Germany’s Lower Saxon State Government has provided funds to the Alfred Toepfer Academy for Nature Conservation for a project that aims to assist the cross-border Prespa-Ohrid ecoregion to develop nature-based tourism activities, and to start building up capacities in this respect on a regional level.
The project aims to accomplish two objectives:
- To develop initial nature-based tourism activities in the Prespa-Ohrid Ecoregion through a pilot project in which interested local young adults will be trained as nature guides and interpreters to cater to the needs of hikers visiting the Protected Areas.
- To organize and host, together with local partners, a symposium focussing on the regional perspectives of nature-based tourism as a contributor to sustainable development. The aim would be to demonstrate examples of good existing practices across neighbouring Balkan countries to encourage exchanges regarding safeguarding biodiversity by creating awareness and stewardship through nature-based tourism and other means.
In respect of the above-mentioned objectives, a symposium was held in Pogradec from 5-8 May 2019. A total of nine local case studies were presented, including a case study by Galicica National Park. Park Manager, Andon Bodjazi, explained how revenues from tourism are used, together with the co-financing by PONT, to manage Galicica National Park.
The first out of four training sessions for the nature guides was given from 9-11 May in Prespa National Park in Albania. The second training session takes place from 23-25 May followed by two more trainings in September.
The project intends to develop and test a specialized internet-platform, working as an intermediate agency between tour guides and (especially German) tourists. This platform will not act as a tour operator, but as a tool for individual tour guide marketing. The enhanced visitor guiding system aims to improve the situation for both tourists and protected areas.