Parks Foundation through the Rila National Park Directorate
The project objectives included: Build local capacity for ecotourism
development in the municipality of Razlog; create a model for multiplication
in other municipalities around the Rila National Park; and disseminate
the results. The project was carried out in the territory of the municipality
of Razlog, and its seven settlements. The center of the project's activities
was Dobarsko village. The participants were local ecotourism service providers
and members of the local Dobarsko Ecotourism Association.
The main approach used in the project is to transfer knowledge and experience
of ecotourism development from the area of the Central Balkan National
Park (Kalofer) and the northern part of Rila National Park (Samokov)-
where local communities and associations have been implementing sustainable
business initiatives in collaboration with the national park directorates
and the support of USAID since 2001- to the Razlog area.
The training program included thematic interactive courses and a Study
Tour. Main trainers were leading ecotourism entrepreneurs from Kalofer
The Project contributed to the creation of capacity for sustainable means
of livelihood that keeps the young people in the villages. The activities
of the Project resulted in greater appreciation of the natural and cultural
heritage by the local community and better understanding and acknowledgement
of the eco-tourism development potential in the municipality. It strengthened
the partnerships between the local community and the Rila NP Directorate
and the other organizations involved as well as among the members of the
community. Good working relations were established between the local community
and their counterparts from the town of Kalofer and Samokov area.
The experience and results of the project were published in a Practical
Guidebook and Methodology for Community Based Ecotourism Development.
The Practical Guidebook and Methodology were presented to local and regional
audiences and were distributed in all other municipalities around Rila
National Park to be used to facilitate the development of sustainable
tourism based on the park's natural attractions. The project also included
public awareness raising activities and a media campaign.