Updated: Jan 13
Focus Groups were an integral part of the Needs Assessment of the MSMEs in the tourism sector in Kosovo. These Focus Groups are a component of the Green Hub Program, a program which is implemented by Sustainability Leadership Kosovo in partnership with VentureUP and UNDP Kosovo. This program is leading the change and driving the ecotourism trends in Kosovo. In this Focus Group we hosted representatives from different sub-sectors of tourism from the Prizren region.
The pandemic has massively affected the tourism sector in Prizren region like any other sector. Touristic guides in this city have not had the opportunity to organize the group bookings that they had planned with tourists from the previous and current year. Nevertheless, during this time, they have taken the chance to conduct training and meetings online to further their development and touristic offer.
This year in this city, the situation with the tourists has been better compared to last year due to the end of the travel bans, easing of restrictions and vaccination of the population in Kosovo. For one of the entrepreneurs, it was inevitable to dismiss some of his workers due to the difficult situation with the pandemic and the inability to pay them.
In general, they are not worried about the future of the tourism sector and their enterprises in particular as they see it as a sector with potential to grow even more. Regarding the touristic behavior, more and more tourists demand to be served with recyclable products such as: glass bottles, biodegradable products, recyclable bags, etc.
Another thing that obstructs many tourists who visit nature is a large presence of waste, unnecessary construction and without standards as well as an excessive asphalting.
For one of the entrepreneurs present in this focus group, it was important to use this time of business inactivity time to remove some of the waste which has been in Sharr mountains for several years. Regarding the situation with the Pandemic COVID-19, tourists have uncertainties about the restrictions that are in place and often ask how they should act e.g. Do they have to wear masks indoors and outdoors, keep their distance and possess vaccination certificates etc).
Despite being one of the most frequented places in Kosovo from the tourists, Prevalla doesn't have a functional informational office. The local entrepreneurs demand for it to become functional as soon as possible and the employee who will be engaged there, to be profiled and professional for informing tourists about tourism in the city of Prizren.
Despite the great impact of the pandemic on the enterprises of this sector in Prizren, they have tried to keep prices at the same level, in many cases even offering discounts and cheaper offers, in order to attract more local tourists and to continue their activity.
One of the present entrepreneurs, who runs a hotel in Prevalla, last year applied and luckily won a grant. His idea was to include solar panels in his operations through the grant, due to the reduction of costs but also the very favorable conditions of this municipality that has many sunny days during the year.
Although limited in their knowledge regarding sustainability, they are very interested in the essence and importance of caring for nature, where personally, they have often initiated the activities to clear the mountain. According to them, such a thing should be planned and undertaken by state institutions, as they also have a responsibility for the state of our nature.Many entrepreneurs in this sector would like and are willing to implement and incorporate the most modern sustainability practices, but most of them do not have the financial conditions and capacities to do such a thing.
Among the most innovative ideas that entrepreneurs in this region would like to incorporate in the sector of tourism are: putting in to use electric bicycles for transport in the city, development of winter sports and skiing in Brezovica, use of solar panels, development and delivery of special tourist packages for the diaspora, through which camps would be organized so that children coming from the diaspora could socialize with children living in our country, etc.