Tourism and wine exports – Boosting business in the Balkans

Many families in rural regions throughout the Balkans are benefiting from a new hiking trail and tri-border cooperation.

In rural areas in the Balkans in particular, creating jobs and prospects for people is an ongoing challenge. For this reason, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is promoting the sustainable development of mountain tourism in the Western Balkans – a sector with potential for growth.

Since 2010, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has worked together with the German Alpine Club (DAV) to create 192 kilometres of hiking trails in the tri-border region of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. Around 10,000 visitors now use this route each year. Twelve guesthouses have expanded their capacity along the ‘Peaks of the Balkans’ route, enabling around 50 families to double their income.

Successful tourism is dependent on a pristine and intact natural environment. GIZ is therefore advising the relevant actors in Albania on how to conserve their biodiversity. To date, this has resulted in the designation of two regional natural reserves in the Albanian Alps, each covering an area of around 20,000 hectares. Now farmers here are growing local vegetables and fruit, and conserving rare breeds of farm animals. For their part, tourist guides are receiving training to educate their clients about biodiversity. Increased demand has enabled almost 40% of households to increase their income.

At the same time, GIZ is helping wine growers to harness new markets. This is because a larger volume of exports does not just mean higher turnover, but more jobs, too. In 2014, wine growers exported more than 970,000 litres and in 2016 this figure had increased to 8.5 million litres.

Overall, these changes are impacting around 80,000 people in the Balkans. In the period from 2010 to 2015, GIZ helped more than 3.2 million people worldwide to raise their level of income.