THE ALBANIAN SOUTH STEPS OUT AS NEW, ASPIRING HIKING, CULTURE AND ADVENTURE DESTINATION

The South Coast region of Albania, until recently, a white spot on the European tourism map limbers up to position itself as a new nature, culture and adventure destination in the European tourist market. The new tourism destination for explorers, hikers and connoisseurs has come together under the umbrella brand "South", which unites the communities along the south coast and the hinterland for its joint marketing (www.south.al). Parallel to marketing sustainable tourism destination, new innovative tourism products are also being developed as well as professional tourist information material for the region.

Under the slogan "Hike & Bike the Mysterious South" with the support of GIZ Albania, a network of attractive hiking and biking trails were created leading through the mountainous hinterland and along the romantic coastline, for example, in the municipality of Himara. Small family-run, B&Bs where travelers not only stay but also immerse themselves in traditional Albanian country life are also part of the authentic offer of the new tourist region. To raise the competitiveness of these small business and to establish additional sources of income for the local population in the long-term; small guesthouse operators were trained in five pilot municipalities of the South in sustainable quality criteria and are also supported in the further development. "Professional visitor services" - constitutes another pillar of a professional, sustainable destination development. Thatfore the "Integrated Sustainable Development Programme of the Southern Region" of the GIZ supports the municipality Himara and other communities of the South through a professional training for the planning, operation and management of Tourist Information Centres. In early summer, with the support of GIZ, the first "South" tourist info in the municipality of Himara as the first "check-in point" for visitors to the "Mysterious South" of the South Coastal Region of Albania opened its doors.

AGEG Tourism for Sustainability has advised the GIZ programme for sustainable development of the South in the brand and product development, and on its behalf, under the direction of Barbara Fritz, designed and conducted interactive, participatory training sessions for B & B operators as well as developing tourist information.

 

ITB 2016: DIVERSIFICATION OF TOURISM IN ALBANIA

Tourism can, whenever it is sustainable and professionally designed, become a "development engine" for structurally weak, rural areas and so can help to create jobs and income for the local population. Especially the northern mountain and the southern coastal region of Albania have high potential for development of sustainable, nature-based tourism and can create jobs and new sources of income for the rural population. In Albania, the German development cooperation in cooperation with local partners and the private sector is working on several projects on sustainable rural economic development in which sustainable tourism development plays a central role. To what extent can such sustainable tourism development also counteract migration? This subject was discussed at a high-level panel discussion with representatives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Albanian Minister of Tourism, the "Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit" (GIZ) and the German private sector at this year's ITB, the world's largest tourism fair. Barbara Fritz was commissioned by the GIZ to consult and moderate the high level discussion.
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DIRECT MARKETING OF THE SUSTAINABLE TOURISM OFFER ALBANIA

After AGEG TSC had been tasked with and successfully completed the development of a concept for sustainable tourism product development and marketing of the Albanian south last year, this spring Barbara Fritz and the AGEG TSC team were commissioned with the task of unlocking and introducing the two "undiscovered" regions of Albania, the romantic coastal region of the south and the mountainous, authentic north, directly to the German speaking travel market and to open and tap first distribution channels for the newly developed sustainable tourism products.

No easy task, but it could be successfully implemented. A strong press presence in the travel parts of leading German newspapers, travel blogs and travel magazines will accompany the first sustainable travel packages to Albania's new tourism destinations from next autumn.
Those individual, tailor-made tour packages will be offered from selected tour operators from "forum anders reisen e.V.". In order to make this press and media campaign and direct marketing through the "forum anders reisen" possible, a "journey of discovery" to Albania was organized in June for selected representatives of the German travel press and exclusively for members of the "forum anders reisen".

In a "Market Forum" in history-rich Porto Palermo in the municipality of Himara on the south coast, tour operators and journalists then had the opportunity to exchange ideas with local tourism managers, operators of family-run guest houses and local tour operators and make their first contacts and connections.

The "forum anders reisen e.V." is an association of more than 100 tour operators, who have committed themselves to sustainable tourism (www.forumandersreisen.de). All are specialists who ensure that their trips are environmentally-friendly and socially responsible from concept to execution and together assume responsibility for economic and social development here and in the destination countries. Since May 2014 Petra Thomas has been heading the umbrella organization headquartered in Hamburg's Old Town.
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VIETNAM - AN EMERGING TOURISM DESTINATION

Vietnam's tourism sector recorded continuous growth and will be a long-term position in the international tourism market, similar to its neighbors Thailand and Malaysia. One of our experienced tourism experts Robert Travers has worked a lot in Vietnam in recent years and is currently on-site for the "European Union's Economic and Socially Responsible Tourism Programme", providing brief insight into the development of tourism.
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SUSTAINABILITY FOR EGYPT'S TOURISM SECTOR

In early 2007 was one of the first, if not "the" first sustainability initiative in the tourism sector launched in Egypt in the pilot destination El Gouna "The Green Star Hotel Intiative" . Over the years, from a development partnership between the key players in the Egyptian tourism sector to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the Travco Group, Orascom Hotels & Development, TUI and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), under the steering and expert guidance of AGEG TSC, a national ecological certification programme with international recognition (GSTC) was established. The Green Star Hotel Program www.greenstarhotel.org has survived all the challenges which Egyptian tourism faced and has its seat at the Egyptian Hotel Association and is successfully led by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. Currently, there are 76 hotels in Egypt, carrying the Green Star and more than 36,000 hotel rooms in the hotels and resorts have been certified sustainable.
Despite the sometimes difficult situation, there are new plans for more sustainability in Egypt tourist destinations. The sustainability criteria should now apply not only for hotels, but be extended in the long-term to tourism destinations and the existing Green Star programme should be expanded to include sustainable destinations or "Green Destinations".

 

GUEST LECTURE AT THE MUNICH UNIVERSITY CAMPUS M21 - THE BUSINESS CASE ALBANIA

"Practice with strong brands" is the motto of the Munich University Campus M21 (www.campusm21.de), where a practical degree is in the foreground and the students develop strong concepts and campaigns from the field together with experts from the field. Against this background, Barbara Fritz of AGEG Tourism for Sustainability was invited to present a guest lecture on sustainable destination development and marketing titled "From the Mountains to the Sea - the Business Case Albania". Based on the current AGEG TSC Albania project, it was illustrated to the students how a target group-oriented direct marketing in the case of an emerging nature, culture -and adventure destination like Albania is to be implemented effectively in practice.

 

"LIGHT HOUSE PROJECT" FOR EGYPT'S NATIONAL PARKS

Almost 15% of the total land area in Egypt consists of nature reserves. Despite extensive investments and support measures in terms of sustainable park management, in the past, the national parks have been neglected and have hardly place much value on ecotourism. To remedy this, in 2015, a "Public - Private Partnership" project between the National Park authorities and the private company Veronaland in partnership with KFW - DEG was started. The aim is to develop a light house project for the sustainable use and valorization of the Egyptian National Parks through gentle ecotourism alternatives in the national park Wadi Gamal, the second largest in the Arabian Desert. Meanwhile, much has already happened and Wadi El Gamal is on the way to becoming an ecotourism model for other national parks in the region. The ecotourism offers in the National Parks (www.wadielgemal.org) range from hiking & biking trails to bird & wildlife watching to guided tours to archaeological culture sites.
AGEG TSC has developed a tailor-made project concept on behalf of and in cooperation with Veronaland, accompanied the acquisition of subsidies and quality processes to project award.

 

TUNESIA'S TOURISM IS TAKING A TURN IN NEW DIRECTIONS

In Tunisia, it was not only the Arab Spring that sought and fostered reorientation, but also the Tunisian tourism sector is searching for new ways, away from mass tourism and towards a sustainable, high-quality tourism, which focuses on cultural and natural diversity. Against this background, Tunisian companies from the tourism sector and representatives from Tunisian tourism authorities were invited to a seminar organized by the GIZ Bayern in the International Education and Encounter Centre in Feldafing to become acquainted with innovation and leading sustainable models of success from the Bavarian tourism industry. Transferability and viable implementation in Tunisia were in the foreground for AGEG Tourism for Sustainability as it created technical design and delivered the seminar and selected speakers and innovative models of tourism for sustainability. The seminar made a lasting impact on the Tunisian tourism sector representatives, who consequently called a first organization for sustainable tourism in Tunisia to life and have initiated various projects as a follow-up of the seminar. Inspired by the results of the December seminar, a further delegation from Tunisia visited the AGEG TSC office in the early summer again to learn more about education and employment opportunities in sustainable tourism. The delegation had been working within the framework of a seminar for labour and employment and organized by the GIZ State Office Bavaria.

 

BROAD RANGE OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING SUPPLY IN TOURISM IN GERMANY AND AUSTRIA

In 2015, the "Directorate Enterprise & Industry" of the European Commission in Brussels wanted to examine the education and training supply in tourism offered by the public and private sector in the 28 Member States of the EU. To this end, all 28 EU Member States were examined on behalf of the EU Commission in a comprehensive study and AGEG Tourism for Sustainability evaluated the vocational education and training sector in Germany and Austria, two of the leading States.

 

ITB 2015: SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PRODUCTS THROUGH DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE TOURISM INDUSTRY

How can structurally weak regions in the field of sustainable tourism development benefit from development partnerships with the private sector, known as PPP projects? That was the question a workshop headed by the tourism expert Barbara Fritz pursued in CSR programme at the last ITB Congress. AGEG TSC project examples from the Balkans and Egypt, namely mountain tourism in the Dinaric Alps, a national park as a pilot model for sustainable eco-tourism development and a green certification program for the hotel sector, showed how customer interests, sustainability and efficiency can be aligned, what the success factors are and which challenges arise in such development partnerships.

 

TRAILS – TOURISTIC PRODUCT AND INSTRUMENT FOR THE VALORISATION OF MOUNTAIN REGIONS

Trails, also known as long-distance hiking trails, trekking routes, hiking trails, are increasingly popular with outdoor, trekking - and hiking enthusiasts and provide mountain regions with additional or new popularity. The cross-border peaks of the Balkans trail (www.peaksofthebalkans.com), which was opened in 2012 and connected Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo by linking the mountain regions through a challenging 192 km long trekking trail, is one of these new trails. To introduce Bavarian and Austrian success models to the local stakeholders in South-Eastern Europe, AGEG TSC organized and conducted a study trip to the Alpe Adria trail, the Salzburger Almenweg and the Salzalpensteig in Berchtesgaden.

 

PEAKS OF THE BALKANS – A SUCCESS STORY

A successful development partnership for the promotion of mountain tourism in the Peaks of the Balkans region between the mountain tour operator DAV Summit Club GmbH and the GIZ (develoPPP.de program) was concluded with a closing ceremony at the DAV Summit Club headquarters in Munich in the summer of 2015. So much was achieved during the two-year long project: Service providers (small hotels, B & Bs, mountain guides) were trained and prepared to compete internationally, and the Peaks of the Balkans trails introduced its offering on the German travel market. Under the technical direction of AGEG TSC, on behalf of the DAV Summit Club, multipliers from the tourism sector were trained, an initiative to promote regional products – Taste the Peaks of the Balkans – brought to life, a press campaign initiated and common visions for the future and joint management of the Peaks of the Balkan regions developed in strategic workshops with local stakeholders, GIZ representatives and representatives of the DAV Summit Club. A short trailer summarizes the highlights of the project.

 

"THE MYSTERIOUS SOUTH" – THE UNDISCOVERED ALBANIAN SOUTH COSTAL REGION

The GIZ in Albania launched a project for the sustainable development of the South coast of Albania under the title "Integrated sustainable development of the southern coastal region- Creating prospects, protecting heritage and nature". The South coast of Albania is still a blank on the international tourism map and until now mainly visited by guests from Albania's capital Tirana, who want to enjoy the sun and beach, or it is considered an insider tip among tourists off the beaten path. To promote a sustainable development of tourism and to counter a looming mass tourism, AGEG Tourism for Sustainability was assigned to develop a concept for the sustainable tourist product development and marketing of the Albanian South Costal Region.

 

AGROBIODIVERSITY IN THE ALBANIAN ALPS

The CABRA-(Conservation of Agrobiodiversity in Rural Albania) project by the GIZ Albania has set as its goal improving the protection and sustainable use of the biological diversity in the rural Albania, especially in the "Albanian Alps". In the framework of this project, AGEG Tourism for Sustainability was tasked with developing a first training for "Quality & Service & Agrobiodiversity" for operators of small guesthouses (B & Bs) and piloting it in the mountain village of Thethi in the Albanian Alps.