Halal tourism as a chance for Bosnia and Herzegovina
Halal tourism as a chance for Bosnia and Herzegovina
How tourism is important to the overall world economy witnesses the data that every eleventh worker is employed in the tourism industry.
Halal tourism, as a separate sub-category of religious tourism, is relatively new. It was created as the need to adapt the tourist services to Muslims who practice their religion and want to spend their holidays in according to the Islamic principles. Halal Tourism has in recent years experienced a boom. In 2012, Muslims travelers spent on their travel services 137 billion US dollars, which makes 12.5% of all the money spent for tourist trips. In the coming period it is expected to increase by 4.8%.
Tourism is for many countries one of the most important components of the economy and the economic growth. How tourism is important to the overall world economy witnesses the data that every eleventh worker is employed in the tourism industry. Worlds GDP amounted in 2012 to 71.83 trillion US dollars, of which 9% came from tourism. Despite all the crises, tourism has grew since 1950 from 25 million visitors to as many as 1,087 million tourists in 2013.
Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country with a 50% of Muslim population, with the richness of the natural wealth and significant historical heritage has certainly the potential to be one of the top list Muslim friendly destination.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a specific country in the European continent, considering that about 50% of its population are Muslims. This is an unique opportunity to attract tourists from Muslim countries and to develop the economic branch and increase the GDP of the country.
In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina is rich in natural beauty and significant historical heritage. Many world-renowned magazines such as National Geographic described Bosnia and Herzegovina as a country with a huge tourism potential. With all these circumstances, the Muslim share of the population in the country, the global growth of halal tourism, but also an increasing number of tourist visits – Muslims, especially the Turks and the Arabs, a logical sequence is that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be included in the development of this kind of significant tourism.
In order to achieve the development of halal tourism, the country also needs the additional infrastructure and quality offer to attract tourists.
However, the natural beauty is not missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in order to achieve the development of halal tourism that is not sufficient. The country also needs the additional infrastructure and quality offer to attract tourists. Halal tourism, therefore, implies an offer that contains hotels that do not have alcohol and pork on the menu, a mosque or a specified direction towards the Kaaba, and organized tours of important religious destinations (mosques, etc.)
In order to establish diversity in the cities, it is also necessary to invest in the halal market centers such as BBI Center and Sarajevo City Center. Private indoor swimming pools for men and women, modern sport and recreation centers with a variety of like golf courses, indoor hall for different sports, spa and fitness centers should not be excluded from the offer. Of course, this offer could also involve the more and more popular ethno-villages, which have great potential in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the so-called medical and spa tourism.
Restaurants with halal certificates are increasingly common because of the increased number of tourists from Muslim countries, but the number is still insufficient.
It is necessary that Islamic financial institutions like BBI Bank- the only bank that operates in accordance with Islamic principles, helps to build the infrastructure and to promote Bosnia and Herzegovina as a desirable halal tourist destination.
In order to answer this challenge, it is necessary that Islamic financial institutions like BBI Bank- the only bank that operates in accordance with Islamic principles, helps to build the infrastructure and to promote Bosnia and Herzegovina as a desirable halal tourist destination. Financing in the form of partnerships shows excellent results, considering that in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not enough facilities (hotels, restaurants, etc.) that provide halal services, it is necessary to work on their construction.
Also, if the existing caterer wants to provide halal services, he needs to have a halal certificate which costs money. In this sense the BBI Bank can help. The promotion of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a halal tourism destination is crucial. The BBI Bank as a socially responsible institution organizes every year an International Investment Conference-Sarajevo Business Forum. The Conference strongly promotes Bosnia and Herzegovina and through the Sarajevo Business Forum helps the country in finding investors.
In according to the growing trend of halal tourism, as well as the resources that Bosnia and Herzegovina has, it is quite logical to pay more attention to this subspecies of tourism and to make a use of the opportunities to improve the economy. The BBI Bank could have a key role in funding the necessary infrastructure and in promoting Bosnia and Herzegovina as a desirable tourist destination.
Written by: Nihad Šahović, actively present in the field of banking. Employed at BBI Bank in Sarajevo.