The Education Centre for Nature Conservation in the village of Negrevo was the place where the new tourist offer for active tourism “Maleshevo – your home in the mountains” was presented.
The event was opened by Marjana Shushlevska, team leader of the Nature Conservation Programme, and was addressed by the Swiss Ambassador to the Republic of North Macedonia – НЕ Sybille Suter Tejada.
“Here we are again, only two weeks after our last visit, in this beautiful environment, in the yard of the Education Centre for Nature Conservation, this time to mark the World Environment Day and the World Cycling Day. For the first time in the country, as part of the Nature Conservation Programme, a pilot regional plan for forest development was elaborated in Maleshevo micro region, with a fully participative approach, including all stakeholders on central and local level. One of the priorities in this plan was to create conditions for the development of mountain adventure tourism by establishing a uniform network system of hiking and biking trails with a total length of 230 km. This big task was completed by Mountain Experience, a tour operator specialized in adventure tourism. In addition to the trails, a whole package of products was developed, such as Guide for active tourism, an Android app, map and a leaflet that would make the region even more accessible to adventure enthusiasts. Switzerland also supports the development of new products for adventure tourism in North Macedonia through the Programme for Increasing Market Employability. Recognizing the huge potential of the Maleshevo region for development of sustainable and friendly nature tourism, the IME programme provided e-bikes, ski equipment for winter sports and safety equipment for tourists. The Ambassador expects and hopes that such initiatives would stir the interest of the local population, tour operators and agencies in the other regions in the country. “These examples confirm that nature can be protected and conserved and at the same time create conditions for better economic development of the region and the local households. Bringing in more tourists, but in a sustainable and organised manner, creates the opportunity for the local population to offer traditional food, drinks and products, to expand the accommodation capacities and for the visitors to acquire new knowledge about natural capital, history and culture.
The Mayor of the Municipality of Pehchevo, Dragan Trenchovski, emphasized that the municipality is committed to sustainable development and the use of natural resources in a way that would not endanger nature and people’s health, and that tourism is one of the pillars for development of the region. In the last few months the Municipality of Pehchevo has been actively working on improving the conditions for investment in the tourist capacities and content, as well as for increasing the appeal and promotion of the tourist potentials. “The network of hiking and cycling trails contributes precisely in this respect, by creating additional content for the tourists, and together with the promotion of natural values, local food and the launching of the Tourist info bureau, will make this region recognizable for tourists, so that in the forthcoming period we are expecting the number of visitors to increase.”
Zvonko Pekevski, the Municipality of Berovo Mayor, stated that the Maleshevo region is a natural whole notable for its natural and cultural values.
“We are particularly happy with the fact that with this project the whole region now has marked hiking and cycling trails, with standard classification; these trails would be of great significance for the promotion of tourism in the Maleshevo region, the developing of mountain and cycling tourism and the local economic development in general.” The Mayor further added: “Exploring the Maleshevo biodiversity, mapping rare and endemic species of plants, animals and habitats, as well as proclaiming Maleshevo a protected landscape, would be of huge importance for the region, thus protecting the existing biodiversity. The successful tourism story would be supported with additional benefits. Becoming part of the European belt of protected areas would make it easier for us to use European funds for this purpose and to join modern trends for environmental protection”.
The event was attended by representatives of the diplomatic corps in the Republic of North Macedonia, ministries, public enterprises, agencies, tour operators, and with the organised hiking and biking tour they had the opportunity to get familiar with the natural beauties and the tourism potentials in the Maleshevo region.
The event was organised by the Nature Conservation Programme in North Macedonia (NCP), coordinated by Farmahem, and the Increasing Market Employability programme, projects by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).