[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Tourists flock to Bosnia war tours
By Nick Hawton
BBC, Sarajevo

"And this is the market place where the infamous mortar attack took place in February, 1994," Zijad Jusufovic tells a coach party from Poland.

"Sixty-eight were killed, 200 wounded," he says, as his attentive audience look over his shoulder at the site of one of the most notorious incidents of the Bosnian War, nowadays a bustling square full of fruit and vegetable sellers.

Zijad Jusufovic
Zijad Jusufovic takes tourists to old sniper positions
"I run a number of tours around Sarajevo," Zijad tells me as we move on to the next destination.

"My most popular is the 'Mission Impossible Tour' where I take people to the old siege lines around the city, to the secret tunnel under the airport and sniper positions."

Zijad, 38, is the first, licensed independent tour guide in Bosnia catering for the growing numbers of tourists. During the war, in the early 1990s, he worked for the Red Cross.

"I also take people to the town of Srebrenica (the scene of the worst atrocity of the war) and I organise excursions to Radovan Karadzic's house in Pale".

Mr Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, has been indicted for war crimes by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague and is still on the run.

Visitors want to know what happened, why it happened and how Bosnia is today
Zijad Jusufovic
Tour guide

"Visitors want to know what happened, why it happened and how Bosnia is today. In the end, my message is always the same. War is stupid. Everybody loses," says Zijad.

The Polish coach party is making a week-long tour of the Balkans. They have travelled the 1,000km from Poland by bus. Coachloads from Turkey and Chile are expected in the next few weeks.

"I've always liked visiting new places," says Madeja Florkovska, a solicitor from Grudziadz in Poland.

"The scenery around Bosnia is spectacular, especially the waterfalls on the Neretva River near Mostar."


Another member of the Polish tour party, a computer programmer from near Gdansk, said he had visited Yugoslavia before the 1990s war and was curious to see how it had changed.

It is all a sign that Bosnia is finally beginning to register on the tourism map. The first guidebook to post-war Bosnia has just been published.

Zijad Jusufovic with tourists
People are interested in what happened in Bosnia and why
The growth in the number of visitors to Bosnia comes at a time of a concerted effort by locals and the international community to revive the country's tourism industry, helping to change the image of the country and bringing in valuable foreign money.

And it's not just war tourism that is taking off.

The chief international envoy to Bosnia, Lord Ashdown, who has just completed a own whirlwind tour of European capitals, says people should visit Bosnia for many reasons.

"This is a country of spectacular mountains, rolling meadows, and high alpine villages still living in the same way they did 100 years ago; every mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina still has its own cheese; every village its own dance. This is a great place to visit for so many reasons," Lord Ashdown told BBC News Online.

And as for the personal security in a country which has experienced so much violence in its recent past, Zijad says there should be no concerns.

"Many of the people on my tours tell me how much safer they feel here in Sarajevo than they do in their own countries," he says.

Holiday in Bosnia, Ashdown urges
20 May 04  |  Politics
Country profile: Bosnia-Hercegovina
18 May 04  |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific