Krusevo and Elbasan – acknowledged tourism CB destination

Type of Contract/CategoryGrant contract
IPA Component/ (national or regional) Programming yearCross-border Programme the Republic of North Macedonia – Republic of Albania under the Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II) allocations for 2018 – 2020
Lead applicant and co-applicantsLead applicant: Municipality of Krusevo (MK) Co – applicants: Municipality of Elbasan (AL) Center for Sustainable Development ALKA (MK) Tjeter Vizion TVO (AL)
Context/backgroundThe CB region of North Macedonia and Albania, with its rich natural and cultural heritage, represents strong potential for tourism development. Active and adventure tourism is the fastest-growing sector in the tourism industry in the last decades in the world. In recent years many tourist products were created and developed, attracting many tourists in the CB areas, especially in the narrow region of high untouched mountain and National Parks. Basic infrastructure was established concerning the active tourism, marking and signposting of mountain trails, increasing the number of small accommodation and hospitality facilities in the urban and rural areas, offering various activities: Mountaineering, Hiking Climbing, Trekking, Geocaching, Backpacking, Mount-Biking, Paragliding, Camping, Agro-Tourism, etc. History – Both regions, Krusevo and Elbasan, by looking at history have long traditional values, the meaning of its nature and the cultural heritage, which is an everlasting reminder of historical and cultural events that can be presented to the tourists. Combined with the major active tourism, both CB areas can give one complete touristic package. Due to the specific geographical position, Krusevo is considered as highest mountain town on the Balkan Peninsula, with an altitude of over 1350 m a.s.l. Krusevo has a form of a nest, with amphitheatrically positioned houses with typical and sustained Krushevo architecture. Krusevo builders, painters, and carvers have become famous names in other parts of the country and wider. The town is enclosed by mountains that include many touristic places to visit. Among those are: Meckin Kamen (Bears Stone) area, the picnic sites, remodelled existing paragliding run and built paragliding centre according to international standards, many hiking, and mount-biking trails. It has a two-sitter Cable car leading from the city to the ski terrains, resorts, museums, colossal monuments, monasteries/churches, art galleries, old foundry, and many other tourism possibilities. Seeing as a whole, Krusevo itself is an architecture museum. For a long period, Krusevo strategically works to increase and diversify the touristic offer during the entire year and welcome foreign and domestic tourists, especially to prolong their stay. Evidence for Elbasan and surroundings’ existence goes back from ancient and early byzantine periods. A trading post called Scampis, near the todays modern Elbasan, developed close to a junction of two branches of an important Roman road (Via Egnatia), connecting the Adriatic coast (Rome) and Byzantium (Constantinople). During Ottoman Empire, the city and fortress were rebuilt and got the city name Elbasan, meaning ‘conquered country’ in Turkish. Then Elbasan was a city with a mixture of eastern and medieval buildings, narrow cobbled streets, and a large bazaar. The city and near surroundings still have various religious sites: churches, monasteries, mosques, and shrines. Nowadays, Elbasan Municipality explores all its potentials to combine cultural and active tourism and become one influential economic sector and chiefly thinking of the closest natural area of Funar which is often visited. It was an initiative to give the site the deserved name “Touristic FUNAR“, including various active touristic offers (hiking, mount-biking, paragliding, kayaking, water sports etc.). Thus, Elbasan and all project partners can truly gather all Krusevo’s experiences, for strategic acting. Potentials for active tourism – Krusevo, Elbasan-Funar, have the highest possibilities for developing a dynamic and sustainable tourism sector. Close to the European markets, both countries are marked among new active travel emerging places. The combination of excellent geographic and weather conditions in Krusevo and outstanding thermals of Pelagonia valley allows safe paragliding take-offs and safe landings. The growing Krusevo popularity is for the active mountainous actions (Hiking, climbing, and mountain biking), blended with its historical/cultural settings. Funar area that is only 20km from Elbasan has plenty of similarities with Krusevo. What makes Funar province attractive are the: Highest peak of Korra with 1418m a.s.l, the three rivers that start their flow from Funar, the four artificial lakes/reservoirs, mountains with many climbing, hiking for different age groups, paragliding, biking spaces, and with quite diverse vegetation. Until recently, Funar was forgotten due to the 3 hours trip on the ruined road, and today, the road is paved, and one can reach the place within 1 hour. With investment portions in the next two years, this area can be turned into a tourism area for local and foreign tourists.
Abstract (short project summary)Krusevo and Elbasan, as CB areas’ destinations, with a combined offer for tourists, such as the environment, valuable nature, protracted history and culture, active / adventure tourism potentials (paragliding, active sports, hiking, mount-baking, water sports), and many more, have firmly decided to go world top-level as touristic destinations. With the setting of the proposed infrastructure improvements for active tourism, the planned joint strategic actions for developing and promoting one CB tourism package, the unique set of capacity-building measures, as well as actions for strengthening the cross border stakeholder cooperation, the project opens new economic opportunities for the urban/rural communities. That is why the Overall project objective is focused on long-term stable and sustainable tourism growth that achieves a balance between environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism to guarantee long-term benefits to both communities and the countries as the CB areas. The project will provide proper access to already developed modern paragliding centres, air quality and wind measuring stations, appropriate tourism info centres, accompanied with diverse soft space offerings, approaching site and additional facilities, properly arranged hiking trail and urban – downhill biking trail, Led lighting but as well as a table/map signposting for pointing out specific tourism-related areas/sites to be visited. All this will be developed appropriately as modern and safe infrastructure, spaces and facilities, constructed to a condition according to the necessary standards and entirely meet the visitor expectations for further implementation and sustainable development of the action. (SO1) The project also works to attract tourists from the CB region and worldwide and increase traveller arrivals in both places, increasing tourists’ length of stay and spending. Besides supporting the active/culture tourism potentials, the project wants to give to the tourists’ one strategic touristic approach and one integrated CB touristic package to promote all tourism potentials that both places can surely give. There is a need to build capabilities of existing/potential tourist animators/guides and rescue service members to attract new ones to go through the certification program later. Also, to develop and implement comprehensive (ASP) and training set of actions for the tourism-related SMEs, (tourism/hospitality service providers) for increasing their management/business knowledge for innovative tourism offers, initiatives for diversification of tourism offer, increasing services’ standards, and online marketing/promotional skills. So project secures an: Integrated touristic promotion and offers ready competitive tourism and hospitality services within CB area Krusevo-Elbasan-Funar, for attracting higher visitors numbers (domestic / foreign) that are satisfied and are further sharing their positive experiences among their friends and relatives. (SO2)
Final beneficiaryDomestic/foreign tourist and visitors, targeted communities with its inhabitants, Local Government Institutions, Agency for promotion and support of tourism of North Macedonia, Entrepreneurs / Investors, Restaurants, Hospitality service providers, Artisans / Handcrafts from Krusevo and Elbasan Municipalities, stakeholders interested in developing active / adventure / cultural tourism.
Action location/sNorth Macedonia, Krusevo Municipality – Krusevo townAlbania, Municipality of Elbasan
ObjectivesOverall objective(s): Contribution to lasting sustainable tourism development, reaching balance among the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects guarantees long-term benefits to both communities and countries. Specific objective(s): (1) Encourage active tourism in both CB areas by developing appropriate, modern, and safe infrastructure, spaces and facilities that will meet the necessary standards for further implementation and sustainable actions development. (2) Develop an integrated touristic promotion and ready competitive tourism and hospitality services in CB area Krusevo – Elbasan for attracting domestic and foreign tourists and visitors.
ActivitiesA1 Infrastructure works Construction of an approaching site for paragliders’ and spectators in MK Mounting two air quality and wind measurement stations for paragliding and other sports purposes in Krusevo. Building and arranging an urban-downhill biking trail in Krusevo Obtaining smart LED lighting of accessible roads in Krusevo, and pointing out the main cultural and historic places/objects/monuments Constructing Tourist Info Center at the entrance of Funar area, Elbasan Constructing a paragliding run on the mountain top Maja e Korres (AL) Developing a hiking trail within Funar area, Elbasan Designing an Itinerary for active tourism, Signposts and maps posts for locating important cultural/historical attractions and places on the move from Elbasan to Funar and within Funar A2. Visibility – Developing an integrated touristic promotional package Designing one unique and comprehensive CB Analyses and Strategy for Marketing, Promotion & Branding of unique Krusevo/Elbasan tourism package Promo event organized for presenting the project action to the public and CBC Analyses and Strategy promoted, as well as the future project steps for Prioritising & Action planning for imminent CBC tourism growth publicised CB tourism fairs (2) attended Online targeted promotional campaign (with market segmentation nature/active and cultural/heritage tourism) of the CBC Krusevo – Elbasan tourism package, encompassing two (6 min.) digital and/or 360º unique videos for (1) nature/active tourism and (1) cultural/heritage tourism Attaining Google pinpointing of specific tourism locations One-stop online CBC Krusevo-Elbasan Tourism Info space established A3. Joint capacity building actions Training portfolio set and continuous ASP-Advisory Support Programme for tourism and hospitality service providers Created TNA and implementing a Training program/guidelines for outdoor tour tourist guides and rescue service members
Impact/ Output/ ResultImpact: Contribution to lasting sustainable tourism development, reaching balance among the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects guarantees long-term benefits to both communities and countries.  More precisely, (1) Encourage active tourism in both CB areas by developing appropriate, modern, and safe infrastructure, spaces, and facilities that will meet the necessary standards for further implementation and sustainable development of the actions, (2) Develop an integrated touristic promotion and ready competitive tourism and hospitality services within CB area Krusevo – Elbasan for attracting domestic and foreign tourists and visitors. Outcome 1.1 Provided contemporary, standardized and safe, active tourism-related infrastructure, facilities, and services as basic preconditions for tourism development. (SO1) Outcome 2.1 Well acknowledged and trendily promoted CB areas of Krusevo and Elbasan with its full touristic potentials. Thus local economy and target areas’ values are enhanced, and the number of visitors is increased. (SO2) Outcome 2.2 Build human capacities and develop competitive local tourist providers / services that offer higher quality services and are known to potential tourists. (SO2)
Facts & FiguresThe key facts & figures relevant to the project:
Facts:     Project duration: 30 months     Project start date: 01.01.2022    Project end date: 30.06.2024 Figures: Total cost of the action: 744 .930,78€ EU contribution: 633.191,16€ EU contribution percentage: 85%
Final useful footnotesContacts Elizabeta Gjorgjievska, ALKA,, 075317070 Tatjana Hasanu, Krusevo,, 075484605