Development of Ecotourism in the Balkan Alps

In order to achieve sustainable development of the cross-border region through common tourist potentials based on natural and cultural heritage, a cross-border project Development of ecotourism in the Balkan Alps was developed. Planned activities contribute to quality and diversity of services, establishment and promotion of a joint tourist offer as increased safety of visitors to the Prokletije National Park in Montenegro and the Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo.

Precisely because of the inaccessible and specific terrain of this area, in addition to creating a new tourist offer, the focus of the Project is the safety of tourists. Many interventions in rescuing lost or injured tourists have shown the need to rebuild the tourist infrastructure so that a total of 50 km of hiking trails have to be assessed from a safety aspect and rebuilt.

Also, special attention is paid to building the professional capacities of tourism service providers, strengthening the capacities of local communities and the private sector with the aim of developing a unique tourist offer and increasing the safety of tourists. The lack of trained mountaineering guides is evident, leading to already mentioned frequency of accidents in the mountains. Therefore, the Project offers training to specialized guides through joint mountain rescue training to improve cross-border cooperation in providing assistance to lost or injured tourists. The training is implemented in cooperation with relevant national institutions on both sides of the border, in particular with supervisors, national park guides and protection and rescue services. This segment of tourism development is additionally encouraged by the reconstruction of the Rescue Centre that will be established in the middle of 2021. The Centre will contain all the necessary technical and medical equipment, which will ensure a faster and more efficient reaction of rescuers if an intervention occurs.

Bearing in mind that we are talking about a destination that is perfect for nature lovers, rich in local endemic and endangered species of plants, birds and mammals, there will be intensive activities to promote nature-based tourism. In this regard, trainings are planned for guides in the field of biodiversity, such as bird watching, picking medicinal herbs and mushrooms.

The Project allows tourists to access information about opportunities for outdoor recreation, staying in nature and interesting itineraries that would provide creative and comprehensive suggestions for multi-day trips from departure to arrival, places to stay, rest and options for outdoor activities. An interactive display containing all necessary information about the tourist offer of the area and the network of destinations worth visiting is placed in front of TO Gusinje and TO Deçan.

The Project is implemented by the Centre for Protection and Research of Birds in cooperation with Mountain Rescue Service of Montenegro as well as partners from Kosovo – Kosovo Advocacy and Development Centre (KADC) and Mountaineering association Pashtriku. It is funded by the European Union, through the IPA II program Montenegro – Kosovo 2014-2020, and the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro.

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