Integrated Sustainable Development of the Southern Coastal Region

Project description

Title: Integrated Sustainable Development of the Southern Coastal Region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Albania
Lead executing agency: Ministry of  Infrastructure and Energy
Overall term: 2015 to 2019

Local products of Konispol

Context

Albania is a country rich in natural and cultural heritage. The southern coastal region is no exception. The 150 km long coastline of the Ionian Sea is typically Mediterranean, featuring mountains, natural rivers and cultivated land. The abundance of cultural heritage, striking landscapes and old traditional villages characteristic of this area are a huge asset for economic development. The main economic sectors in the region are agriculture and tourism, the latter being a growing industry in Albania. In recent years, the country’s coastal areas, especially in the south have experienced intensive beach tourism during the summer season. The rural population, especially in the hinterland, has not substantially benefited from these activities. Additionally, the lack of a clear development perspective has driven rural people to abandon the countryside and move towards the coast or migrate from the region.

Objective

Increased economic participation by the rural population in the sustainable development of tourism in the southern coastal region.

South Outdoor Festival 2017

Approach

Historically, rural populations have not actively participated in the planning processes of development strategies. The project has supported local forums, to ensure close collaboration with end beneficiaries such as local communities and private sector actors in the evolving rural tourism sector. It is helping the rural population, mainly in the municipalities of Vlore, Himara and Konispol, to benefit from economic development with a focus on rural, cultural, and nature tourism.

The project works closely with local and central governments, as well as the community and tourism actors, to devise solutions that create prospects for its 60,000 inhabitants. Special attention is given to the countryside, conservation of historical and cultural assets, and the preservation of nature.

The program has two main pillars/outputs. The first relates to territory and planning, building on the Integrated Cross-Sectorial Plan of the Coast and developing mechanisms for urban conservation and models to revive traditional villages. The second component focuses on developing sustainable tourism models and integration of products into tourism value chains, taking into special consideration means to increase income for women. The program also contributes in drafting and implementing local tourism strategies for three municipalities of large rural areas in coordination with the Local Development Plans process.

Upper Qeparo Village setting

Results

  • A regional spatial development plan for the coastal belt is in place, based on a common understanding of national and local stakeholders for sustainable regional development. The program is supporting key partners in improving their capacities for developing a territory development monitoring platform’.
  • Three municipalities in the region have tourism strategies for the development of a diversified tourism  economy.
  • Through trainings, exposure to successful models abroad and by providing expertise, municipalities in the region, Regional Development Agency Vlore, Ministry of Tourism and Environment and National Tourism Agency have better understanding of the operation and management of Tourism Information Center and Destination Management Organization.
  • Various models and products for rural tourism being used to enhance income from tourism. The first South Outdoor Festival was organized at the end of April 2017, aiming at the fostering of season expansion through events. Approximately 1000 people participated and more than 20 outdoor activities were offered at this event.
  • Guesthouse owners in the region are trained in Rural and Mountain Tourism: Quality Criteria for Accommodation; and then further supported through subsidy schemes.
  • A regional brand and logo to foster joint marketing of the destination is being developed.
  • The region appears more in international media as a tourist destination. German “alternative travel” tour operators have included the southern coastal region in their offers for 2017 and upcoming years.
  • Sustainable Economic Models for the Conservation and Revitalization of Traditional Villages in Himara are elaborated;
  • Awareness about cultural heritage among the local community is raised through village conservation guidelines and other support.
  • In 2017, businesses in the tourist sector in the region reported a much earlier start to the season than in previous years, while tourists became more interested in exploring the diversity of the region’s natural and cultural assets