29. June. 2017. | 01:39

North Kosovo tourism- opportunities and possibilities

On Wednesday, May 31, at Mitrovica Social Club, NGO AKTIV organized a panel discussion on topic:" North Kosovo tourism- opportunities and possibilities ".

Panelists commented on current development of tourism in the north of Kosovo and what north has to offer in terms of tourism . They also discussed the potential and future of this branch in this region, and assessed what to do in the future in order to strategically import the offer in the north, thus creating a more serious and more competitive offer for potential tourists.

The panelists at the debate were:

  • Jovana Jakovljević – InTER –Institute for Territorial  Economic Development
  • Miroslav Lazarević – Alpinist/Photographer

The panelists agreed that tourism has recently become a priority sector in the region, which along with strategic investments could create a serious source of income for the region and individuals. They also pointed out the fact that our villages are slowly disappearing, due to poor living conditions and because of lack of people awareness to exploit potential and to discover the source of income from this branch.

About question How do you rate the tourist offer in the north?, Miroslav said that northern Kosovo as one specific region provides opportunity for mountain and water tourism (Gazivoda Lake), as well as welness tourism. In addition to these interesting sites we can also offer some of the cultural / historical sites that must be included in the potential offer. He added that advertising of tourism has strengthened and that awareness at the local level was raised in the last five to six years.

Jovana added that, in the case of municipalities in the north, apart from the municipality of Zubin Potok, other municipalities do not pay enough attention to the development of tourism despite the natural potentials they possess - in addition to historical sites, monasteries or religious tourism. She noted that there is still plenty of room for improvement and development of tourism, and other municipalities should follow the example of the municipality of Zubin Potok.

Panelists agreed that the target group should be young both from the local level and from the region, in addition to them in the focus should also be representatives of international organizations working here in Kosovo. Jovana stated that the focus should initially be on these two target groups, because the European Union Office and the US Embassy labeled the territory of northern Kosovo as unsafe territory to visit. This definitely affects the number of interested potential tourists from abroad who might have liked the offer of the North Kosovo.

Commenting on the growing popularity of rural tourism in the region and its development, Jovana said that Outdoor in initiative under the auspices of InTER wanted to encourage rural tourism on the territory of Ibarski Kolasin. As she said through several projects, they managed to revitalize a few rural houses and to strengthen several households which are located along the hiking trails where many tourists pass. Jovana stated that Inter is trying to realize this thing on the territory of Zubin Potok municipality with the hope that other organizations and municipalities will follow their example.

It was noted that the only municipality in the north with the growth of tourism and the expansion of the tourist offer is the municipality of Zubin Potok, where Inter and municipality of Zubin Potok join their forces and recognize the true potential. Jovana said that so far, a lot has been done on the promotion of Zubin Potok as a tourist destination. The results are becoming more and more visible, which is indicated by the fact that since the end of April until now, municipality of Zubin Potok has been visited by more than 240 tourists, who used various tourist offers, including Via Ferata (there are only two in Kosovo), which provided significant income for the municipality and local residents, and they expect growth of tourist visits.

Miroslav was asked to comment this situation as an experienced alpinist and to explain is this what we offer can be competitive with what the region offers? He replied that we are not aware of  what we have in comparion with the region. Miroslav added that we offer many natural beauties along with other outdoor activities including cycling, hiking, alpinism since there is Via Ferata, Lake Gazivode etc. As he said, it is all unique and new, but infrastructure and accommodation capacities should be built on the site. He added that the plan is to build a accommodation facility on Previa, below the very top of Mokra Gora, which, along with rural tourism, can contribute to placing of  Ibarski Kolasin at the higher level of the tourist offer in the region.

Jovana added that the Tourist Organization of Serbia has included Ibarski Kolasin in the list of the most popular outdoor destinations, that stimulates individuals, institutions and organizations- to help in strengthening the region and thus contribute to a better placement on the list.

Finally,  they agreed that we should work to create a unique strategic tourist offer of the north, which would link all that is offered, and to  connected with religious tourism; also there is need to raise awareness of young people on the importance of nature for human health in the 21th century. 

Mitrovica Social Club discussion are organised as part of the project Provide sustainable framework for civic participation and democratic decision-making on local and central institutional level in Kosovo.

This grant is financed as part of the Democratioc Society Promotion program (DSP) supported by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Kosovo (SCO-K) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of (DANIDA), managed by Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF).