Тhe last study visit about the experiences of alternative and rural tourism conducted from 4 to 6 October 2012, in Macedonia. Group of 12 participants from Western Kosovo had opportunity to see more examples and talk to entrepreneurs about their experience in the tourism business.
The participants started with the travelling around the country with Demir Kapija. They visited the City Museum, the only museum of wine in the region. Besides exhibits artefacts illustrating the culture of wine consumption, participants had the opportunity to see the archaeological setting. The museum is one of the points where the tourists stop when visiting Demir Kapija. The other points are related to wine. Participants visited Villa Maria, the oldest winery in the Balkans where the wine is still stored in barrels from the thirties of the last century and which has been placed under the protection of UNESCO. After that, they visited winery Popova Kula. Both wineries are part of the "wine roads", a specific form of tourism that develops in Macedonia in recent years.
The next destination of the participants was a hotel and restaurant Podgorski An in Novo Selo municipality. In a traditional restaurant setting, participants had the opportunity to taste some of the traditional food of the region and talk to the owner about his experiences in the tourism business. During the visit of Municipality of Novo Selo they had meeting with the Mayor and talk about Municipalities experiences in the development of tourism in that region. The Mayor shared the experiences in arranging attractive tourist sites such as waterfalls in villages Smolare and Kolesino, regulation of water sources in Mokrino and organizing several events that attract a large number of domestic tourists, people from diaspora etc. Participants visited Kolesino Waterfalls and discussed with municipal representative about the experiences of attracting finance from the business sector in the regulation of this tourist attraction.
The journey continues to the northeast, in Berovo. Participants had lunch in the mountain rural setting Sheepfold. They had the opportunity to see the example of a small business initiative in tourism, family who provides traditional, healthy, homemade food. The hotel Manastir that housed participants was another example of the development of alternative tourism. Hotel manager explained how gradually developed the idea of the complex and how they are implemented. The complex grew in line with the needs, i.e. in line with the growth of the number of interested tourists. To meet the different needs they hired private houses in the neighbourhood. That they on the good path, confirms the fact that the number of guests increase for 25% (average annual) which allows them to think about new extensions of the complex.
The last day, the participants visited Kratovo, a city built in volcano crater where were able to hear how old buildings and history are used for the purpose of tourism. The visit ended in the Park restaurant in the village Ginovce near Kriva Palanka. Owner told them the story of the complex from a small pond today grown into a complex need at least 7 days in advance to schedule a lunch, especially during weekends and holidays.
Participants were satisfied with the programme. For Lulzim Pupovci from Pec this was an opportunity to gather ideas that can be implemented in Kosovo. "I liked the story of the Manastir Hotel in Berovo, people felt that in that place are conditions for tourism and convinced Municipality that it needs to make steps that will contribute to the development of tourism. So when someone wants to do something, it’s not need to wait to be created all conditions but through its initiative can convince the Municipality. These things, we saw that operate in Europe, and now we see that the function in Macedonia too. It is not reassuring that there is something elusive, but rather something that can be achieved and I personally encouraged me to do in Kosovo." For Pupovci good examples are also the gradual development of the business, "I think that's a very smart move, showing understanding for the situation and customers. These things I will try to implement in Kosovo. I can say that such visits are very useful, no one can say that know everything, there are always people who have a different view of things and will push you to do something new to", he added.
The owner of "Podgorski an" left the biggest impression on Havё Thaqi from Klina. "The man returned from Switzerland, invest in the business and secured existence not only for themselves but also for the people from the surrounding area. I have good impression from the Municipality of Novo Selo and what they have done for tourism related with waterfalls and other events that they organize".
For Elfete Blakaj the study visit was a great experience. "I saw a beautiful landscape that I don’t knew that existed in Macedonia, I saw how business in tourism starts from scratch and evolve, I saw a respect for history and tradition which, in my opinion, elevates tourism to a higher level. There are many things that I can convey to Kosovo, I am pleased and thank you for the opportunity to learn about all these things. "
Participants agreed that there are similarities in how alternative tourism is developing in both countries. Due to the similarities in the nature, in legal regulations and in mentality of people, lot of things what they saw in Macedonia can be applied in Kosovo.