(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Ayeni Olusegun |
Doha, Qatar: Qatar and Bosnia and Herzegovina can enhance partnerships in several sectors, especially trade and tourism, Chargé d'affaires ad interim at the Bosnian embassy in Doha, Ivana Pejovic has said.
In an interview with The Peninsula, Pejovic said both countries established diplomatic relations in 1993 and have enjoyed 'very good bilateral relations', which marked 30 years in January this year. Over 1,000 Bosnians reside in Qatar, not counting those with dual passports.
“In the overall good relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Qatar, there is a significant room for further improvement of relations on the economic and especially investment level,” Pejovic said, adding that both countries share a higher level of treaty-based relations compared to other countries in the Gulf.
“In Bosnia, there is an interest in increasing the export of Bosnian products to Qatar, as well as to attract Qatari investors for projects in various sectors like industry, energy, tourism, and others.”
According to Pejovic, trade volume between Bosnia and Qatar for the first half of 2023 reached a modest €4.8m – an unchanged figure compared to the same period in the last five years. Pejovic stressed that Bosnia and Herzegovina's imperative in cooperation with Qatar 'must be to work on increasing the trade volume'.“Industry and energy sector, particularly renewable energy, wood, pharmaceutical, and some raw materials, are the best for long-term partnerships, especially in exchanging know-how between our industries with win-win results that will achieve and lead to long-term partnerships.“In the food industry and security segment, we want more products in shops such as fruits, vegetables, and meat. Bosnia offers the opportunity to invest in a large cold storage and purchasing centre for fruits and vegetables, halal meat, drinking water exports, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, and processed food products with halal certification,” she said.
Pejovic added that more investments in renovating existing facilities and constructing modern sports infrastructure, spa tourism and the hotel industry are potential investment areas.
She said the wood-processing industry presents beneficial options to invest in production and opening joint factories for the assembly and final finishing of furniture from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Qatar.
Located in the Dinaric Alps, Bosnia is surrounded by dense woodlands, including one of Europe's last primary forests - Perucica - in the southeast. The country's land area is covered by around 60 percent forest, which has spurred a strong wood industry due to the existing raw materials.
Meanwhile, Qatari tourists to Bosnia have significantly increased in the last few years. Qatari citizens are exempted from visas to Bosnia for up to 90 days, and“they are using this benefit to enjoy our country and spend their summer vacations.” Pejovic said there are many reasons for Qataris to visit Bosnia, like its location in the heart of Europe, its affordability, summer vacation resorts, rich culture and religiously very close to Qatar. According to the country's statistics agency, 907,526 foreign tourists visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2022, compared with 501,945 in 2021.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a vast tourist industry and a fast-expanding service sector thanks to the strong annual growth in tourist arrivals year by year. The country also benefits from being both a summer and winter tourist destination.“There is an increased interest in visits from Qatar to Bosnia, especially in the summer. Qataris are part of the visitors who have the longest stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Pejovic added.
“Since Bosnia and Herzegovina is a candidate state for joining the EU, our laws on the entry of foreigners are based on the EU laws. There is a kind of flexibility for non-Qatari residents and citizens of countries with whom Bosnia and Herzegovina has a visa regime to enter the country without the obligation to obtain a visa. If they have a valid multiple entry visa or residence permit issued by the signatory countries of the Schengen Agreement, the EU member states or the United States of America, they can.”
Pejovic said a consistent flight pattern from Qatar Airways, which only runs five direct weekly flights from Doha to Sarajevo in the summer season till mid-September.
She said Qatar Airways should reconsider establishing direct flights all year round to boost tourist exchange between both countries, adding that stronger collaboration is needed via cooperation between tourism companies and investors on both sides.
“The fact that our citizens are eligible for Qatari visa on arrival makes Qatar a great travel destination for Bosnians and the Bosnian diaspora that often transits via Doha from the other continents, especially in the winter period.