September 14, 2015

Kosovo Develops a United Tourism Sector

On 16th June SPARK, in cooperation with the Zvecan Business Centre (hereinafter: Zv BC), held its second multi-ethnic round table discussion in Pristina, Kosovo which focused on creating an improved tourism sector within Kosovo. These meetings enabled SPARK to continue supporting the collaborative partnership amongst Albanian and Serbian Kosovo, which strengthens the sustainable development. This event was a continuation of the first round table meeting, bringing together the relevant key representatives from Albanian and Serbian Kosovo. The participants were delighted to meet each other again, and honoured to encounter new invitees; everyone was grateful to SPARK for the immense support in continuing this process.  

The ambitious youth are enrolling in education and training in Kosovo to achieve a rewarding career in the promising tourism sector, yet representatives of both the Albanian and Serbian tourism associations indicated that the present curriculum is a hindrance to the sectors growth potential. The tourism workers in Kosovo do not receive the adequate work experience to develop their skills and currently there are not enough qualified workers to respond to the market’s needs. Tourism associations are willing to offer practical packages within their capacities, however this needs to be coordinated alongside educational institutions. Short-term vocational training courses could serve as an interim solution yet the long term strategy for a proper response depends on the coordination amongst the Ministry of Education, Tourism Division, selected schools, colleges, universities and tourism associations.

There is currently an overall lack of promotion for Kosovo’s tourism offer yet given the unique traditions and cultural heritage, Kosovo has a huge tourism potential. The participants agree that the region only remains to be relatively stable which results in a low number of domestic and foreign tourists. The absence of an adequate tourism sector is urgent; tourism associations need to direct all of their energy into attracting media attention as the media will play a vital role in presenting and promoting Kosovo’s tourism potential,

The highlight of this discussion was a suggestion by the panellists for a production of a joint promotional film which presents the integrated tourism offer of Kosovo. This will aid its promotion both nationally and internationally. The Kosovo Government has drafted its 2015 – 2020 Tourism Development Strategy, this is alongside the recent completion of the North Kosovo Tourism Development Strategy. The panellists agreed that the important factors need to be integrated from these two strategies to one focal approach. An interesting suggestion by participants was to organise a sightseeing tour of Kosovo for a group of 10 Serbian journalists, while similarly 10 Albanian reporters could go on a tour of Serbia. This initiative can show that tourism knows no borders.

Bank representatives (ProCredit and NLB) stated that they will continue to focus on the economic development, which inherently incorporates the tourism development of Kosovo. Yet tourism associations outlined that they have not yet secured the adequate funding from the bank sector in Kosovo for its necessary development. SPARK will try to solve this current issue by suggesting to NLB Bank (LGF – Loan Guarantee Fund Partner) to start disbursing loans to the most prospective businesses inside the North Kosovo tourism sector through the SPARK Business Plan Competition Mechanism. The next meeting will incorporate a discussion for the creation of a guaranty fund (in close cooperation with the Kosovo government and donor community) to support and facilitate further development of Kosovo’s tourism sector.