March 18, 2014

Tourism

Mountain ranges such as the Cursed Mountains in Western Kosovo (Bjeshkët e Nemuna/Prokletije) allow similar tourist experiences as in the Alps, in much less overcrowded unspoiled nature areas, off the beaten track. Peja/Peć, the biggest city lies immediately at the entrance of the Rugova valley. The karst mountain range with Mount Gjeravica/Đeravica, 2656m the highest mountain of Kosovo, provides an ideal area to develop nature and adventure tourism products for both, summer and winter mountain tourism. Since 2002 local mountain enthusiast groups started to explore outdoor and adventure activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, caving, in particular in the Rugova Valley area. With donor and NGO support from different agencies tourism infrastructure such as hiking trails, trekking trails, rock climbing routes, via ferrata and mountain bike routes have been developed and promoted over the last 5 years and rural families were encouraged and supported to provide home stay tourism services. Visitor information tools and services have been established and a reasonable number of printed promotional tools such as brochures and fliers are available. The big majority of the tourism products are summer mountain activities. In addition a number of guesthouses, homestays and restaurants in locations that can be reached by car cater for less adventurous summer visitors. A short ski lift in the village of Bogë/Boga caters for snow board and ski enthusiasts.Tourism development in the Rugova valley has started based on a bottom up approach with different groups and individuals. Many of the local initiatives were able to receive donor support and they all engaged in the development of attractions and activities and to a certain degree in promotion and marketing. In the meantime municipality governments have allocated resources to manage and further develop tourism but there is a lack of understanding and skills in destination management. On the level of private sector tourism service providers there is still a single fighter mentality, entrepreneurs are not yet aware that they are part of a wider destination and that coordinated action is needed in order to develop the destination. Most tourism enterprises are new and still struggle to operate the new businesses profitably. Business Membership Organizations such as Hotel & Restaurant association or a tour operator or tour guide association do not yet exist. The improvement of communication and coordination between market actors will take time and needs to go step by step.The tourism team of the PPSE programme has done some preliminary research and meetings with potential stakeholders in the Western Kosovo region. Thoroughly, through the M4P approach tools of analysis, the team has also managed to comprise six (6 ) potential interventions in the region. Each intervention has been designed based on initial identification of problems and their underlying causes. Using the M4P tool of intervention logic framework analysis (ILAF), the team has managed to set forth further assessment needs. The first intervention will focus on the creation of a Destination Management Organisation for the region of the Western Kosovo (Bjeshkët e Nemuna/Prokletije) inclusive of the municipalities of Peja/Peć, Deçan/Dećani, and Junik/Junik. The related problems are the lack of coordinated action, and the near complete lack of destination management functions. This contributes to actors not seeing the potential of the area by not coordinating with one another. The aim of “Promotion of functioning DMO” intervention is to make a shift in tourism for the Accursed Mountains. The tourism sector actors in this region work individually within their core of operation. What is lacking is a coordinated body that will bring all actors together and coordinate strategic planning and actions. Therefore, establishing a Destination Management Organization (DMO) which will coordinate actions of all levels- from local governance to private sector, NGOs, customers and other groups, will contribute to the development of the destination.The PPSE tourism team is preparing a set of project interventions, including the creation of a Destination Management Organization (DMO) in the region.