BIRN Fact-Check: Is the Migrant Influx Harming Bosnian Tourism?

Una National Park, the stunning Una and Sana rivers and rafting are the top three tourist attractions that Bosnia and Herzegovina has to offer but officials have raised fears that this year's tourist season might be compromised by the migrants and refugees who have arrived in the country's picturesque north-west.

In recent years, due to its unspoiled natural environment, the north-western Una Sasa Canton, one of ten administrative 'cantons' in the country's Federation entity, has become one of its most popular destinations and a major source of income for locals.

However, Bosnia has been facing an increase in the numbers of migrants and refugees crossing the Balkan state on their way to Western Europe since the start of 2018, with Una Sana Canton in the spotlight because of its location on the border with EU member state Croatia.

Suhret Fazlic, the major of Bihac, the central town of Una Sana Canton, told N1 TV station in February that the situation with migrants and refugees "threatens to destroy tourism in Bihac".

The Association of Employers in the Federation of Bosnia and the Association of Employers of the Una Sana Canton expressed the same concerns in April.

"There is a justifiable fear that the ever-present migrant crisis will have a negative impact on the arrival of tourists in the Una Sana Canton and the development of tourism," the two associations said in a joint press release.

Data gathered by the Agency for Statistics of Federation of Bosnia shows that Una Sana Canton registered 55,529 tourists in 2018 - the year in which Bosnia became a country on the so-called 'Balkan route' for migrants and refugees from Asia, Africa and the Middle East making their way to Western Europe.

But the Agency for Statistics' data...

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