According to director Mulić, the waterfalls are more attractive in the winter than in the summer. Although not adrenaline-driven in the winter like in the summer, the National Park is worth visiting.
Una National Park is the only national park in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of four in our country. With a total of 19,800 hectares, it is located in the territory of the City of Bihać. It became operational in May of 2011 and was proclaimed a territory of special importance by the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina three years later. It is led by Amarildo Mulić, the man who lives his job. Literally.
It seems that due to the famous Una Regatta and the number of visitors in the summer, the Park is calm during the winter. Is that really so?
- Una National Park is attractive to visitors from March to the end of October, but it is the most visited in the summer. The number of visitors in the winter is reduced, but they come even during the “dead season” from November to March. Statistically, there are 40% more visitors this November than last year. Through activities and partnerships, existing offers, either hospitality or any other service offers, we are creating an attractive region for achieving more benefits throughout the year. When it comes to employees, we are always working because our primary task is the protection and preservation of the nature of this region.
Service Capacities Like in the West
- Our task is surveillance, control, and monitoring of the processes that take place in the Park so we could meet our obligations as well as legal standards. The field service, supervisors, and guards are always in the park, which is closed only during heavy snow or flooding. Nature is beautiful throughout the year and now we are focused on the promotional activities in the National Park and visitor zones.
What is there for visitors to see during the winter?
- Everything they can see in the summer only under the snow (laughter). Waterfalls are more attractive in the winter than in the summer. When they see Štrbački buk in the winter in its full capacity, its energy, flow and the speed of the water, its travertine barriers and cascades over which the water flows, they can feel a special Una energy that gives the strength to fight and work. They can see the Milančev buk waterfall in Martin Brod and Kulen Vakuf as the third visitor zone with service capacities like in the west. They can use 200 kilometers of marked walking, hiking, and cycling trails.
- Fishing is not possible from October to March. We’ve formed the fishing districts but the fishing season is now closed. Fishermen are waiting for March to hunt brook trout, and May to hunt grayling in districts in the Park. We have districts for fly fishing using catch and release, as well as classical districts for traditional fishing with some limitations. Rafting takes place during the summer season, from the end of April, if the autumn is as beautiful as this year, until the end of October. The number of warm days is increasing as a result of climate change. Winters are shorter with less snow. I hope that the mountains will have a good season this year.
Did the project Odmori u BiH (eng. Take a rest in BiH) reflect on the Park’s business?
- We don’t have information from our caterers and hoteliers because we don’t have such a network. But given some record visits, I believe that the project and campaign of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Odmori u BiH had an impact as well. It was probably an invitation to citizens to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of our country, as well as gastronomy and culture.
You’ve turned the Park into a recognizable destination. Is the capacity of the Una National Park bigger than what it currently offers?
- Ever since the Park’s establishment we have had a vision and approach that is professional and host-like and through our communication with important stakeholders, we are creating a never-ending story. The Park is a product that became a recognizable brand. We can always do more, but we need the support of institutions in charge of financing, especially for utility infrastructure, and those are the local community and cantonal levels. We are a company of particular importance in FBiH and the Government of FBiH has the founding rights over Una National Park company.
Let’s Reveal the Sun Inside Ourselves
- We are currently preparing urbanistic projects for certain points within the Park where catering and other facilities can be built outside the protection zone. We’ll need help from the Government of FBiH and the City of Bihać because the Park is located entirely in its territory. The Una-Sana Canton Government should prioritize the Park’s communal infrastructure projects that will be at the service of visitors, tourists, and locals whose quality of life will improve through, above all, the construction of access roads. Wastewater regulation is necessary, although the Una River is minimally polluted in the Park’s area. Considering the number of visits, we are planning projects that will completely eliminate wastewater from households and catering facilities. The regulation of waste disposal sites in the area of the City and the Una-Sana Canton is also necessary, as well as the road connection between Kulen Vakuf and Martin Brod, and the regulation of property relations in the part of the road over Štrbački buk in order to ensure the possibility for modernization. There are still several routes and when we ensure that, we will be able to introduce organized transportation within the Park, like in the national parks of the world.
The people from Krajina are recognizable by their cordiality. According to research conducted in recent years, tourists have become more demanding and require more value for their money. Can that “more” be kindness?
- We had a campaign Upoznajte ljude sa suncem iznutra (eng. Meet the people with the sun within). We are a warm-hearted people, ready to help, and our kindness is surprising to Westerners. We too are a part of the global processes of alienation, but we have retained the specificity and autochthonousness of our culture. The custom of serving guests as if they had come to their own house is an advantage that we can apply as an intangible cultural heritage in some development context.. We must include autochthonous local gastronomy in restaurant offers. Not long ago, we had a workshop on rural tourism and we wondered what the definition of tourism would be from the perspective of locals, and we narrowed it down to Your everyday life is an adventure for someone.
- Bihać is one of the most visited cities in BiH and has the predisposition to retain the interest of tourists. What is it missing?
- It lacks more winter content and visions in terms of capacity development when it comes to increasing interest in this part of the country. Una National Park is the generator of the development of this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as shown by the fact that Bihać had four larger hotels before the establishment of the Park. Today there are 40 larger accommodation units (hotels, motels, ethnic villages) and over 500 smaller ones.
UnaLand – Land of Water Magic
- The success of Una National Park led to a revolution in tourism. We need to quickly implement priority projects such as the airport in Bihać, to put the airport complex into the function of tourism. At a distance of 30 kilometers from Una Park is the world-famous Plitvice Lakes National Park in the Republic of Croatia. We have thermal waters which are unused in terms of health tourism. UnaLand – Land of Water Magic is another big project that we hope to develop. It won’t go easy and fast, but it will succeed.
What parts of Krajina are your personal favorites?
- I love the Bosnian Krajina in general, my native Bihać comes first, but Cazin, Bužim, and Velika Kladuša are no less dear to me either. I want to highlight the uniqueness of Bosanska Krupa, a small town on the Una River with beautiful restaurants and beaches. It used to be called Little Paris and it is becoming a fine tourist destination. I like to go to Grmeč, to Plješevica with friends and family, we go on a photo safari. I am happy to go to Ključ and Sanski Most.
What do you recommend to foreigners to see in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
- It depends on the time of year and personal preferences. I recommend that they start from the Sava River towards the Neretva River, then towards the Drina River. They should see Banja Luka, Jajce, and Travnik. They should not miss Tuzla and Pannonian Lake or Kozara National Park. Sarajevo is a must. Bosnia and Herzegovina is beautiful, wherever we send them, we won’t make a mistake.