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Supporting Tourism in Montenegro- Strengthening the Ski Industry

Published 04/14/2011 by Global Communities

Supporting the Ski Industry in Montenegro
PHOTO: The training brought program participants over five routes through the mountains
CHF International’s USAID-funded Economic Growth Project, implemented in Montenegro, and the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea recently partnered with HB Welcome, a Montenegro-based service provider, to organize a training for snowshoeing and ski mountaineering instructors. Held from April 1-2, 2001, the training took place in the northern mountainous region of Montenegro. Led by six renowned Italian winter sports instructors, the session was designed to enable participants, who were students and winter sports instructors, to train others in snowshoeing and ski mountaineering.
The activity, implemented by HB Welcome and conceived by its director, Riccardo Bonetti, began months before the training in early April. For several months, the Italian instructors explored and mapped five routes for snowshoeing and ski mountaineering in the Bjelasica and Komovi region. The maps were organized into brochures and presented at a ceremony, which was held before the two day training, to explain the training to the public and to share the maps and detailed descriptions of the ski and snowshoe routes.
While Snowshoeing is a traditional sport, ski mountaineering is a relatively new form of skiing that entails ascending a mountain on special skis and then skiing back down in more traditional fashion. This form of skiing is rapidly increasing in popularity in the West, as it enables avid skiers to explore new mountains that do not feature lifts and other traditional skiing infrastructure. As Dragan Jašević, a student at the Physical Education Department in Niksić who participated in the training says, “Snowshoeing and ski mountaineering are good ways to expand active tourism services during the winter season.’’
A fellow student from Niksic, Zeljko Pajovic, who also serves as a mountaineering and ski instructor in Bjelasica, concurs. He believes that ”in order to take advantage of the potential that we have, it is important to develop awareness among the local population of the opportunities that are available – either as a form of tourism and recreation, or as a way to generate income.”
In addition to introducing this new type of skiing and seeking to popularize active tourism more generally in northern Montenegro, the project was designed to raise awareness of the wealth of natural beauty in Montenegro among foreign audiences. In order to spread the message of what the north has to offer, the two-day event included a press event for journalists from from two popular Italian magazines, Alp and Ski Alper, which are dedicated to ski mountaineering. Nevertheless, Pajovic believes that “international recognition of the north as a destination for active tourism will largely depend on increased investment in infrastructure and training for local people in providing quality service.”
CHF’s Economic Growth Project is designed to help Montengrin tourist professionals do just that, through training and technical assistance to improve the range and quality of services, coordination of marketing activities, and efforts to help tourism providers in the north to not only preserve their natural and culture heritage, but to utilize it as a selling point in their tourism offering.