Thinking of Bosnia, the words tourism and glamping may not be the first things most people think of. Yet Bosnia is on its way to becoming an upcoming destination. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and a rising star in the Balkan. In 2019- 1,990.451 tourists visited Bosnia-Herzegovina: an increase of 23.6%. And guess what? 74.4% of the tourists came from foreign countries. While most visitors spend their vacation in holiday homes, some trendsetters were lucky to be one of the first guests at gorgeous glamping Bagrem. This is where the story about two game-changers in tourism begins.
In 2020, Denis and his wife Maja wanted to invest in a small-scale holiday park at their beloved Jablanica lake. This “Bosnian Blue lagoon” is a popular holiday destination between the towns of Konjic and Jablanica (only 70km from Sarajevo and 60km from Mostar). Bosnia is in the heart of Europe, but still, a country with pristine nature, from mountain ranges, clear rivers, and Europe’s the last rainforest in Europe: Zelengora. In short: a perfect country for outdoor tourism.
The couple already owned a restaurant at the lake and wanted to expand their business due to demand. After some research, they came up with the glamping idea: a new concept in Bosnia but already a profitable business in neighbouring countries like Croatia. And what started as an experiment turned out to be a success.
Denis: ‘Glamping enables access to certain parts of the landscape you would otherwise not have access to. Six luxury safari tents are nestled above a lake: a priceless vista. Mobile holiday homes would not make it possible to access that kind of natural beauty, nor the closeness to nature.’ Due to the steep terrain around the lake and the transportation problems, it soon became clear that the purchase of safari tents would be more appropriate than mobile homes. This is where YALA enters the story…
‘We chose glamping tents because they fit perfectly into the landscape and are easier to build on steep terrain than mobile homes.’
Denis, Owner of
glamping Bagrem – Bosnia
Denis and Maja have a passion for hospitality but lack knowledge of the glamping business. Luckily YALA led the way and pitched in when needed. As an architect, Maja has a lot of know-how about construction and materials. Maja: ‘At the beginning of this adventure, we visited showrooms of other companies. However, due to the quality of the materials, the rustic and elegant looks I combined with the brand’s solid reputation, we decided to team up with YALA.
Any challenges along the way? Friends, family, and the local tourist board thought a glamping business would be a bad idea. Yet after reading their business case, including expected ROI, everyone was on board. Within three months, they arranged a permit and ordered the safari tents.
Organising transport, permits and pitching safari tents “like a YALA pro” was a challenge. Still, with the help of local craftsmen and YALA agent Tom, the Bagrem camping became a reality in record time. Maja customised the tents to her liking by adding a more extensive terrace and slight adjustments to the interior. Before the 2021 season commenced, glamping Bagrem had six beautiful safari tents overlooking the lake. Denis: ‘We worked like crazy to finish the job on time. It was a race against time, but with the help of our friends, family and YALA, we made it just before the start of the holiday season.’
‘Honestly, we did not have lots of expectations at first. This project started as a trial or experiment. We did not have a clear vision about preferred target groups or ways to promote our glamping business. We were good to go with some marketing tips from YALA. As soon as we opened, bookings kept coming in and exceeded our expectations. In high season we were fully booked. We did not want to say no to our customers, so we even extended the season. Guests are often overwhelmed by the “Wow-factor” and the extraordinary glamping experience. Making guests happy gives us lots of energy and has given us a living out of glamping while making a difference in a country like Bosnia’.
‘We recommend YALA as a partner because of the quality of the materials and the brand’s solid reputation.’
Denis, Owner of
glamping Bagrem – Bosnia
This project took a lot of guts, effort, and creativity. During the pandemic, every travel-related decision was a calculus of risk. However, the glamping concept was the perfect socially distanced getaway: comfy and affordable. Covid has helped the glamping trend leap from niche to more mainstream, and it seems the popularity of glamping will continue to grow.
Are you inspired? Want to start your own glamping business?
Read here how to start your own glamping business