SW Associates, LLC: Sustainable Development through Tourism

Kosovo – Kosovo Private Enterprise Program

Kosovo Private Enterprise Program (KPEP) – Tourism Development 

What: The USAID-sponsored KPEP program was launched in late 2008. Tourism was launched as a key activity for KPEP in early 2009.

Tourism is a relatively new sector for Kosovo. To serve as a catalyst and support growth in tourism, KPEP set the following objective:  “Increase sector revenue through exports (tourist arrivals) including increased spending by the local international community, as well as increased domestic sales (local tourists) and foreign or domestic investment into the sector.”

With local colleagues, Mr. Zekë Çeku, President of TPD Consulting and the Kosovo Tourism Association, Fisnik Dragusha, Syzana Baja and Valbona Rraci, we developed and implemented a successful campaign call “Stay the Weekend — Experience Kosovo.”

Our specific objectives were:

1) Conduct market research to identify product opportunities and potential target markets.

2) Advise travel suppliers individually on the design, pricing and marketing of day tours and other alternative tourism experiences, especially targeted at expatriates and Kosovars.

3) Select day tours aimed at these markets

4) Introduce suppliers to A Stay the Weekend – Experience Kosovo Annual Travel Day Fair to help them sell to target markets.

5) Establish the Annual Peja Tourism Street Fair

Results:

1) Market research:

a. Survey with the International Women’s Club (IWC).

The survey was circulated by IWC officers to IWC members via their yahoo user group.

b. International community focus group. The group was conducted among representatives of the international community to brainstorm opportunities and interests in tourism in Kosovo.

c. Pilot wine tour – We worked with the local tour organizer, TPD Consulting, to help launch the first ever organized wine tour for Kosovo. Tour leader and consultant, Zeke Çeku, introduced the group to a range of winery offers in Rahovec and the nearby Serbianvillage ofVelika Hoča.

d. Study trips were conducted to Peja, Istog, Kline,  Gračanica Monastery and Novoberda regions for discussions with stakeholders about product offers.

e. Meeting at Camp Bondsteel with officers and the Director of Morale, Welfare and Recreation, all of whom were interested in expanding touristic visits by the 1400 US Bondsteel troops into local communities.

2) Product offers and development:

a. Stakeholder meetings

Multiple meetings were conducted with 20 stakeholders – travel agencies, tour operators, and non-governmental organizations – to review their existing and potential product offers. As a result of the meetings, a tour product development workshop was designed and implemented with 16 suppliers.

b. Tour product development workshop

Following the Focus Group and International Women’s Club Survey, Wayne, Çeku and Rraci introduced the results to a Tourism Opportunities Workshop whose participants committed to follow-up on selected activities.

c. Travel Fair Preparation Workshop

We conducted a workshop for 16 businesses to help them prepare for Travel Day. The workshop presented the fundamentals of working travel fairs to maximize sales.

d. Fifteen new tours were developed with three tour operators and marketed to the internatonal community by KPEP: Groups from OSCE, EULEX and the International Women’s Club.

3) The 1st Annual Kosovo Travel Day Fair

The 1st Annual Kosovo Travel Day Fair was held on April 22nd, 2009, which was Earth Day. The Fair was the culmination of the previous development and capacity building work.

Multiple media interviews preceded the event – the Good Morning Kosovo television program, Radio Kosovo, Radio Dukagjini, Koha Ditore, and Radio Blue Sky. A press conference, which was covered by more than 20 journalists, was held on April 21st with the participation of Lindita Baleta, KPEP Communications Advisor, David Cowles, KPEP Chief of Party, Zekë Çeku, and KPEP Tourism Advisor, Scott Wayne.

The Fair attracted 45 exhibitors — more than double the number expected when the event was initially proposed in late February. It also attracted a broader variety of tourism-related stakeholders than expected — hotels, restaurants and travel agencies, but also NGOs for pastries, handicrafts and cultural attractions, as well as representatives of municipalities, a horse riding ranch, spa center, ski center and student groups.

More than 1000 people were estimated to have visited, including the Prime Minister who officially opened the Travel Fair. Many of the visitors left the room with their hands full of materials. And many of the materials were the culmination of product ideas and reviews and workshops on product development and travel fair preparation during the preceding weeks by USAID KPEP tourism consultant Scott Wayne and KOTAS President Zeke Ceku.

4) The 1st Peja Tourism Street Fair was organized with over 60 vendors and more than a thousand visitors.  The Fair was opened by Mayor Ali Berisha, Minister of Trade and Industry Lutfi Zharku, Ministry US Ambassador Christopher Dell, and USAID Mission Director Patricia Rader. Click here to see the Shutterfly Album from the Fair.

5) With KPEP assistance, Rugova Experience organizaed a 50 kms mountain biking tour of Rugova Valley.


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