a series of new interventions aimed at mitigating the impact the crisis has on the most vulnerable people. Tourism was targeted as one of the key areas of economic recovery, with a specific aim in mind: to now attract domestic tourists.
As a nature-based tourism initiative, Via Dinarica offers visitors the opportunity to spend their free time in a healthy environment where it is possible to maintain physical distance and at the same time visit interesting natural, cultural and historical tourism sites.
Through the project, UNDP partnered with 20 municipalities and cities, investing US$1 million in tourism services and infrastructural development with support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Agency for Development Cooperation of the Republic of Italy (AICS).
But it has to adapt to the new reality of tourism and the circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The social media campaign Via Dinarica Will Wait for You was launched in April, so that the tourism offers and brand could be sensitively communicated even during the lockdown period, to keep the interest of past and future visitors.
Adapting part of an ongoing economic and environmental programme, UNDP in partnership with the Swiss Government and the City of Bihać launched domestic tourist voucher subsidies. Each voucher has a value of BAM 200 (US$120), which is de facto a discount on accommodation payment in Bihać.