Youth Hostels Association of Serbia
Srpski EnglishYouth Hostels Association of Serbia

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Ricard Shirman

The first travellers were famous explorers and adventurers who made the greatest discoveries like Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, David Livingston, Marco Polo and others. They wished to discover new lands, and this wish leads many, especially young people who want new meetings and adventures. The first who brought this idea to reality was the father of youth hostels Mr. Richard Schirman, a teacher, born in East Prussia in Germany. In 1903, when he was working in Altena in Germany, he decided to start free-time excursions for pupils during the weekends and in summer, despite the opposition of schoolmasters. The goal of these trips was broadening of young people's mind. In order to accommodate his pupils, Schirman managed to get country inns, granaries, huts and other buildings. Similar ideas were present in other parts of Europe as well, especially in England, where Schirman achieved to use empty schools as youth hostels during the summer time. He was supported in his activities by young people and the local government, so in 1912. he got a castle in Altena as a permanent youth hostel. This was the first registered youth hostel in the world and yet in 1930 there were 30 of them in Germany.

In 1919 the organisation of youth hostels in Germany was formed, and in 1920 there were hostels in many European countries. On the initiative of Richard Schirman, in 1932 a Congress of International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF) was held in Amsterdam.
In our country the idea of developing of youth tourism has appeared quite early so in 1920. the Ferijalni savez Jugoslavije (FSJ, Vacation Federation of Yugoslavia) was established in Sarajevo. This federation is the main supporter of youth tourism in our country. FSJ organised their first tourist resorts with direct support of the state. So in 1923 the first summer resort was opened on Sveti Stefan (St. Stephen's Island) on Montenegrin coast and later, in 1933, the resorts at Bol, Brac, Jelsa and Orebic on Croatian coast, in Skofja Loka and Zirovnica in Slovene hills and other places. In this period, the state provided the youth with significant ship and railway transport discounts.
During the World War II the FSJ stopped its work, and continued it with founders' meeting in Belgrade on 20th October 1952. From this time on FSJ started affiliation activities to become the member of the IYHF. In 1968 at the conference in Japan the FSJ became an affiliated member, and in 1970 at the Copenhagen conference they were accepted as a full member of IYHF.
FSJ is a public, non-party and non-profit organisation, established to organise travels and vacation for children and youth with slogans: "TRAVELLING BROADENS YOUR MIND" and "GET TO KNOW YOUR HOMELAND TO LOVE IT MORE". FSJ is a member of IYHF, which is an international system that comprises youth tourist organisations and associations in about 70 countries. It has nearly 4 million members and nearly 5,000 youth hostels with accommodation for more than 364,000 persons. Yearly it is registered 31 million overnight accommodations. The annual income of youth tourism is estimated to about 15 thousand million $.

Translated by Igor Puh.

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