The main objective of the 2nd Round Table (RT) meeting that was held on April 27th of 2021 virtually, was to introduce the project (goal, objectives, key activities) to important actors and stakeholders from the tourism and transport sector, as well as the main activities that have been implemented so far by the Regional Council of Berat (RCB), in the context of the SUSTOURISMO project.
During the 2nd RT meeting, the RCB, together with his external expert, also presented:
- the tourist packages developed in the context of the SUSTOURIMOproject by the RCB,
- the key findings of the implemented activities, and
- the SUSTOURISMO
The final part of the event entailed a fruitful dialogue between the stakeholders and the representatives of the RCB. Our aim was to provide information to the stakeholders regarding the project’s activities and receive essential feedback from them. More specifically, their role was critical in identifying and discussing the primary needs of the community for the development of sustainable tourism and mobility, as well as the issues they are facing, particularly due to the current lock down, quarantine and other safety measures, due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The 2nd RT provided the opportunity to cross-reference ideas, thoughts, actions, and activities between a range of stakeholders with different backgrounds, but a common incentive for sustainable tourism development.
Topics of discussion
The discussions of the RT were focused on the contribution of tourism in the region of Berat by discussing the most common challenges, potential for development and different ways of improving the tourism sector and services provided. In addition, stakeholders were asked to evaluate the services provided by the public transport in Berat, considering its usage also by tourists. Participants of the 2ndRT shared their thoughts on the matter by participating in group discussions and completing a dedicated survey. A summary and analysis of the main findings is presented below.
Contribution of tourism in Berat and the main challenges and interventions that need to be made
Participants evaluated the contribution of the tourism sector in the region of Berat and the potential of unexplored potential that can affect the region’s economy.
Participants believe that there is still room for improvement in the tourism sector. The most important interventions are focused on theimprovement of infrastructure and the quality of the services provided. The training of staff and tourism service providers is also considered an important aspect that needs to be improved.Nature exploration alongside sport activities are another important factor that couldcontribute to the enhancement of tourism in the region. Participants agree that better collaboration between different stakeholders, in addition to the involvement of the community in local tourism initiatives could help further enhance the tourism sector. Other interventions that are considered important include: better cultural products (e.g., festivities and celebrations), better food, parking options in the city, new touristic destinations and points of interests. These initiatives couldhelp moving towards all-year-around tourism of high quality and services provided.
The region of Berat, a UNESCO world heritage site, attracts a vast majority of tourists mainly for historical and cultural reasons. Participants agree that the historic center of the city is the main touristic point of interest, including the picturesque neighborhoods of Mangalemand Gorica, alongside witha variety of cultural and religious sites such as byzantine churches, mosques and other monuments. The castle of Berat is also a highly visited site including the “Onufri” and “Ethnographic” national museums.
Apart from the historic center, tourists favor destinations outside of the city, mainly focused towards the Osumi canyons for rafting and hiking, and agro-touristic destinations in the near-by villages, mainly the villages of Sinja and Roshnik. Tourists can easily combine the above-mentioned destinations considering the geographical position of Berat and its surrounding areas. Such points of interest require approximately two days on average to be visited
Current and potential touristic flows for both domestic and international tourism
Participants agree that both domestic and international tourism have room for improvement, i.e., there is still an unexplored touristic potential that can affect the region’s economic and social aspects. Stakeholders agree that the current touristic flows are served generally well, though there is potential for improvement, especially in areas such as infrastructure, quality of the services provided, in addition to training of staff and their qualifications. Participants also agree that it is important to offer a variety of cultural and festive activities that can engage tourists during the night hours as well.
Services and points of interest that can be further promoted
The region and city of Berat still have unexplored areas and points of interest that can be further explored, creating new opportunities for sustainable tourism initiatives. The most common areas include villages and agro-touristic destinations outside of the city of Berat, such as Roshnik and Sinjain addition to other areas towards the Tomorimountain that can be explored for hiking, nature, and sport tourism activities such as rafting and paragliding. Participants also highlight the importance of experience tourism that goes beyond the visiting of cultural sites into leisure spots and activities.
In addition, our participants consider as important the exploration of new types of tourism services such as gastronomy, experience tourism, nature and sport tourism which are either not fully explored to their potential or still need an enhancement of services.
SUSTOURISMO application promotion and development at local level
Participants agree that the promotion of the SUSTOURISMO application needs to reach a wide variety of stakeholders, interested parties, and especially tourists. In that context, it is of crucial importance to build synergies with tourism service provides such as hotels, tour operators, mobility/transport operators, and public and private organization in the field of sustainable tourism and mobility. Posters containing key information about the project and a QR-code that links to the SUSTOURISMO application are considered as quick tools that can reach potential tourists. Stakeholders agree on the importance of placing this information on places easily reached by tourists such as hotel reception desks, museums, touristic information points, tour operators, public buses, and similar.
The promotion of the application should be focused on multiple means of communication, such as websites, social media networks, and local news channels. Participants agree that joint promotional campaigns can reach a higher number of interested parties and engage them in the activities of the project. It is seen as very important to include the general public to the promotion of the application. The promotional campaigns can also be focused on the younger generations as they are more in favor of using applications and spreading information easily. In that context, it is important to collaborate with schools and/or youth groups.
Joint ventures with other institutions that have common interests can be of great importance. For instance, a collaboration with the municipality of Berat in projects that promote sustainable mobility transportation modes, such as the usage of bicycles,could also help the promotion of SUSTOURISMO.
Finally, participants agree that the promotion of the project is an on-going activity that should continue on a regular basis, and not focus entirely on specific promotional campaigns.
Finalization of the SUSTOURISMO local touristic packages
Participants agree that the promotion of the SUSTOURISMO application needs to reach a wide variety of stakeholders through a series of activities designed to promote sustainable and innovative tourism initiatives in the region. The integrated touristic packages developed by the Region of Berat in the context of the project aim to achieve that. In particular, the integrated touristic packages will provide tourists with the opportunity to visit the main points of interests in the city, along with most preferred destinations outside of the city center, by combining different modes of transportation.
The main focus of the first touristic package is to explore, on foot, the historic center of the city, including the characteristic and picturesque neighborhoods of Mangalem and Gorica, which are rich in culture and historical sites. These walking tours will be extended towards the castle of the city, a unique natural site bearing witness to centuries of history and tradition. Several religious monuments, alongside with two national museums are located within the castle. While at the tour, tourists will have the opportunity to visit and experience local traditions, such as artisan and handcrafts workers doing refined work on stone, wood and other materials.
The second touristic package will be focused on exploring the surrounding areas of the city of Berat, including agro-touristic destinations, wine tasting, as well assport activities in nature. The touristic package will include trips with touristic buses towards the Osumi canyons and several sporting activities such as rafting and hiking. The exploration of nature will be accompanied by leisure time in local bars and restaurants.
Stakeholders agree that the development of such touristic packages should be done in a waythat it focuses in the promotion of sustainable tourism initiatives. They highlighted the importance of the collaboration of all stakeholders into achieving a successful implementation of such packages
This announcement has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The content of the announcement is the sole responsibility of Regional Council of Berat and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union and/or ADRION programme authorities.