The Center for “Training, Education, Democracy” (TED) has organized a project to promote adventure tourism and tourist destinations in the border area between Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo, and to stimulate the use of virtual and digital tools to increase collaboration and networking among entrepreneurs in the three targeted economies.
The project is financed by the EU via a grant by the Regional Cooperation Council for Tourism Development & Promotion that is intended “to create joint and internationally competitive cultural and adventure tourism offers in the six Western Balkans (WB6) economies which will attract more tourists to the region, lengthen their stay, increase revenues and contribute to growth and employment.”
TED has contributed to the creation and reinforcement of capabilities and cooperation between local operators by organizing a training session on digital marketing in the Velisht, Tropoja hotel “Kodra e Gështenjave.”
The activity served as a communication and interaction space, not only to become familiarized with the concrete objectives and purposes of the project for “the promotion of adventure tourism in the border area between Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo,” but also for entrepreneurs to exchange experiences.
Discussion was focused around issues such as the way in which digital transformations are changing marketing; the ways in which digital technologies are understood, applied, and integrated in everyday professional work, be it at the individual worker’s level or at the business operational level; the role social media plays in strategies of digital marketing; the management of brand recognition on social media; the main strategies of developing one’s business.
Difficulties as a result of a lack of online access
The training was oriented towards everyday practices, as consultants invited participants to share their own experiences, including the central problems and challenges they encounter. The areas engaged in this project are among our country’s most beautiful and as yet untouched tourist destinations, but, alongside the stunning natural landscapes, inhabitants also live with several fundamental problems.
Inhabitants raised the issue of weak or nonexistent internet connection in the areas where their economic activity takes place. The only ways to connect to the web is overly expensive satellite connection or long-distance wireless connections.
Meanwhile, central parts of these businesses’ activities are being conducted online, like communicating with clients, communicating with international partners, and conducting research into their industry. To do so, inhabitants must travel to the closest areas that have internet access, or ask for the help of friends who live in such areas.
Lack of online access, thus, remains a huge impediment to their personal development concerning digital skills and knowledge.
As part of the aforementioned project, TED held another activity to strengthen capabilities of online promotion and commerce in the field of tourism. The event took place in Gusinje, Montenegro, and several local businesses that operate in the field took part.
The need for better local infrastructure
Participants focused around issues like the internet as a source of information on tourism, businesses’ online presence, marketing and promotion via digital tools, creation of attractive and competitive touristic packages, identifying target groups, promotional messages to attract tourists, the central elements that constitute a successful promotional strategy, etc.
Among grievances brought forth was the lack of adequate local infrastructure, that especially affects businesses in the field of seasonal tourism.