The number of small tourist facilities in region is growing despite the lack of funds.
By Mladen Dragojlovic for SETimes in Banja Luka -- 01/09/12
Jovo Djukic started his small tourism business six years ago. [Mladen Dragojlovic/SETimes]
Jovo Djukic owns of small restaurant and two rooms for rent on the Pliva River bank near Sipovo in Republika Srpska (RS). Six years ago, he started this small business in tourism. He wants to develop capacity and build another building with more rooms for tourists, but he does not have enough money to expand.
"Authorities are talking how it is important to develop small tourist facilities with eco- and ethno-tourism. Here we have fresh food, organic production and everything is 100 percent natural. But, there is no stimulation, no money for us," Djukic told SETimes.
Although the RS Tourism and Ecology Ministry has earmarked 500,000 euros for the development of rural tourism this year, Djukic said the funds were given to "bigger players."
"There is money but it is not distributed in proper way. Grant was given for modern bungalows, built near here, but for me there was nothing. Rural tourism is on its beginning here and everybody must receive some support or tax incentives," Djukic said.
He said that situation is not better in the Federation of BiH.
According to the Federation Ministry of Tourism, they have better financial assets to support rural tourism, but it is not enough for everyone interested.
Olivera Kunjadic, secretary in the RS ministry, said that government recognises the opportunities in rural tourism and was working on its development.
"In last three years, the number of small private entrepreneurs who want to get involved in the tourism industry is in a slight increase. The RS government, through grants, stimulates the entrepreneurs who want to work in tourism. It also created incentives for travel agencies that want to deal with this kind of tourism," Kunjadic told SETimes.
The ministry is also helping tourist organisations to promote rural tourism.
Dragomir Loncar, from Omarska near Prijedor, applied a few times for a grant, and received 10,000 euros from the government. He turned his property in Loncari into tourist resort, with a swimming pool, restaurant and a few bungalows.
He said, however, that the money was not nearly enough. "The biggest help for me is that local government paved the road from Omarska to my resort, but they did it because of other project, not because of me," Loncar told SETimes.
Loncar said that most of the government money was spent on seminars and fairs, not small entrepreneurs. He said there was a lot of talk, but the results were small.
But in the rest of the region, the available funding through the government is less than in BiH.
Montenegro has no funding for rural tourism in its 2012 budget. Although this branch of tourism is growing in the country, entrepreneurs must apply for bank loans.
According to the Montenegro Ministry for Tourism, one of the goals of the government is development and prosperity of small tourism facilities.
The situation is similar in Serbia, where the government planed about 850,000 euros for rural tourism.
The fund is intended for credits and is dedicated to small and middle companies, entrepreneurs and farms for development of tourist offer, said Aleksandra Stevic, spokeswoman at the Serbian Ministry of Finance and Economy.
This year, she said, the government focus is on supporting the implementation of projects of significance for crossborder, transnational and interregional co-operation. Serbia will invest more funds in infrastructure and promotion of its tourism.