Before the 1992 – 1995 war in Bosnia Herzegovina, Guber Spa was a popular tourist destination in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The spa served as a significant source of income for the municipality and provided jobs for its citizens.
Today locals still make the hike up through the trees, but there is nowhere for tourists to stay, no employees, and no profits. Private investors gained permission at the municipal level to build a hotel there, and started construction in 2010. But political obstruction has halted the project.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided administratively into two entities: the Federation and the Republika Srpska. Srebrenica is located in the Republika Srpska. The Republika Srpska Ministry for Urban Planning, Construction and Ecology annulled the municipal planning permit, insisting that the Spa is of “extraordinary importance for the Republika Srpska”. The entity-level authorities already claim most of the profits from local lumber and mining, and now it is going after the water and potential tourism income as well.
In three separate rulings, the Bijeljina District Court, one of five District Courts in the Republika Srpska and under whose jurisdiction Srebrenica falls, found that the Ministry has submitted insufficient evidence to demonstrate that it, instead of local authorities, has the power to issue building permits for the Spa.
Investors have still not received the go-ahead to continue. Unemployment in the town is around 50%.
Post and photos by Kathryn Hampton.
This is the first of many posts in the Contested Space series. Follow along to learn about contested spaces globally.