FACT SHEET: Via Dinarica: A Platform for Sustainable Tourism Development and Local Economic Growth

Project Snapshot

Total Funding:  $1,487,000*
Start Date:  October 2014
End Date:  September 2017
Implementing Partner:  United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
*USAID $984,250; UNDP $502,750

The Challenge

Although the overall economic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is weak, tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors. In 2013 travel and tourism directly supported 32,500 jobs (3% of total employment). The Dinaric Alps, one of Europe’s least explored mountain ranges, pass through the heart of the Western Balkans – Albania, BiH, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – with the longest section in BiH. Over the past few years, the Via Dinarica has emerged as a regional tourism destination that offers world-class hiking, cycling, skiing, fly-fishing, kayaking, rafting, caving, and abundant opportunities to explore its traditional lifestyle and cuisine. Yet much of the natural and cultural beauty that lies along the BiH portion of the Via Dinarica remains untapped as a tourism product. The country lacks a coherent strategy for connecting tourism operators and independent travelers with small local enterprises along the trails.   

Our Program

This project, Via Dinarica:  A Platform for Sustainable Tourism Development and Local Economic Growth, is a follow-up to our Via Dinarica pilot project, “Walking the Via Dinarica,” that was also co-led by USAID and UNDP, in 2013-2014. As a result of last year’s project, the Via Dinarica was awarded “Best New Trail” in 2014 by Outside Magazine. This activity will further develop the Via Dinarica into a regional tourism destination, which will increase BiH competitiveness in nature-based tourism and promote rural economic development. The activity will establish the Via Dinarica corridor in BiH as a community-owned and -operated tourism product that provides sustainable livelihoods for a range of local businesses along the trail.

Specifically, the project will:

  1. Assess and chart the Via Dinarica trails in BiH;
  2. Improve tourism infrastructure and strengthen the capacities of service providers along the trails;
  3. Strengthen the identity of the Via Dinarica and promote it within the country, regionally and internationally; and 
  4. Establish business and community networks among stakeholders.

Implementation and Expected Results

The program will map and mark the three major trails – the White, Green, and Blue lines – so tourists can access the trails easily and safely. It will also improve and develop community management systems for infrastructure (roads, trails, and accommodations, ranging from hotels and bed and breakfasts to small remote mountain huts). It will provide business management training for tour operators, providers of nature-based services, producers of local traditional products, and small-scale agricultural producers.

The project will also establish and reinforce linkages along the trail – such as outdoor adventure packages, regional tours, etc. – between sport recreation clubs, mountaineer and mountain biking associations, rescue services, environmental NGO’s, local development agencies, and organizations for youth, women, and eco-tourism. By year three, the activity will have strengthened the capacity of 110 BiH tourism service providers and promoted the Via Dinarica as the best nature-based tourism destination in the Western Balkans – and thus increase the number of visitors to BiH.

For more information, also visit the Via Dinarica website and Facebook page