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Green Hub Training in Prizren

The Green Hub program is implemented in partnership between Sustainability Leadership Kosovo and Venture UP, and is supported by UNDP Kosovo. This is a program that is leading the change and promoting ecotourism trends in Kosovo. The program targets existing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in tourism sector for green recovery from COVID-19 and transition towards environmental sustainability; diversification of other MSMEs in the tourism value chain in areas such as handicrafts and agriculture. Furthermore, the program aims at new tourism initiatives by young people; students of the University of Prishtina and beyond.

The emphasis of this program will be on the adoption of safe practices for COVID-19 and the environment. At the enterprise level, measures to mitigate or eliminate negative impacts and a more financially sustainable operating model.

The project aims to support up to 50 tourism SMEs in their recovery and acceleration towards sustainability.

One of the most important components of this program is the training provided to existing SMEs in the tourism sector.

After the successful completion of the training with SMEs in the region of Mitrovica and Pristina, it was the turn of the training with the region of Prizren. This training took place between 21 - 25 February and hosted 21 participants from different sub-sectors of tourism.

This 5-day training, although it is called such, it in itself is not the same as the classic ways of training, but contains really interactive materials and activities which make individual empowerment in that way to create a journey of personal and professional development and will support the development of participants' 'soft skills' who can then be transformed into positive changers in their community.

Anila Sahatqiu, co-owner of the restaurant "Family", during the training has been active and has expressed great interest in acquiring new environmental practices in her business. She states that the goals of her business are to include as many environmental practices as possible, such as eliminating the use of plastic bottles, planting plants and serving them in restaurants, as well as expanding the business nationally and internationally.

Auron V. Brahimaj, as a manager has been helping and working for 9 years in his family business, restaurant "Natyra", in Prizren. He was born in Italy and his parents worked there for over 30 years where they gained valuable experience and decided to transfer their experience to Kosovo by opening a restaurant with Italian cuisine. Restaurant Natyra was established in 2013 with professional staff and great ambitions to become one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Kosovo.

Blerta Nreraj, owner of the Bio Lodge in Meja, is a teacher by profession but has a special interest in nature and mountaineering. With the motto "Feel the nature", her guesthouse offers traditional and organic food, as well as amazing views of the village of Meja, where visitors have the opportunity to enjoy nature and the animals that surround them.

From this training I learned a lot of new things from a great coach. "My goal now is to continue to learn and research more about sustainable practices and eco."

Drini Collaku, although still in studies, he gives his continuous contribution to the family business "Villa Park". His family business operates within the field of gastronomy and accommodation in Prizren. During the training, Drini shared many ideas with us and expressed his willingness to help other participants with things he can help them with.

Edmond Driza, graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Business Management, has 6 years of experience in the tourism market. He manages Ura Hostel, located in the center of Prizren with modern conditions for the accommodation of guests, and dormitory capacity with 30 beds in total, and a pleasant large space in the lobby area.

Fatime Boshnjaku, although a teacher by profession, now retired, she is very passionate about nature. After retiring, she opened a guesthouse called Hostel-F, which is very attractive to visitors and is located in the historical and cultural area of Gjakova. Her business motto is "Feel at home". Through this training and grant, she hopes to make long-term solutions for the hostel heating system.

Ferijalle and Murteza Dula were oriented towards different professional careers, however they are connected through their marriage and work in their guesthouse. Their guesthouse, Kulla Dula, is a typical Kosovar and special house, built around 1900. Mixed with antique and modern elements, this tower offers tourists a comfortable and unique stay.

Ferijalle, “Usually I am very busy and I do not have enough time to attend such trainings, but I can say that I am very happy to be part of this wonderful journey. "I did not think how many opportunities we could have missed just because we were hesitant or not open-minded enough."
Myrteza, "From this training we learned from mentors and participants how to improve our business financially and how to reduce impacts in kind. "I will always be grateful to SLK for this golden opportunity that helped us improve not only ourselves but also the community around us."

Burim Sallauka completed his studies in "Management and Economics" and afterwards opened a restaurant in Prevallë, together with his brother, Ibrahim. He is also the Vice President of the "Kosovo Chamber of Hospitality and Tourism". Restaurant "KOHA" is a family business established for the first time in 2002 in Prevallë, the tourist village among the beautiful Sharr Mountains. Along with the traditional restaurant they offer accommodation services, and the ski-lift for skiing during the winter season. Butrint Sallauka, is an architecture student at UBT college. Festina Sallauka, is a law student at the Faculty of Law, at Ukshin Hoti University. Together they help the family with the management of the business.

Flaka Bamja, representative of Sharri Ecotour, a small company, but with the aim of sustainable tourism development within the Sharr region, and officially operating since 2014, works with organized groups and individual visits both in Prizren and in Kosovo.

Sharri Prizren Ecotourism and Tourist Information Center offers various tourist services, such as tourist packages, tourist guides, and promotes the Prizren region, including tourist visits to cultural and historical monuments as well as eco-visits to natural heritage, such as Sharri National Park and Park. National Accursed Mountains.

Galdim Jusufi, participated in this training as the owner of City Hostel in Prizren. This hostel is located in a perfect location of this city really close to the main attractions. In addition to the very functional and modern rooms, in this hostel during the hot summer days tourists can spend their free time on the terrace with romantic views of the beautiful city.

Medisa Segdati Karavidaj with more than 15 years of experience in the tourism industry, she has contributed to the development of rural tourism in the Sharri Mountains, has provided assistance to stakeholders (especially young people and women) through various projects. She constantly works on personal and professional development by attending various programs and seminars in order to give her contribution to the development of rural tourism in the Sharr region. She participated in the training as a representative of the travel company Vector, a company that deals with the transport sector, and which has branches both in Kosovo and abroad (Montenegro, Germany).

"I am very grateful for this unforgettable experience and for the knowledge and professionalism expressed by other participants. "I hope that in the future we will have such meetings which will help us make Kosovo as 'green' and sustainable as possible."

Metush Isma has over 30 years of experience as an Environmental and Forest Inspector in Rahovec, and also owns "Bio-Farm" family business. His business is collecting and cultivating trees, mainly pears and plums. Lying at an altitude of over 500 m, the plantations are completely harmless to the soil. Moreover, since there are several wells in this plantation, he plans to create 3 small lakes, which can then attract different species of birds to his land.

Taulant Hoxha, a passionate person about nature and tourism, today finds himself advocating and contributing in both fields. In 2016 he founded a business, where he found the adventure tour operator "SuperXplorers", a tour operator which creates and develops various adventurous and natural tourism activities. This business gave him the opportunity to visit places in Kosovo and Albania rich in such beauties that leave you breathless. In addition, he also works as a communications and tourism development manager for one of the largest animal protection organizations. This experience gave him the opportunity to learn more about wildlife and become an expert in animal protection.

Valdete Dakaj, an economist by profession, since 2016 is an active entrepreneur in the tourism and hotel sector, respectively owner of Hotel Alvida, in the historic city of Prizren. The inspiration for tourism and the initial experience in this economic sector was taken from her late father who gave her the opportunity to be the leader of this successful family business.

She cultivated his passion for tourism and hospitality during the period when she lived in Switzerland, where she also worked for several years in this sector. Her professional experience in this developed country with a high diversity, where the tourism sector is developed and with a long tradition. Experience in Switzerland, especially communication with different communities, has been more than helpful in her professional development. This has helped and continues to help her grow her business.

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