BALKANIA is an association for Balkan Alternative tourism which consists of eight member countries from the Balkans and Italy. Its activities include realisation of projects from the domain of tourism in order to promote the entire Balkan region as a tourist destination. In addition, its purpose is to restore the positive image of the Balkans in the public eye and promote its exceptional natural, historical, cultural and anthropological heritage.

The name of the association, BALKANIA, sounds like a name of a new imaginary land on the territories represented by the hospitality of their population. In fact, one of the objectives of the project as a whole is to create a virtual geographic region that includes the territories and regions which are today identified with the term BALKANS.

The efforts of the association are aimed at channelling its energy to all forms that are the alternative to mass tourism, and which are in terms of the development of macro sectors identified as natural tourism, rural tourism and cultural tourism. Heed office is in Skopje- Macedonia . In  Sofija there already is small office of  Balkanija .                            

Balkania already  realize  activities  and  events  to promote rural  region ,  to  initiate   rural  development . Balkania  have  contract with  municipality  Demir  Hisar  to  use next  10 year building in village  Babino   for  educative  center  for  rural  development and  rural  tourism.

Now  the  object is  under  reconstruction and  we  will start  with  educative programs after  reconstruction and organized  the  object .

Vlado Srbinovski - President of Balkania

BALKANIA is estabilished on 24 .03.2009 in Skopje, in agreement with the macedonian laws. It is formed under initiative of few groups of partners relevant in tourism, from Macedonia, Bulgaria and Italy

With members from Bulgaria, Serbia, Monte Negro , Albania, Bosna and Hercegovina ,Grece , Kosovo and Macedonia . The honour president is from Italy Mr. Fabio Cotifava , and the President n duty is from Macedonia Mr. Vlado Srbinovski . The places in the Leaderboard are filled by competent representatives of every contry-member. All of the establishers are from Macedonia, because it is rightfull by the laws of the country.                                                                                                                                                                    

Fabio Cotifava Honor President

Most of the members are in the field of tourism, but there are also other profiles connected and interested in joining our work.

Between the members there are many municipalities, five high education institutions – University of Tourism and Management Skopje, State Faculty of Economy from Macedonia, Faculty of Geography and Tourism Sofija from Bulgaria, Faculty of Tourism in Kotor, Montenegro and Faculty of Economy from Korca, Albania; collaboration with educational institutions is important for Balkania because development in education is a priority to all of the countries of the Balkan and there is a lot that an NGO like us could do to improve the situation. Also our members are many municipalities from the region, many other NGO, associations for rural development, stakeholders of tour operators agencies and hotels, associations of mountaineers, speleologists, tour guides and similar, foundations like “Slow food”, two tourism chambers including all of their members (124 and 80), as well as many persons involved in the tourism development.

Besides already accomplished projects, Balkania is now oriented in editing tour guide about Macedonia like the one already published in Italian, but in other languages. We are also working on collecting data for publishing a tour guide for the Balkans, which is planned to be ready in 2012.

On the same database we will make software with which tourist could easily plan their tours on the Balkans, and it would be also used by tour operators for eased working on this area.

One of our constant duties is being part of international tourism and ecotourism fairs, because that way we provide visibility for our members we are representing, and we open doors for them to expand and collaborate with new partners. Also, they can always be in contact with any subject we introduce during that kind of manifestation.

With our partners from Italy we are working on continued marketing campaign and activities to promote the Balkans position on the Italian market. One of the activities in this context was the mentioned tour guide on 240 pages on Italian language. It is already one of the main tools for the tour operators that are interested in creating tours for Macedonia, and that is why we distribute it for free. About are future activities, in May this year we applied to an EU programme for project financing with a project containing activities for integration, which is our primary area of interest and action. The project now is in process of evaluation by the commission, and if the answer is affirmative, we will be working with teams from 3 other countries – Italia, Bulgaria and Serbia, with a budget of 500.000 euro, on developing a tourist railway line between these countries (Balkan Express).

We have also worked on few smaller intern projects, and also applied with projects for strengthening the over border communications for that kind of EU funds, which are also in process of evaluation and are waiting for approval.

Balkania attended many conferences and meetings:

  • Conference for sport and culture dialog “Sport for all” which was organized by ISCA, held in Skopje and 8 countries took participation.
  • PREPARE 2010 – Conference for rural tourism development in Ohrid.
  • PREPARE 2011 – Conference for rural tourism development in Zlatibor Serbia
  • TAIEK – Workshop on rural development organized by Commission of EU and our Ministry of Economy.
  • Also Balkania initiates and supports many activities of this type on local level.

Among our members there are some municipalities from Macedonia that are very interested and have the potential for developing rural and agricultural tourism.

For example, Berovo is a municipality in Eastern Macedonia with highest concentration of oxygen on the Balkans and with highest insolation level also (286 days per year). Than we have Staro Nagoricane where Kokino old observatory 4000 years , and Sv. Gjorgija (11 century) are located. Also, municipality of Demir Hisar, where Babino is located, has great natural and cultural value and a plan for its valorisation in rural tourism, which includes our project.

Balkania has the capacity for even bigger projects:

We have applied in IPA overborder collaboration funds with partners from Albania, for grants that are approved for this kind of projects. In this project Balkania will stand for functional leader for Municipality of Debar from Macedonian, and Municipality of Peskopeja from Albanian side, in a project for alternative tourism development in the border region and collaboration between municipalities.

Also we’ve applied with UCODEP (Italian NGO) and another NGO from Bodrum, Turkey, on a project for connecting and valorisation of the cultural heritage of Skupi (the ancient city near Skopje) and the heritage of Bodrum, using the experiences and guidance of Italy.

Balkania is a association and it exists a short period of almost two years. It has been established in Macedonia and the main office is in Skopje and that is the reason why most of its activities and results by now are pointed in Macedonia. By this time we’ve made great structure of people and contacts, and are still working on getting Balkania affirmed as a brand, which we have achieved on some level, so we get higher appreciation and credibility when working with new partners and other subjects in tourism.

We have intensive collaboration with the National Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism in Macedonia, Ministry of Economy, other NGO and associations, and we took part in many local projects, activities and happenings. For example, we took place in few promotions of traditional national food in Berovo and Jance together with Slow Food, and we will next appear on a fair of Slow Food in Torino, Italy.

We also have long collaboration history with association of craftsmen Denica (120 craftsman members) and we take part in organizing many of their Bazaars – manifestatios for promoting their crafts. This autumn we will have three program activities on event like this, organized by the national association of craftsman.

We collaborate and support hiking, mount biking and associations for extreme sports as ones particularly important for shaping the inner alternative tourism movements.

Mong our primary goals is to develop a structure standing for rural tourism. On Balkania’s initiation an Association for Alternative Tourism was formed, and now we will be partners on connecting subjects in local nets and clusters, because that is the only way the small subjects could promote themselves on the tourism market.