Foreign Investors Association in Albania and MDC-TI.Net have implemented the Project “Virtual Action – Real Result” which was financed by the IPA Program of the EU Delegation in Albania in the framework of the Cross-Border Cooperation, with the purpose of enhancing tourism in the Cross Border Area of Macedonia and Albania. The Implementation of the 18 months project started on September 1st, 2013.
This Project aimed on creating favorable conditions for sustainable development, reinforcing relations through long term regional cooperation between businesses, institutions and people related to competiveness and attractiveness in the cross-border region by effective use of the existing economic infrastructure as a basis for acceleration of joint co-operation.
It supported the active business sector in order to meet the new conditions and challenges in the economy through modern tools widely dispersed globally; helped on improving the competitiveness and attractiveness of the targeted groups and the region with creation and promotion through new tools; raised awareness for the economic operators, local and regional authorities and other key institutions; building Capacity on competitiveness and improving standards; fostering the cooperation, preserving existing networks and creation of new ones.
The targeted areas on both sides of the border were: Korça and Pogradec municipalities in Albania and Ohrid and Struga in Macedonia which contain in themselves very big potential for economic development, with special focus on tourism. On the other side, it is a unique territory from economic and environmental point of view, presenting unexploited economic potential and undeveloped sectors in terms of tourism development. This issue is more visible on the Albanian side of the border, because of the specificities of the previous political system, as it was a border zone with limited access. But also because of other tourist potentials on national level, that limits the development of the targeted area and prosperity of the communities in the cross-border region, although the potentials are undisputed.
Main Products and Activities of this Project:
Virtual Software Tool: www.traveltomkal.com
Manual on “Usage of the Virtual Software Manual”
Guidebook “Appropriate behavior with the clients”
Handbook “Food and Beverage in the Region”
Handbook “How to be successfully presented on the Fair”
Training courses “Appropriate behavior with the clients”
Training on competitiveness and improvement of standards “Why to be competitive and better”
Promotional/ advertisement materials: branded T-Shirts, USB-s, Pendants, Umbrellas and Notebooks
Regional Touristic Brochure
“Regional Touristic Fair of Pogradec” December 2014, Albania
Participation in “International Tourism Fair”, February 2015, in Sofia, Bulgaria
Conferences in Korça and Ohrid, February 2015.
Both countries are facing the global problem with the economic situation (global economic and financial crises). This affects the entire economy, including the problem of unemployment, that on the other hand automatically produces effects on the living standards of the population and increasing the poverty. Statistical data for the poverty on both sides of the border shows that the percentage is higher than 20%. Most affected are the rural areas and population without education (skills and knowledge). The project will create conditions, not only to improve the competitiveness and attractiveness, foster the cooperation and networking, but also to increase the standard of life in the targeted area, as well as to ensure future of the population in the cross-border region. Having in mind the size of developed and sustainable tourism businesses in the region (especially on Albanian side), but also the natural resources and the beauty of the area that are remarkable, the project has helped to increase the level of understanding and perception of tourism as a driving force for local economic development and envisaged this economic branch as one of the priority fields for development of the communities in the targeted area.
The direct beneficiaries were Economic operators/Companies, Local/Regional authorities, Representatives of Local Economic Development Units, chambers of commerce, NGO’s that supports SME’s, public and other institutions, incubators, cluster units, educational institutions (universities and VET organizations/institutions) and inhabitants in the targeted cross-border area.
The project contributed to setting up a new model of cooperation with an added value between the stakeholders, target groups and final beneficiaries. Thus, it also contributed on intensifying the cross-border economic and social activities by ensuring exchange and enhancement of good practices in the cross-border region related with provision and development mutual promotion and marketing of the tourist assets as well as investment potential. The economic development in the EU integration process does not know administrative boundaries, cross-border cooperation for sustainable development is commitment in the name of the next generations and one of the most important pillars of the EU Territorial Cooperation objectives.