The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program – New Project Followed

Because the world is moving and sustainable innovative ideas continuously arise, MissBlue will follow another interesting project on sustainable tourism. This project was launched in 2012 in Ukraine by VESSELKA Consulting LTD. It consists in an integrated, cross-border approach for eco-tourism in the Black Sea Region. We will have regular updates on the advancements and the result, in order to understand how these European projects can change the lives of people and how sustainability can promise development.

A program for the local communities promoting sustainable tourismResults

The program intends to tap the huge eco-tourism potential of the region to benefit the people living there, businesses serving them and create new economic and travel opportunities through sustainable tourism. The program is about how sustainable or green tourism sector can uniquely contribute to economic development in rural areas and how business can profit from the growth. For this purpose, the program aims to establish a unified system with the creation of a regional net-work of community sustainable tourism products under a permanent visual banner.

“[…] the program itself targets Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia for the first few years to establish procedures, learn from mistakes and only then expand to more than 2 communities per country and to include Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova.”Richard A. Shepard, DirectorVesselka Consulting Ltd.

Why the Black Sea basin?The region represents a vast web of interconnected multicultural experiences, ecological diversity and history spanning thousands of years.

How such program is organized to ensure success?

Organization - Photo Credit VESSELKA CONSULTINGThe program is organized around three main structures. The formal Secretariat is the primary management entity but which will not be involved in day to day matters. The next level of management is a National Program Implementation Organization(NPO); each PIO will handle day to day matters working directly with the final level of management – the Community Management Committee composed of providers and community business and local government representatives.

The program will provide through volunteers, universities and written materials, training in business planning and strategic development strategy.A specially formed Black Sea Tourism company will direct and arrange trips for interested travelers to the communities and promote sponsor and contributor products.

Of course nothing is easy, the main problems include: “Selected regions must be rural and there must be a desire on the part of at least one local leader to push forward the program in the community.  The problems for each country are different. In Ukraine, for example, we needed to overcome the tendency to only think about one self. Community group efforts remain difficult because during the Soviet period everything was required to be (at least on the surface) “community organized”. In Turkey, suspicion of foreigners and getting anyone to answer an email is endemic and proved problematic until a friend of a friend who we knew in Bishkek and had moved to Istanbul made the right introductions resulting with a partnership with WWF-Turkey.  Knowing someone is the only way to do business here.  Georgia is easy. I simply know too many people.” Richard A. Shepard, DirectorVesselka Consulting Ltd.

Last Events and Upcoming events

The program started in Ukraine in 2012 and today is moving forward with partners in Turkey (WWF), Ukraine and Georgia. A three days workshop was just completed in Azdavay attended by 10 participants from Ukraine, one form Georgia and 12 from Turkey.  The workshop was opened by the Governor of Kastamonu Province and Mayor of Azdavay and received coverage in the media. Next event will be in Ukraine at the end of September. There will be several destinations for eco-travelers posted soon on a separate web portal we are developing.

Finally it is important to keep in mind that the Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program is not a fixed time project. It is a permanent structure that will establish a trusted brand for travelers and providers to the region. This fact is quite interesting since it should ensure the continuity of the program and the sustainable results in long-term for local communities. I really wish we could see such initiatives in other countries in Europe since the economical crisis has reduce too much our production activities as much in services than in products.

About Vesselka Consulting

Vesselka Consulting is an independent international organization offering a broad range of professional services. They design and implement initiatives that achieve results and make a difference in commercial and agricultural investments, land administration and management, sustainable tourism and capacity building for public and private sector organizations.

They have partnered with other consulting firms implementing international donor funded projects, but their ability to work with the private sector to promote public – private ventures and assist with private sector investment planning also permits to the company to design and implement their own programs with flexibility, such as The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program.

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