Tourism and Hospitality Business Promotion
- Community Growth
- North Macedonia
This project aims to capitalize on the recent tourism boom in our town thanks to the development of a paragliding scene. Our proposal’s goal is to create a functioning non-governmental organization that focuses on developing tourism, promotion, and the hospitality business sector. The first objective of this proposal is to provide a centralized platform for tourists to access hospitality services, learn about local attractions & events, and generally guide their experience while visiting. We’ll work in conjunction with local businesses to help train them how to capitalize on internet marketing and provide them the opportunity to control a page marketing their services on our website. The second objective is to pursue workshops, trainings, and individualized projects with local businesses to help strengthen their capacity to attract & service tourists. We intend to work with 20 different institutions through a mixture of group workshops designed to promote best practices to individualized projects designed to meet specific needs through matching them with relevant resources in the community. Our third and final objective is to provide an opportunity for youth members to groom various soft skills as well as hard skills related to the hospitality & tourism industry. We estimate we’ll provide chances for approximately 12 youth, aged 15-25, to volunteer & gain relevant experience in graphic design, photography, and content writing. Furthermore, they’ll work in a team environment that will help promote soft skills such as initiative, teamwork, communication, and time management.
This project proposal was initially brought to my attention by a member at the Municipality in the Local Economic Development department, where he’s involved in a range of projects from local festivals to an EU Cross-Borders Adrenaline Tourism grant. He, along with four others, have been working on the team for slightly over a year. Together, they’ve been working to build a centralized point of promotion for the town to match the incredible tourist boom that’s begun to manifest. They’ve been promoting local events, culture, & attractions that represent the town’s core touristic offer. At the moment, they’re the only non-formal group, NGO, or institution in the area dedicated solely to promotion of the town. After learning of this project, I took meetings with other stakeholders in the town. These parties included members from the Municipality, Swiss Embassy, and Paragliding Info Club. Much of their feedback lined up with elements already brought forth, corroborating the need for certain elements in the town.
The team now is focused on expanding their capabilities. Given that, the project proposer approached me with this project idea. We worked to flesh it out, and turn it into a sustainable, efficient, and beneficial long-term project for the community. That’s included designing a long-term structure for the team as they expand their activities, plan workshops & create focus groups to integrate various stakeholders from the hospitality sector. Local, partner institutions have agreed to provide their expertise as needed as well as funding for long-term aspects of the project such as maintaining an online presence & providing funds for the application fee to become a certified NGO in the future. Finally, given that a part of the project entails recruiting youth members to participate in the projects activities, the team sent out a public survey to the local youth asking a range of questions. Of the 97 responses we received, we had strong positive feedback on a youth interest in volunteering in the activities of our project. Thus, we feel confident moving forward that we’ll have enough volunteer interest in the project, and youth from the community will be significantly involved.
Tourism and Hospitality Business Promotion has three predominant focuses for long-term sustainability. We believe these focuses will help overcome potential problems, and allow the group to continue growing year over year. Thus, the team will be able to continue its activities in the long term, and continue pursuing new projects after the official, material support from Peace Corps is ended. The first is establishing an internal structure of responsibility that delegates various roles. This will help ensure that activities are being constantly kept up with, and team members have realized commitments to different roles. These roles will ensure everyone is aware of what aspects of the project they’re directly responsible for taking ownership of. The team will have monthly meetings to check in & discuss problems as well as progress over the last month. This will allow everyone to touch base while also brainstorming challenges & eventual obstacles.
The second is planning three avenues of potential income so that future projects can be internally funded & pursued. The first is establishing a free donation platform for interested individuals to contribute. Second, we plan to begin offering paid tour guide services once enough guides have been certified, and in the meantime will offer volunteer tours with the option to donate if tourists are inclined to support the organization. This will help us start to build a base for these tours & relevant experience for our guides so that once services begin to be a paid service, they’ll be appropriately prepared. Thirdly, once the website begins to post high enough traffic, as prescribed in the Goals & Objectives, we’ll approach businesses & offer advertisement services helping promote their brands. Through these three avenues, we anticipate being able to map out a long-term growth plan. The specifics of this will be finalized at during the 2-year strategic plan meeting at project end, however we expect each to be a viable avenue to pursue.
The third focus is based on support from our local partners who help sponsor this initiative. The Municipality and the local tourism high school have agreed to be partners in the project, and have planned to support in several ways. We anticipate this partnership can, and will, continue as the group continues to grow. Their combined expertise & support will help us navigate potential problems that arise. Furthermore, the support of the local high school will help lead new youth volunteers to the organization, providing the opportunity to overcome yearly turnover in the volunteer committees.
Finally, we expect our local partners on the business side to express great interest. Many businesses in the tourism sector lack a professional online presence and are actively looking for ways to improve their offer. A number of meetings, workshops, and conferences are regularly held on the topic of improving the touristic offer in the area, and it’s common for business owners to attend these meetings. We expect a similar level of interest in our own activities, and we’ll provide multiple examples at the workshop of how projects of this type have significantly enhanced businesses in the past.