Albanian daily news
There is a shift in focus towards the local economy, as a way to improve the livelihoods of the communities living there, to lay a solid foundation for development in a combination of traditional and innovative businesses.
The support of the German government in recent years has also focused on these dimensions: the establishment of a sustainable model that links tourism and agrotourism with the training of young people, the protection of the environment, the promotion of start-ups, the preservation of natural resources.
All this has materialized in concrete projects, which have emerged and are developing in municipalities such as Pogradec, Korça, Pusteci, etc. These models pave the way for future projects which, if properly supported, can somewhat increase welfare and stop the bleeding out of Albania.
Just two kilometers on the road to Voskopoja is what has been dubbed the “Horse House”.
The farm has combined accommodation service at the restaurant with typical products of the region and an equestrian track. The name of the farm is not accidental. There are 30 horses of different breeds such as the Angloarab, the English Thoroughbred Lipizzaner, where riding lessons are offered, tour guides in which, as Hilmi’s wife tells us, interest has increased.
“We are a relatively young company. We are a little over a year old and the interest of tourists to visit us has not stopped growing. Above all, we see that foreigners have a notable preference both for the part of our local than for equestrian guides that extend to destinations.
The business is family owned and we all work in the respective jobs, while also being in contact with the locals in the surrounding area where we supply some of the products we serve here,” says Daniela.
Of course, for a new business, it takes time to consolidate and take its place, but at first it seems that they are happy with how the farm is doing. Their wish is to further increase the number of horses, but this probably in a second step, because prices remain high.
The flourishing of agritourism farms in the country has started to show year after year and projects have been started to support local economies. One of them is sustainable rural development, supported by GIZ, which started in 2019 with a fund of 15.75 million euros and includes, among others, regions such as Shkodra, Dibra and Vlora.
The proliferation of agritourism seems to have pushed this group to regroup recently around an association, the Albanian Agrotourism Association. Sofjola Kotelli, who follows the sustainable rural development project closely, says the agritourism “boom” started after the 2018 facilitation package.
The treatment with certain facilitation decisions, but also the inclusion in certain decisions of agritourism as an activity seems to have given impetus to many investments, generally affecting the local economy of the areas where these activities take place.
Kotelli said that agritourism has an added value when it comes to discussing the role played by women, that 80% of the cases are those who manage or make decisions in these businesses.
“We made proposals to the government to improve the conditions of this sector. After field studies and consultations, we submitted a project. While a new law only for agrotourism would bring great support to the sector. effects that such initiatives have on the areas where they take place are visible and measurable.Each unit of this nature transmits its effect to the local economy, with the products and employment it generates,” said Kotelli.
Just a few kilometers from Korça is Pusteci. The smallest municipality in the country, which consists of 9 villages. The tourist development of this region is inversely proportional to the natural beauties it has. Prespa National Park, the largest in the country, is an extraordinary tourist “offer” with breathtaking views of nature and the lake. But one of the “cramps” the neighborhood faces is the lack of accommodation facilities.
Cveta Trajçe, from the Center for the Preservation and Protection of the Natural Environment in Albania in this area, when we ask her about the structures, she tells us that there are not many.
“It’s a problem for tourists when they come, because there really aren’t many opportunities or alternatives to stay. A good part of the apartments are empty, because the residents have emigrated or don’t live here. Investments are not being done much as there are problems with the ownership part in the sense that no legalization has been done yet.
I have my uncle’s house, for example, which is empty and I thought about making it a hospitable house, but when I think of the investment and the commitment it requires, I withdraw from a one way or another,” she said.
There are not many young people in the neighborhood. The rest of the surrounding villages are old. Young people have left, or with studies, and never come back or have emigrated. The Center for Preservation and Protection of the Natural Environment in Albania is struggling to find employees for this region.
Investments supported by the German government have not failed from time to time in this region. A similar focus on tourism is set to launch in early 2023 and is likely one of the investments meant to give new impetus to tourism development in the region.
Marsela Maci, coordinator of the natural resources management project, said that at least 20 million euros will be made available for the two regions of Pogradec and Pustec.
“This is one of the beginnings of another project which aims at the development of the region and focuses on Tushemisht and Pustec. It will start with 20 million euros and will depend on the urban development of these regions.
For Pustec, we will see the possibility of developing the area through an intervention in the urban system and it is about the construction of a port which will be the place where we take the boats for the tourist walks. There will also be a promenade that will connect Zaroshka with Pustec, which can be done on foot or by bicycle. It is completed as a draft by the documents and work will begin next year,” Maci said.