COLUMN: Tourism and cultural diversity

Namik Čolaković

Arguing over the complexity of the structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been going on for many years now. During those debates, a fact that it is a place, where different cultures meet, is always emphasized as an important component. In doing so, some treat that as a positive argument that further enriches this space, while others consider this in the context of incompatibility and functioning of such a multicultural conglomerate. It is very interesting that everyone is united when it comes to importance of tourism development in this region, which again represents the encounter of different identities in a particular tourist destination, whose interaction leads to exchange of values, attitudes and behaviors, where every man is a representative of his own culture.

In order to explain connection between tourism and culture, one should start from the simplified definition of culture, that it implies identity of the community and every person living in a certain geographical area who inherited their own culture through time, that it became a tradition and cumulatively transferred to the generations that followed. In essence, culture includes all norms, values, beliefs and cultural assumptions that determine behavior, including knowledge, beliefs, art, laws, morals, custom, or all that is acquired and inherited being a member of the social community.

Spatial-geographical proportions, where similarities are most often expressed in countries that border and there is a mixing and interweaving of cultures, condition similarities and differences between cultures. Differences are most evident through religious influence. In the context of conflicting different cultures, it is necessary to indicate the distinction between multiculturalism and interculturalism. The first concept relates to the existence of different values, traditions, attitudes and behaviors in a geographical locality, while the other term refers to interaction of all these segments, establishment and design of their mutual relations, but also the emergence of new cultural characteristics.

Modern global processes have brought changes in all spheres of life, primarily in economics, technical-technological progress and mobility, but also through creation of a global culture. Participation in international economic exchange presupposes the need for companies to permanently persevere in solutions in order to achieve business efficiency, which will be acceptable to all participants in the global market, which implies participants of different cultures involved in such business relations. The established system thus requires mutual convergence and appreciation of different cultures.

Tourism in today’s world is famous for one of the fastest growing industries in the world and modern tourists create new interests, hence new forms of tourism. All of this has caused the need for designing a tourist offer, which has these main characteristics: more experience, more and more frequent trips, but also shorter stays. The content of such a shaped tourist offer is unthinkable without the cultural component, so that tourism and culture are so interconnected to depend on each other. In this constellation, the tourist is the user of the culture of the country in which he is coming, but at the same time, he is a representative of his own culture from which he comes.

BiH really shows that the efforts of all instances to promote tourism in the whole country are visible. Tourism, according to the statements, assumes the convergence and appreciation of different cultures and tourist arrivals statistics best indicates that in the past year only over a hundred of the world’s inhabitants visited Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were all received in an adequate way, and their cultural differences were respected to the maximum. Then came the elections and politicians, who have been, for half a year, convincing us that our cultural differences are an insurmountable obstacle to organizing a mutual life in our country.

I ask the question, why are on the one hand, differences between domicile inhabitants so accentuated and regarded as incompatible, which are, by the way, most often expressed through certain cultural differences based on their religious affiliation, and on the other hand, we treat foreign tourists so good, accepting their culture and distinctiveness?