Unemployed women from the Association of Women “Aureola” from Struga (MK), in collaboration with the “Association of Women with Social Problems” (AL), developed a project proposal for raising awareness in the value of tourism supply for local economic growth and sustainable development among the population and local institutions of the cross-border area. This collaboration came at a time when the two countries, which had been isolated for many years, can cooperate at cross-border level with a common purpose: the use of the respective cultures in shaping intercultural dialogue and the improvement of the economy as well as the mobility of people in the cross-border market.
To ensure women’s economic independence by the production of crafts and other items and their contribution to the tourism offer.
The project included the following main activities:
Development of a regional strategy on cultural marketing for the Korça and Struga cross-border region with sectoral priorities for culture and culture-related issues and focused predominantly on developing arts and crafts, and with a secondary priority for leveraging the region’s handicrafts as a tourist attraction.
Development of an action plan for implementation of the regional cultural marketing strategy and endorsement by the relevant local governments.
Artisan incubators set up in the villages of Tushemisht, Voskopoje and Kalisht creating the model for “craft villages”.
Support for four artisan fairs with handicraft products, traditional cuisine, traditional dresses, etc. providing chances for unemployed women to promote their cultural tourism products – in Struga, Ohrid, Voskopoja and Tushemisht.
Various public awareness activities, including three workshops for development of the culture marketing strategy organised in Struga with both Macedonian and Albanian participants and two seminars for micro-business.
Several results were achieved by the project:
Capacity built for local actors and institutions to manage and improve the development of regional cultural tourism.
The role of cultural heritage enhanced in developing social and economic opportunities and a commitment to community participation in local and regional cultural marketing and tourism development strategies.
Awareness raised about regional cultural assets through promotion and structured professional and socio-cultural activities aimed at internal and external audiences, markets and customers.
Capacity of local artisans to reach international markets and tourism increased through the creation of three business incubators and training for artist and craftsmen to reach markets, with a special emphasis on the empowerment of women.
Equal participation between men and women in all training courses and educational activities ensured.
Aspects of good practice
The project is considered to be particularly innovative having been launched with a bottom-up approach and in a context without a tradition of cooperation. It contributed, albeit its small scale, to improving the tourism attractiveness of the Korça and Struga cross-border region and the promotion of sustainable economic growth by making better use of its socio-economic and cultural potential.
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