Bosnia and Serbia together for cultural tourism

Creating objects using handwork techniques such as weaving, sewing, crocheting, tying flower arrangements and tailoring clothes is an important part of the cultural heritage of a nation, but today these activities are mostly reserved for women's hobbies. In the border area of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the territory of as many as 18 municipalities and cities, the "Together for Cultural Tourism" project has been implemented since March this year with the aim of socio-economic training of women to market their handicrafts as tourist products in the mentioned countries.

With the so-called "fast fashion", the production of cheap, mass-available clothing and low-quality jewelry, the migration from the countryside to the cities and the proliferation of shopping centers, the economic position of women artisans is becoming increasingly difficult. NALED, Ethno Network and Association of Humanitarian Organization of Bosnian Handicrafts, with the financial support of the European Union, will support the development of cross-border tourist offers through the development of new joint products of women artisans that reflect the local cultural heritage in the next two years. This type of product placement should contribute to the creation of a more favorable environment for the development of local (cultural) tourism.

In the past, women weavers, weavers, haberdashers, knitters, needlewomen, wool spinners were the bearers of culture and tradition, and the creation of handicrafts with the art of handwork was handed down from generation to generation. With the advent of industrial production and the increasingly rapid creation of fabrics, a considerable number of old techniques for embroidery and weaving fell into oblivion because they are time and financially unprofitable for women artisans.

During the duration of the project, the participating women will be provided with expert support in the form of organized trainings where they will discuss the definition and development of tourist products based on elements of cultural heritage, product packaging and design, product placement on the market, and the like.

The selected 60 talented women artisans will have the opportunity to present and promote their newly created products in local tourism organizations and art studios, and present them at regional tourist colonies and cross-border exhibitions, which are part of the project.

This cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia will bring together 18 municipalities, tourist organizations, craft associations, cultural institutions, development agencies, chambers of commerce and educational institutions, as well as diplomatic representatives in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The project envisages two study visits, one each in both countries, during which the project participants would get to know the cultural heritage of the border area, and exchange experiences in handwork techniques.

In addition to empowering women to market their products, the project also penetrates the sphere of social entrepreneurship as a mechanism for creating an additional supportive environment for women artisans. The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on Social Entrepreneurship in February last year, identified the needs of socially sensitive groups and created more favorable conditions for the development of social entrepreneurship by granting greater incentives and opportunities to attract donations. Since such a law does not exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the plan is to make the decision makers in BiH aware of the possibilities of social entrepreneurship through the project and to develop a set of recommendations for the establishment of a regulatory framework in this area.

"Together for Cultural Tourism - Cross-Border Cooperation for Improved Socio-Economic Development and Preservation of Traditional Crafts" strives to rescue old crafts and domestic handicraft techniques from oblivion, to restore their economic and cultural value, to interest younger generations who, by participating in creative workshops contributed to the preservation of cultural heritage.

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