Sustainable nature-based tourism in the Wider Prespa Area is increasingly seen as a source of income to cover the cost of nature conservation and protected area management, and also as an opportunity for local development.
A 2016 review of conservation efforts in Transboundary Prespa, conducted by the PrespaNet network, concluded that the actions and initiatives over the last two decades related to ecotourism or agro-tourism have yielded modest outcomes compared to the effort and funds invested. In order to learn more about the issues affecting the success of previous efforts and therefore improve the outcome of future efforts, the Connecting Natural Values and People Foundation (CNVP) has conducted a study, on behalf of PONT.
The study focuses on governance arrangements for participation of local communities and other stakeholders, and provides a succinct description of current policy actions, plans and strategies, as well as issues and trends with regard to sustainable tourism in and around protected areas in the Wider Prespa Area in Albania and North Macedonia.
Following several rounds of consultation with key stakeholders in Albania and North Macedonia, including governments, local governments, protected area managers, civil society organizations, and local businesses, CNVP prepared a draft report that identifies a number of issues and challenges. The report makes recommendations for the main areas of intervention and how to maximise the success of future efforts.
The draft report was presented and discussed with representatives from major stakeholders in a transboundary workshop held on 20 June in Stenye, North Macedonia. The discussion was structured along the following major themes:
- resource management;
- service provision;
- promotion and marketing.
A range of forms and concepts of tourism were addressed, including eco-tourism, rural-tourism, agro-tourism, and nature-based tourism with the latter being most relevant to the protected areas in Prespa.
The key points from the workshop, as well as additional suggestions and comments expected from the stakeholders in writing post the event, will be taken into consideration in finalizing the report on the study that will in turn be used by PONT in designing a call for grant proposals to be launched in July 2019.