One of the really interesting things about our stay in BiH is the tourism here. I admit that I really didn’t expect to see many tourists at all, but instead we have seen full (and large) tourist groups, speaking languages from all over the world. It is a bit of a strange site, but I also find it to be a really good one. For an economy with such a high unemployment rate, these groups do stimulate the economy.
We were in a taxi yesterday, and the driver said that he was surprised we would come here because most foreigners are too scared, thinking that there is still the war. I think the tourists will have a bit of a trickle effect and word will spread slowly and eventually more people will learn about the amazing country and people.
However, I do have to consider (and I have), what it must be like for these drivers and tour guides to take people around to these damaged buildings and towns, where they have lost so much. Are they numb to the pain of the war? Is that possible? If not, is it fair for us to ask them to take us to these places? An example of this (there are so many) but I have to refer back to the cemetery. The place that was used specifically to kill any passers by, and we had them take us there so we could “tour” it.
With these questions and thoughts on my mind I still must admit this is one of the best ways to travel. We are learning while touring, but also because of our professor, we are also meeting people and hearing their very powerful stories. There are times where I feel a bit guilty about taking pictures in certain places, or asking questions, but I also think of it as a time and a place to learn. As long as you’re culturally appropriate, sensitive and aware of these questions and concerns, then I think it should be a time of growth both intellectually and emotionally.