Home Contact Us Projects Clients and Partners Experience Medicinal Plants

Model for Community Based Sustainable Tourism Development in the Area around Rila National Park, Bulgaria (November 2004 - November 2005)

Client: PAN 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 and Samokov.

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.