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WORLD TOURIST GUIDE DAY

By: Ajdin Ahmetspahic, Coordinator of the Foundation's Guidance Service

Based on the initiative of the World Federation of Travel Guides in Vienna, February 21 marks the day for presenting the profession of Tourist Guides. It's been that way for 30 years.

Bosnia and Herzegovina participates in the celebration and organizes various promotional activities, free tours and events that brings the guides and the local population closer together. In a country that abounds in natural touristic resources, multicultural traditions, rich cultural and historical monuments, diverse architecture, gastronomy, colorful culture of material, spiritual and social ethnos and neglected archaeological sites, one cannot notice the lack of investment and lack of interests responsible for tourism development. It is an essential segment of an already impoverished economy.

The number of tourists in Bosnia is increasing year by year, the country is opening to Europe and the world and becoming an attractive tourist destination. Some of the main factors for this are:

1. Accessibility - the geographical position of our country as part of the European continent is extremely favorable. Instead of tens of hours traveling and changing flights to an exotic location, a passenger from Europe arrives in Sarajevo one afternoon if he is using commercial flights. Road infrastructure can certainly be better, but it exists. For tourists from faraway parts of the world, Bosnia is part of the Old Continent, mystical and rich, where modern civilization originates.

2. Economy - BiH is a drastically less expensive country than European and world tourist destinations. This is evidenced, perhaps best, in the winter season when tourists from alpine countries come skiing with us. Fuel, toll, accommodation and tourist guide services are much cheaper than in many other, less interesting places.

3. Over-crowding - instead of waiting in queues for hours to visit a certain landmark, as is the case elsewhere, mass tourism is still not ruled in BiH, so this is an advantage, without much noise, crowds and waiting. This has the effect of exclusivity, so it should be used.

4. Security - 25 years have passed since the end of the war and curious tourists are “desperate” to see that piece of land around which so many different forces competed for hundreds of years. It is now safe to travel to BiH, the internet is full of information, there is a desire to come.

5. It is home to the largest pyramid complex in the world - one must stop ignoring the fact that tens of thousands of people, from all continents, come to our country just to reach Visoko and the Bosnian Pyramid Valley. Only fifteen years ago, this fact would have sounded unimaginable and sarcastic. However, the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation, founded by Dr.Osmanagić, in his tireless work to present the project of the Bosnian Pyramids (with an emphasis on the Bosnian!)reaches the most remote parts of the world. Adventurers, enthusiasts, scientists, historians, professors and students as well as spiritualists, hippies, spiritual leaders and scholars, "new-age" fanatics, supporters of conspiracy theories (though less theories), come to BiH just for the sake of the pyramids! These guests are not even aware of what else this part of the planet is hiding, and are surprised by the "paradise" greenery, well-hearted and hospitable people, rich medieval history and everything listed at the beginning, and what our job is to show them.

Therefore, the Foundation should be listed as one of the most important factors for the arrival of tourists. Each visitor will then, of course, be satisfied by what they saw and experienced, according to tourist standards. This will bring in many more tourists.

It is such a great responsibility of the Foundation's guides, to round up the external impressions that our guests feel, into one complete fascination, to convince them that what they see and hear is indeed so. It's not just a story about the history of buildings, streets and squares (let's not be offended by fellow city guides), or the presentation of information about this or that.

At the Foundation, guides aim to convey a sense of fascination, grandeur, confusion but also revelation, reducing ignorance and giving ideas, immeasurable but conscious ... So the whole range of emotions that will first make the listener aware, forget the old learning, accept the reality of ignorance and the illusion of past understandings. Topple it to the ground and master it. Only after that, to give new hope, the option of truth and solution, of faith and argument, of feelings and stimuli, the desire for the teachings of ancient wisdom. The listener needs to experience subjective enlightenment, which is what we strive for.

To achieve this, it is impossible to merely expose the information one after the other, without the color of feelings and experiences, a dry theory that will hold the listener's attention only because of the critical thinking that takes place in them. Much more is needed… it is necessary to experience enlightenment with them, over and over again. Each time the words we utter must be images of our own conviction and a mirror of our desire to convey our own cognition and fascination in as honest as possible. All this by looking them in the eye, talking to them even though they say nothing, make them laugh but also take them seriously, imagine and play… lead!

The Bosnian Pyramid Valley Guide should guide you through the lessons. It asks the questions we thought were answered, and it actually plagues us in the subconscious and influences the proper reasoning of the truth, because many of our truths are based on lies, misinformation. That's objectivity.

A guide in Visoko should gain respect from the listener, not just confirmation and formal appreciation. One has to admire the fact that he has been able to "convert" the layman into a connoisseur who will now view the world differently. That's our job!

Therefore, all travel guides should not only know but believe what they are saying. In order to believe in our country, we need to love it, so every tourist is a great patriot. Each guide is an historian, presenter but also a philosopher and spiritual leader. He makes a difference in their heads and lives. Sounds like an exaggeration but really, a tour guide is much more than an hour's worth of fun and a couple of euros! At least with us in Visoko, we look at it that way.

Because of all this, and the fact that I have 30 colleagues who share my passion and opinion, as well as a vocation that is not just a job, I want to congratulate all of them on this day, as well as every other when we change the world and inspire the good in man, much more than this is ever expected of us.

As young people leave Bosnia for jobs in Europe, it is harder each year to reach new colleagues who will accept this responsibility. That is why our Spring School, our efforts to convey the idea, but also all these thousands of world travelers who are constantly returning and bringing new ones and giving us hope to live in, if not the best, then most blessed corner of this world.

So, is it not a noble job to be called a tourist guide, which requires communication, skill, wisdom and various other abilities? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, and everyone should know.

That is why, to all my colleagues, noble and sincere guides, those in Visoko, Sarajevo and all over the world, I wish a happy World Travel Guides Day.


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Video clip from Visit to Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids 2014

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