Despite the existing potential, it is necessary to invest a lot of effort and mobilize several players in order to build a modern and attractive tourist destination, integrate the existing and develop new tourist products and develop the City brand. In the context of holistic approach to tourism development in the City of Mostar and its image building, it is necessary to look into the role of indigenous traditional products that can have a significant impact on the overall effects of tourist offer

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ROLE OF TRADITIONAL FOOD IN TOURIST DESTINATION IMAGE BUILDING Free e-library
The existence of tourist offer varieties does not imply the existence of high-quality approach to and management of a tourist destination

The existence of tourist offer varieties does not imply the existence of high-quality approach to and management of a tourist destination, nor a quality development of tourist products, which is the case of the City of Mostar. Despite the existing potential, it is necessary to invest a lot of effort and mobilize several players in order to build a modern and attractive tourist destination, integrate the existing and develop new tourist products and develop the City brand. In the context of holistic approach to tourism development in the City of Mostar and its image building, it is necessary to look into the role of indigenous traditional products that can have a significant impact on the overall effects of tourist offer. The goal of the paper is to present an innovative approach to building a modern brand and tourist product of the City of Mostar, as a unique tourist destination that is founded on authentic, traditional products and the way of life. The paper is based on the research conducted in 2010 through in-depth interviews with players involved in tourism development and players in the tourism industry.

Key words: tourist destination, branding, image, traditional food.

1. INTRODUCTION The new environment and new rules of game in the hyper-competitive and dynamic sector such as tourism impose a shift away from and transition from classical technical understanding of a destination from aspects of content and capacity toward the concept of destination as an integrated identity and portfolio of experiences of the observed site, i.e. space, which contains a promising potential and organizational effort to deliver them to tourists in a conceptual and standardized way and in line with communication.

These are two crucial essential and perceptual transitions - from a destination product to a destination experience, and from destination marketing to destination management.

Therefore, it rightfully leads to the need to design and implement new destination models. It is a destination whose leadership, by uniting all players’ efforts, timely Amir Pestek, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Economics and Business in Sarajevo; Aleksandra Nikolic, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Pestek, Almir, and Aleksandra Nikolic. 2011. Role of traditional food in tourist destination image building:

example of the city of Mostar. UTMS Journal of Economics 2 (1): 89–100.

forecasts possible trends and market changes, meeting tourists’ requests and needs with high quality and in real time, and systematically raising the efficiency, costeffectiveness and profitability of all players in the public and private sector.

In order to achieve this, three key components should be identified for a destination as a brand: Point of Differentiation, Positioning, and Destination Brand Personality Dimension.

City of Mostar enters global tourist trends with its tourist offer of excursion, religious and cultural tourism within a broader offer of Adriatic-Mediterranean and continental tourist destination. Its attractiveness as a tourist destination is determined by specific natural, multicultural, multi-religious, historical and demographic factors, where the old core of Mostar, as a monument under UNESCO protection has a special significance. Unfortunately, the high tourism potential of the City of Mostar has not been adequately exploited. The main reasons can be found in the underdeveloped concept of managing the tourist destination and image of the City of Mostar.

Underdeveloped material infrastructure, low quality of offer and experience for visitors are reasons for which tourism potentials are only partially used for the increase in employment, GDP, and the City economic and social development in general.

The accelerated tourism development in the City of Mostar requires a strategic about-turn from autarchic to the concept of integrated tourism, and affirmation of the way of managing the City of Mostar tourist destination and, in a later stage, managing the tourism cluster of the City of Mostar In doing so, Mostar destination branding is a trademark and a symbol of tourist destination distinctiveness and quality, with tourist organizations and accompanying industries acting in a unique value chain for increasingly demanding local and international visitors.

Consequently, the goal of the paper is to offer an innovative approach to building a modern successful brand and tourist product of City of Mostar as a unique tourist destination, the basis of which will be made up of authentic, traditional products and way of life.

The paper is based on the research conducted by authors in September 2010.

Besides the analysis of the existing secondary data, in-depth interviews were conducted with 25 representatives of City of Mostar, Tourism Association of HerzegovinaNeretva Canton, representatives of tourist companies and tourist service providers, and other manufacturing and service companies from City of Mostar.

 

 

2. GENERAL SITUATION IN CITY OF MOSTAR TOURISM

 

City of Mostar tourism is to a great extent integrated in the tourist offer of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and Federation Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

A decrease in the number of arrivals and bed-nights in the City of Mostar has been registered since 2008, which can be seen in the following table. The decreasing trend in the number of arrivals and bed-nights in the City of Mostar is identical to the decreasing trend in the canton. The trend of decreased number of tourist arrivals and bed-nights is particularly evident in the international tourist category, which can be explained by the global trend of decreased number of travels due to economic circumstances, i.e. global economic crisis.

Pestek, Almir, and Aleksandra Nikolic. 2011. Role of traditional food in tourist destination image building:

example of the city of Mostar. UTMS Journal of Economics 2 (1): 89–100.

Table 1: Number of tourist arrivals and bed-nights, City of Mostar, 2005- (I-VIII) Sources: Tourist association of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, 2010, Federal Statistics Office, 2010.

In 2009, international tourists accounted for 71% arrivals and 71.3% bed-nights, which is 7% higher than Canton average. Most tourists came from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Italy, Germany, Spain and France. Such a share of international tourists should be developed in the future in order to position tourism as an exportoriented industry.

Based on these indicators, average room occupancy for given capacities can be calculated. The average room occupancy is at the 32.7% level, which leads to the conclusion that there is over-capacity of tourist facilities, which suggests that there is a sufficient number of accommodation facilities that can receive an increased number of tourists.

It should be noted that the average time of stay in Mostar is short (less than two days), which is again at the level of average stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but lower than the Canton average. This in turn points to the nature of tourism in Mostar, which mainly consists of short stays.

Having in mind the short average tourists’ stay in Mostar, it can be claimed that Mostar is an interesting destination for excursions (pilgrims to Medjugorje, tourists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro that come for excursions, transit tourists to other destinations). According to USAID data (2008), Mostar is annually visited by 350-450,000 excursionists.

Short stays and the prevalence of excursionists in the number of visitors cannot be considered to be a poor characteristic of tourism situation; however, such a position is unsustainable in a long term from the aspect of use of potentials and resources, profitability and integrated development of tourist offer (and development of Mostar as a whole). Short tourist stays and excursions cannot fully validate the potential Mostar has, and therefore an offer that will integrate all the tourist potentials and ensure tourists’ longer stays and higher consumption must be developed.

Having in mind all these indicators, the following can be concluded:

- City of Mostar is an interesting destination for local and international tourists who prefer short stays. Mostar is also a very interesting destination for excursionists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, tourists who come from other neighboring countries for one-day excursions, or transit tourists. However, excursionists prevail in the total number of visits and Mostar can be considered as a prevalently excursion destination.

- Mostar does not make a full use of the tourist potential it has, which should be changed in the future by integrating and exploiting potentials with the aim of creating and positioning the destination.

Pestek, Almir, and Aleksandra Nikolic. 2011. Role of traditional food in tourist destination image building:

example of the city of Mostar. UTMS Journal of Economics 2 (1): 89–100.

- International tourists prevail in the tourist structure. Capacity utilization is low (about 33%), and is significantly lower than capacity utilization in the EU.

- Tourism in Mostar is not of a seasonal character, which is a significant advantage compared to well-known destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring countries.

 

 

3. CHARACTERISTICS OF TOURIST OFFER AND POTENTIALS FOR CITY

 

 

OF MOSTAR DEVELOPMENT

 

Among other things, City of Mostar has the potential for the development of cultural, historical, religious, eco- and agro-tourism, as well as adventure and gastronomical tourism.

 

The success of tourism of the City of Mostar is primarily based on the tourist offer related to its cultural history heritage, particularly the offer of Old City core (broader area of Old Bridge). This zone, which is under UNESCO protection, is the foundation of the development of cultural and historical Mostar area. In the narrow and broader area adjacent to the old city core, other tourist and hospitality contents are developed, primarily hotels and restaurants.

The city is characterized by a multitude of monuments and sites that make up a true national treasure. In the City area, there are 40 objects declared to be national monuments2, and 53 monuments on a temporary list of national monuments.3 These monuments make up part of the overall tourist offer of the City of Mostar, and many of them are an unavoidable part of sightseeing by tourists.

To an extent, Mostar tourism is part of religious tourism in Medjugorje, and it is necessary to make the best use of the opportunity offered by the existence of tourists – pilgrims in transit to Madjugorje. The nature of Mostar as a multicultural and multireligious city resulted in the existence of numerous sacral facilities of all religions, which should be used for the development of tourism by unifying a unique sacral and cultural offer.