The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)’s EU-funded Tourism Development and Promotion Project awarded on Friday in Sarajevo the first twelve, out of 30+ grants in total value of EUR 548 000.
Grants are awarded to the best project proposals received though the public call for ideas intended to improve a joint Western Balkans cultural and adventure tourism offer, as well as infrastructure and quality of services along the selected touristic routes.
“These grants, or better said projects, will contribute to the expansion of the tourism offer in the region as they cover all six Western Balkans economies, both when it comes to the areas where they will be implemented and when it comes to those who will be implementing them, so I can say that we have an excellent regional representation and that makes me happy. With this we are contributing to the preservation of natural and cultural heritage in the region, and more importantly to the economic development, growth and employment, all of which are our common goals – those of the regional economies, of the RCC, and of the EU which is funding this project”, said RCC Secretary General, Goran Svilanović.
He added that, according to the “Balkan Barometer”, 57 percent of the people from Western Balkans who travel in the region do so for leisure.
“So, we will be tapping into the intra-regional tourist pool by supporting targeted approach to regional markets; and we have already taken first steps in the international promotion by taking regional operators to international tourism fairs and we will place more efforts into promotion as our value-added tourism products become available and operational”, Svilanović said at the ceremony.
Seven out of twelve grants being awarded in the first cycle will be used to develop and promote new regional cultural routes and products including Roman archaeological sites, WWII monuments, fortifications, and cultural heritage of capital cities. The other five will contribute to the further development and promotion of the existing adventure tourism routes (Via Dinarica) and development of new products including a regional horseback riding trail.
“The European Union sees tourism as a vector for economic development, internally – we had two days ago the European Tourism Day – and externally. By teaming up as a region and developing and promoting joint tourism products, the Western Balkans can create a broader and more exciting offer for the European market and beyond. I would also encourage to use this project as an opportunity to cherish your common cultural heritage which can support a vision of a common future as well. This constructive approach would answer to the 2018 European Union strategy ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’, which sets reconciliation and good neighbourly relationships as key components of the enlargement process”, said Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
The project, worth EUR 5 million, works to consolidate and diversify cultural and adventure tourism offer in the six Western Balkans economies, develop joint regional tourism routes and products, improve infrastructure and quality of services along selected routes, and globally promote joint regional offer. The total value of the grants scheme implemented under the project, which includes 30+ grants, is EUR 1.62 million./IBNA