June 5, 2015

Integrated Kosovo Tourism Offer

On 26 May 2015, in cooperation with the Zvecan Business Centre (hereinafter: Zv BC), SPARK held a multi-ethnic round table discussion in North Mitrovica. Held at the IBCM North Campus, this event brought together representatives of Albanian and Serbian tourism associations who attended an event of this kind in the north for the first time since the 1999 conflict. Considering that all initiatives realised with the above tourism associations in 2014 were well received both by local business communities and authorities, SRARK decided to continue supporting such events to help promote an inclusive tourist offer benefiting all communities in Kosovo. The round table was attended by representatives of the Kosovo Tourism Association (here after: TAK) and the North Kosovo Tourism Association (here after: TANK), representatives of Kosovo and Serbia Chambers of Commerce and the Head of Tourism Division under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.


The round table was also attended by the representative of the Dutch embassy from Pristina, deputy directors from the Mitrovica North Administrative Office, Zv BC and GIZ staff, OSCE (Mitrovica regional office), staff from USAID EMPOWER Program, D&G Solutions, SPARK Mitrovica and Pristina teams. This event was also covered by local media. The round table discussion addressed all major challenges faced by the businesses particularly in the tourism sector of Kosovo divided into three panel discussions:

  1. Visa issue and car registration plate problems;
  1. Lack of communication with relevant governmental officials and institutions;
  1. Double taxation system for the North Kosovo region.

Each of the topics was discussed in detail following the agenda: participants identified major issues addressed so far and presented them to the respective ministry and institutions during the event. All burning issues currently preventing or even blocking activities of both tourism associations and their members, such as visa issues of domestic tourists aiming to travel abroad, entry visas for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Russian Federation, double taxation system in the North of Kosovo, need to be addressed and resolved on a higher level, most probably during some of the next rounds of the Brussels dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

Participants emphasised that this round table should serve as a platform and that the respective ministries, institutions and bodies should be addressed to facilitate communication with the government and improve business conditions in the sphere of tourism: help the tourism sector to develop its capacities, attract more tourists and promote an integrated Kosovo tourism offer.

Head of the Tourism Division under the Kosovo Government promised that all issues such as the visa, car plate and double taxation problems in the North Kosovo will be the focus of the respective ministries of foreign affairs, interior affairs and the Ministry of Finance, offering his unlimited support in their resolution. Furthermore, he stated that all initiatives stemming from this kind of events would be taken into serious consideration. He also added that the Tourism Division will share with all participants the list of the planned future projects in the entire Kosovo area, allowing both tourism associations to analyse potential benefits and advantages of these projects.

All participants were highly interested in supporting and organising similar future initiatives, stressing that these events should be organised more frequently. In addition to the above, it is worth highlighting one part of the final statement by the participants from the north and south parts of Kosovo, Mr. Hysen Sogojeva: “Everything I heard at today`s meeting, both positive and negative, will be shared  with  my  ministry  and  other  stakeholders. This was one of the meetings with the biggest influence on me recently. I too had a wrong image about the security situation and freedom of movement in the North part of Kosovo before I joined this event. However, after spending only 2 hours in this building and in the Mitrovica North, I feel completely different and have a more clear and positive picture of this part of Kosovo.”

The main conclusion coming out of the round table discussion was that a working group should be established including representatives of tourism associations, SPARK, CoC and the Government to work in close cooperation with the Kosovo Government institutions, liaison offices, embassies, and other relevant authorities to strengthen the tourism sector business representatives  and stimulate them to act together and address the above challenges towards their resolution.