Midhat Hubijar, President of the Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton: A very successful business year is behind us

Midhat Hubijar PHOTO: KEMAL SOFTIĆ

The Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton has finished its successful business year, and enters the New Year with many plans, but also ongoing projects. There is a lot of work done, and results are already visible.

– On my initiative, in two months we have had three public calls, two of which related to the call to physical and legal persons working on projects intended for development of tourism through sports, culture, and various manifestations, and one we sent to pupils and students who during their school year and academic year enhance tourism potential in Sarajevo Canton – says Midhat Hubijar, President of the Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton in an interview for Visit B&H magazine.

At the end of the last year, you have co-financed cultural institutions in Canton Sarajevo. Can you tell us which institutions and what is the significance of this “financial injection”?

– Through co-financing, and with the aim of improving the work of the institutions of culture and art of the city of Sarajevo and preserving the cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have signed several agreements with the institutions of culture and art. The National Museum of BiH, the Historical Museum of BiH, the Sarajevo National Theater, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra received valuable financial support … One of the first activities upon being appointed the head of the Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton was to analyze the needs of the institutions of culture and art of the City of Sarajevo. We agreed on the order of priorities and one of the first meetings that I held was with the Director of the National Museum in order to solve the problems of such a significant institution for the City of Sarajevo and all of BiH. I am sure that the co-financing of these institutions will strengthen the tourist offer of Sarajevo and help development of Sarajevo’s culture and tourism. This is the first time that the Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton helps the work of significant institutions for the City of Sarajevo and at the same time the opportunity to include the rest in support of development of culture, art and tourism in Sarajevo and BiH.

You also supported one project of Chamber Theater 55, which has a global significance. What is it?

It is a very specific project “Metropolitan Opera in Chamber Theater “. With this co-financing, Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton will help transfer live “Metropolitan Opera” from New York, via satellite, in HD resolution, to the Sarajevo audience. Transfers take place at the same time as they happen in New York so that our audience will be able to track premier events at the same time, which otherwise they would not have the chance to see. The transmission takes place in a high resolution and is projected onto the movie screen placed on the scene of Chamber Theater 55 which is the sole holder of this license for the territory of BiH, so we have complete exclusivity for this type of transmission. We are aware that cultural tourism is modern in the world and we are investing in this segment, considering that fans of high-quality performances of Chamber Theater 55 will also come from Sarajevo and BiH, and that after going to the theater they will be staying in Sarajevo. In addition, we also supported the Museum of War Childhood, with the aim of strengthening responsible attitude towards the institutions of culture and history. Tourists in Sarajevo very often choose to visit the museum, especially when it comes to exhibitions of war issues. They simply want to know the details of one of the longest sieges in the history of modern warfare and the longest siege of the capital ever. This is evidenced by the fact that the Museum of War Childhood, in its relatively short working period, has achieved very remarkable results in the world. The Tourist Association enhances the possibilities for their further prosperity, of course, in accordance with our possibilities.

You also mentioned scholarships for pupils and students. What is this about?

-Tourist Association of the Canton Sarajevo is offering scholarships to pupils and students in the Sarajevo Canton who are engaged in the topic of tourism, its development and improvement during the current school/academic year. The students were surprised by this kind of support of the Sarajevo Canton Community, which they did not have before, thanking for the opportunity to contribute to improvement of tourism in the Canton, and happily promised to participate in the affirmation of the tourist offer in the future. I very often emphasize the importance of young people for the future, and I am convinced that they need to be supported so as not to leave the state, and to invest and demonstrate their creativity and ability in their own country. In addition to students, we will also offer scholarships for the group of pupils of the fourth grade of the Secondary School of Economics who applied for the Public Invitation “Meet the BH Tradition” which will be realized in the school year 2018/2109.

Tourists somehow visit Sarajevo more in the summer months, although the capital of BiH has a lot to offer in the winter.

– According to the statistics we are following, most tourists come to Sarajevo during the summer months, and we are building on more attractive content during the other months of the year. Our aim is to strengthen the winter tourist season thanks to our Olympic beauties Bjelašnica and Igman. At the end of last year we organized a spectacular opening of the winter tourist season with the concert of the group Bijelo Dugme, which included several thousands of visitors. Earlier I got two important projects; artificial snowing and modern vertical transport, which ensures ideal conditions for skiing. Sarajevo is an exceptionally visited city in the summer, with tourists coming from more than 165 countries of the world. One of our goals is that Sarajevo becomes attractive in the winter period, and we are active in organizing various events in the city, some of which will last for almost entire winter.

With you being appointed, Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton has supported numerous events in the city, which aim to improve the tourist offer and ensure that the visitors feel better and more satisfied. Can you list some of the most important projects you have supported?

-Tourist Association of the Canton Sarajevo supported Sarajevo Holiday Market, a recognizable and favorite winter spell of numerous citizens, especially children, in the Hastahana Park in the central part of the city. We are sure that this year’s 8th Holiday Market is certainly the place where the winter holiday season, during which, for hundreds of years, in the capital of BiH, Hanukah, two Christmases and two new years, are celebrated, and citizens and tourists can also experience true Sarajevo in this way. There is also “Old Town Fairytale”, a manifestation that lasts for two months at the Liberation Square – Alija Izetbegović. Otherwise, the Municipality of Stari Grad Sarajevo is the place where the highest number of tourists passes per year, and therefore the Tourist Association has committed itself to supporting the Municipality of Stari Grad and associations that will participate in certain projects that will support, promote and make representative the values ​​of the City of Sarajevo and the Canton . Within the project, “Old Town Fairytale” there are numerous other facilities in the nearby houses, and on the weekend there are special events for the youngest wich includes socializing with mascots and clowns. We recognized the importance and supported the exhibition “One Night in December” by the author Amina Abdičević in Strossmayer Street in the center of Sarajevo, as a symbolic reminder of our singer, Kemal Monteno’s rich musical career. The exhibition was opened on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his birth.

Last year, Sarajevo broke one record. What is it?

– We will remember the year behind us for the record breaking in the number of overnight stays in Canton Sarajevo. Namely, for the first time since the Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo in 1984, the Tourist Association of the Sarajevo Canton has recorded more than a million overnight stays, the statistical report for October 2018 confirmed. In the ten months of 2018, 1,054,464 was generated, which is 21.7 more than in the same period of 2017. This is the first time that statistics recorded millions in overnight stays after 1984. Tourists from 165 countries of the world have visited us, most of them from Turkey, Croatia, China, UAE, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, USA, Serbia, Kuwait and Italy.

We believe that you have big plans for this year?

– In 2019, we are entering with a number of ongoing projects, but also with many plans that we intend to realize. We want to make Sarajevo Canton a better and more attractive tourist destination, supporting projects through sports, culture and manifestations, which send a positive tourist image to the world. Our goal is to better connect with the region, and we will participate primarily at regional fairs. Among other things, we will work on improving the situation with the activities of tourist guides, and open new tourist information centers on Baščaršija and Bjelašnica. The plan is to strengthen rural tourism. We are already making plans for the summer tourist season, which we plan to open with a concert of one of the world’s pop rock stars, and the event should last for seven days, which would be an excellent beginning of the Sarajevo Film Festival, which has been an event that attracts most tourists to Sarajevo for years. During the summer we plan to offer interesting contents on Bjelašnica, which is the diamond of our tourist offer, not only in winter. For the next winter season, we plan to organize the Advent in Sarajevo, which will offer to all citizens and tourists in Sarajevo a bunch of interesting contents, which so far could only be experienced in the world metropolises. After the spectacular welcome of the New Year in 2019 with local stars, we started negotiations to bring one of the world’s biggest pop stars to Sarajevo in the coming year, in 2020.

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