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A Stakeholder Identification Perspective

A Stakeholder Identification Perspective

Shkodra, Fieri, Berati, and Korça are the tourist destinations currently developing the tourism sector through the support of the Albanian Development Fund and the EBRD program “Tourism Led model for Local Economic Development”.
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The creation and definition of an influential brand that draws attention while reflecting sustainability and representation, is an important part of the project. The aim of the project is to achieve brands that encompass numerous authentic elements of the aforementioned municipalities and their distinctive features, given that the brand will serve as an address, a direction, and a jewel within the guide. Differently from previous experience, the brand’s essence will be construed by people involved in the tourism sector and are at the avant-garde of the industry in these cities. Thus, the brand is not predisposed and drawn to some offices, but it is the result of a wide consultation process, dialogue, and in-person exchange of many ideas and opinions. This was also the purpose of the latest meetings that took place in these 4 municipalities.
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In the framework of the “Tourism for Albania” project, 4 roundtables were organized with the stakeholders and tourism industry experts during the first week of October. These meetings brought together managers of culture, cultural heritage institutions, businesses, local communities interested in the enhancement of the touristic potential in these areas, policy-makers and researchers, and friends of the cities, of history, and of art. The purpose: enhancing sustainable tourism and promoting it. Thus, this stage of the project gathered the best local experts to discuss this group’s engagement/ role in terms of the process for the creation and development of the touristic brand for each municipality. The way in which field experts and business representatives in Albania were involved at various stages, clearly indicates the project’s comprehensive approach. Such an approach transforms locals into protagonists capable of developing the sector and mitigating negative impacts, by simultaneously learning from best practices on the advancement of the economy through tourism.

This comprehensive strategy for the development and establishment of a tourist brand requires cooperation and communication not only between the public and private sectors but also between the other groups which represent important segments of society. These actors have all been identified since the project’s initiation and were invited to participate in several consultative processes on the creation of tourist brands for Shkodra, Fier, Berat, and Korça.

Shkodra

Thus, during the meeting in Shkodra, on the 3rd of October 2022,  the discussions were lively and highlighted the characteristics of the city’s identity, including the “promises” made to the tourist. Some participants embraced the idea of water as an element that surrounds the city and as the source of life that must be reflected in the new tourism brand. Nature and the northern alps are a WOW for every tourist that visits Shkodra. The element of Shkodra hospitality should not be left out of the brand and communication strategy drawing. Furthermore, the elements characterise the locals, such as self-irony and the fine sense of humor, a lifestyle in this city through which people overcome obstacles and the difficulties of life.

Culture and history were embraced by the participants by highlighting the open-mindedness of Shkodra women over centuries, without overlooking historical facts such as the first art city to have a photography shop/studio, the first opera, or even the first musical band. The first theatre, the first football club, and the first printing house. And many, many more. A city that is wrapped in optimism and that transmits it to every visitor. All-in-one in the city of art and culture.

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Fieri

On the other side, on the 5th of October, the participants and Fier took us on an archaeological journey – that of religious tourism in monasteries and churches, the community co-existence, and lately the impressive development of agritourism.

Other participating experts highlighted the widening of the touristic product in order to promote Fier as a quality destination where tourists may enjoy variations starting from the unspoiled coastline to the traditional cuisine through the blossoming agritourism. Fier eagerly needs discovering, and there are destinations that have not yet been properly showcased.

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Berat

Berat, the city of stories behind windows, of the idyllic and poetic realm in between vineyards and a glass of wine, the city of adventure and escape, now needs to be spoken of by the visitors themselves. This is what the participants of the meeting on the 6th of October told us. They highlighted the tours in the old houses or surrounding villages, where raw products such as olives, oil, figs, or cherries mark the culmination for every local and foreign visitor. There are many unique and historical features that should merge with the living elements of life and agritourism into a brand that greatly represents this special city. There were many proposals and promising ideas by the participants to the meeting with the marketing and tourism development experts.

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Korça

Korça marked the end of this journey of ideas and creativity on the 7th of October. We were greeted by the debate among experts, and the atmosphere of a Little Paris, as also highlighted by the participants. All the roads lead to Korça’s city center, differently from other cities, one of the tourism council members pointed out. There are many destinations to visit and see, but above all, the human element, the one that makes a visitor feel both far away and in an unfamiliar environment, as well as at home.

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More than 70 experts participated in these meetings, at this stage of the project. Through their contribution, they brought to the table opinions and proposals on the brand concept. They considered that the brand concept of their city, such as the name or symbol representing the region, must be based on local geographical attractions. Furthermore, the particularity of the product, location, and attributions, as well as the local experience, should be included in the brand creation and be part of it. The annual events and festivals are indispensable to tourism sustainability in the country – events that also massively enhance and transmit the brand.

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