Vjetrenica Cave, one of the most attractive caves in Bosnia-Herzegovina, was visited by about 15,000 tourists last year, which is 1,500 more than the previous year, Acting Director of the Vjetrenica Public Company Niksa Vuletic said in an interview with Fena. Vuletic explained that the ratio of domestic and foreign tourists is almost identical, with the emphasis on the post-season when more foreign tourists are recorded.
Visits are mostly realized in the period from April to October, and the trend is to increase the number of visits in the winter.
The Vjetrenica Cave was opened to visitors in 1964 and operated for 25 years and was devastated and closed for twenty years due to war activities. In the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, there were no borders, about 23 million people lived, but the number of visits was modest.
“Since 2009, when we had only 500 visitors and no infrastructure, we were able to reach 15,000 visitors and the realization of numerous projects such as access road, public toilet, free parking, and the conditions for receiving more tourists were achieved by demining a large area,” said Vuletic.
Concerning the usability of the cave, Vuletic says the issue is delicate because the number of visits is limited based on the Conservation Study and the Management Plan, adding that it would be good to keep the number of visits within the limits that in no way threaten biodiversity and the environment.
Vjetrenica (which means “wind cave” or “blowhole”) is the largest and most important cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one of the most important caves in the Dinaric Alps mountain range, which is famous worldwide for its karstic and speleological riches. It is located in the Popovo field in Ravno, East Herzegovina in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Located in Popovo Polje in Ravno municipality, village Zavala with its old architecture and stone masonry, together with Vjetrenica cave, constitute the natural and architectural ensemble, which is in the process of being protected as National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as such it is already placed on UNESCO Tentative List.
Vjetrenica cave is considered to have the richest cave fauna, with the highest rate of endemism. Vjetrenica cave also acquired fame throughout the world geological and biological scientific communities, as well as environmental communities around the country and the world for its imperiled and uncertain future, caused by unprofessional management lacking any expertise, and uncertain status at state and especially local level.
Despite all setbacks government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, although creepingly slowly, nominated Vjeternica to UNESCO Tentative List clearly expressing intention to protect the cave and its biodiversity and eventually inscribe it with UNESCO.