Protected areas have great potential for the development of sustainable tourism - a key tool that improves socio-economic status of the local communities while contributing to biodiversity conservation. This is one of the main messages of a two days conference on “Promotion of Sustainable Development in Protected Areas” held in Shkodra 29-30 September, organized by the National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA) with the support of the EU funded project NaturAL.
Local government representatives, NGOs, business community operating in protected areas, and other participants have agreed that the development of sustainable tourism in protected areas should start with proper management planning, tourism infrastructure, and building capacities for interpretation and visitor management through strong cooperation between the protected area authorities, local communities, and tour operators. This event is an unique opportunity for the tour operators in Albania, to meet the potential partners in local eco-tourism, learn more about their offer and demand, and evaluate the potential investments in sustainable tourism development.
The first day of the conference saw an opening of a tourism fair “Tasting the protected areas” focusing on the best practices of the Private Sector (with or without the support of projects and NGOs), or by the Regional Administration of Protected Areas (RAPAs). Tourism initiatives and products from protected areas of Albania are displayed and promote the potentials for sustainable socio- economic development of the areas.
The conference will close on 30 September, with the opening ceremony of the Velipoje Visitor Centre, underlying an important synergy and coordination among international donors. Aiming to support the development of sustainable tourism in the Buna River Protected Landscape, to promote the Parks’ values and to offer the space for youth education, the old Velipoje info point was rehabilitated through IUCN’s project ‘Institutional Support to the management of Protected Areas in Albania’ financed by the Italian Development Cooperation. NAPA and Park managers will take over the centre’s maintenance and ensure its proper future use.
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