PONT recently engaged the Connecting Natural Values and People Foundation (CNVP) to investigate the modest outcomes of past initiatives concerning ecotourism in the Wider Prespa Area (WPA) and to develop recommendations to increase the impact of future efforts.
Contents of the report
Following a thorough review of documents and structured consultation of a wide range of stakeholders in Albania and North Macedonia, the Report presents a detailed overview of the past initiatives and current situation, and identifies the opportunities for future interventions to support the development of sustainable tourism in WPA.
The Report lists the following key reasons for the limited success of past efforts;
- the failure to develop adequate capacity locally; and
- the lack of mechanisms for continued coordination and collaboration of the stakeholders, nationally and across the state borders in WPA.
The Report demonstrates that the tourism sector is complex, requiring cooperation and networking of stakeholders in both the public and private sector, including protected area authorities, municipalities, local NGOs, local communities and local businesses. More specifically, the Report suggests:
- a common, cross-border vision for the WPA should be developed to guide future efforts for sustainable solutions in the tourism sector;
- the policies, strategies and management plans within the countries should be harmonised vertically and across issues, and between the three countries in WPA;
- mechanisms and good practices should be established and developed for continued coordination and collaboration between stakeholders; and
- sustained support is required from the national governments and international donors in all three countries in Prespa.
Putting the local people at the centre
The involvement of local communities and businesses is of critical importance for the success of future efforts. The Report identifies several small-scale hospitality businesses in WPA with the potential to provide ecotourism products or services. These, and other local businesses, can help develop local leaders and entrepreneurs that can demonstrate success and inspire others to follow suit.
New initiatives and projects need to be designed and implemented in close partnership with local stakeholders to bring tangible economic and social benefits to local communities and to generate support for nature conservation in WPA. It is suggested that capacity building through partnership could help local businesses design and run successful ecotourism businesses in the near future.
PONT has taken into consideration the findings and recommendations set out in the Report in designing a call for grant proposals concerning nature-based tourism to be published on 31 July 2019.
The full Report is available by clicking here.