Dutch experts help shape the link between agriculture and tourism in Qeparo

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 2, 2016 09:45

Dutch experts help shape the link between agriculture and tourism in Qeparo

qeparoTIRANA, Dec. 1 – Albania has great potential for small-scale agro-tourism with its amazing food, beautiful mountains, long Mediterranean coastline and fertile plains, but a lot remains to be done to develop tourism, say Dutch experts working on boosting the agro-tourism potentials in the southern Qeparo village along the Albanian Riviera.

Small-scale sustainable business concepts were missing and that is why the Dutch embassy supported a cooperation with MVO Nederland, Swiss Cityförster and other tourism partners to work on an inspiring concept of sustainable tourism, combining it with agriculture.

Qeparo is a characteristic old village, located along the south-west coastline of the country. The mountains there steeply dive into the sea. On the seaside, some small restaurants and hotels have their businesses. Until now little advantage has been taken from opportunities to combine natural assets with organic products and food. Albanian and Dutch experts intensively worked together with local citizens in several workshops on the ground, identifying concrete opportunities last summer. Eighteen business cases were developed, such as: taking a hike with a shepherd, restructuring the beautiful antique aqueduct, promoting the local honey, ham and famous Riviera olive oil. Currently, several international organizations within Albania are looking into funding these business cases. Also, some Albanian local entrepreneurs from the village have already taken the initiative to start the tourist activity center.

Tourism is in many countries a driving force for the economy. However, it is often developed isolated from other economically relevant sectors and in many cases has a negative impact on communities, environment and other business.  For Albania, this is currently the case, says “The Traveler and the Olive Grove” report providing insights on how to shape the link between agriculture and tourism in Albania.

“Coastal areas have been rapidly developed for tourism in recent years with only one goal: to make money fast,” experts say.

Lack of planning and enforcement of regulations have led to wild and uncontrolled development of privately owned real estate that stands abandoned for 80 percent of the year. Consequently, esthetics and holistic vision have not been a priority resulting in unsightly buildings along large parts of the Albanian coastline.

On the other hand, there is still a lot of undeveloped territory and the will to create a sustainable alternative to the devastating development of recent years, an alternative that will benefit local communities, businesses from other sectors such as construction, agro food and processing.

For Dutch private sectors, Albania offers a lot of opportunities. It is close by and relatively undeveloped. For tourism, it is a country that has the potential to become a preferred destination for adventurous travelers in the near future. For the food sector, it offers unique products such as wild medicinal herbs and teas.

 

 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 2, 2016 09:45