The mountain region between Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro is an area of stunning unspoiled natural beauty with a vast biodiversity. To protect these resources, the three bordering states have declared large parts of the region a nature conservation area.
However, the region is remote, making it one of the poorest in Europe, and many inhabitants have been forced to leave to find employment and earn an adequate living.
To conserve the region’s natural resources and protect its biodiversity in the long term, local people need to be able to benefit from this natural environment, for example by working as mountain guides, hoteliers, or meat, vegetable and dairy producers. Sustainable mountain tourism is one way of achieving this, but the region lacks the necessary infrastructure, such as accommodation, restaurants and marked hiking trails.
Consequently, back in 2010, GIZ joined forces with local hiking clubs, government ministries and municipalities to create the cross-border ‘Peaks of the Balkans’ hiking trail in the mountains where the three countries meet. From the outset, the DAV Summit Club provided support.
To secure the continued development of this mountain region, GIZ and the DAV Summit Club embarked on a develoPPP.de partnership, launched by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The partners’ objective in this project, which runs until 2015, is to improve the provision and quality of service so that visitors enjoy their stay and return.
The project aims to achieve this in a range of ways. For example, DAV experts have trained multipliers from Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. One practical workshop has addressed the quality of tourist information services while another has focused on marking out and maintaining safe trails.
Catering for tourists is a crucial aspect. This region has a wide range of fresh local food that can be used to create delicious, high-quality cuisine. And producing and eating local produce boosts the incomes of goatherds, vegetable farmers, beekeepers and herbalists.
‘Since November 2013, we have been offering hiking and cultural holidays in the South-East European mountain region bordered by Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. Bookings are increasing, largely as a result of the close collaboration with the municipalities involved and with GIZ.’
Markus Herrmann, Product Management, DAV Summit Club