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The project is cofinanced by PHARE Programme 2005 Neighborhoad Programme Bulgaria - Republic of Macedonia


Integrated Project
“Cross-border Regions Gotse Delchev – Strumitsa –
a Cultural Puzzle in a New Europe”

Bulgaria - Macedonia ( FYROM)
Total budget: 99 000 euro  
Period: December 2007-November 2008  
Leading organization: Business Incubator-Gotse Delchev Entrepreneurship Center BI-GD, Bulgaria
Partner: Foundation for SMEs Development, Strumitsa Macedonia

Activities on the Bulgarian side of the border are financed by EU through PHARE CBC – Bulgaria and National BG budget 87% and co -financed by BI-GD 13%
Activities on the Macedonian side of the border are financed by EU through CARDS FYROM and National MK budget 95 % and co - financed by the Foundation 5%.

Overall objective: to stimulate the sustainable Tourist economy of the Gotse Delchev-Strumica cross-border region through promotion and effective use of cultural heritage and human resources.
Specific objectives:

1. To encourage effective and sustainable use of the preserved nature and the rich historical and cultural heritage of the Gotse Delchev-Strumica region through intensive cultural exchange;
2. To stimulate cross-border cooperation and develop local capacity and network of the public, non-governmental, and private sectors for development of the eco and cultural tourist products and promoting the region Gotse Delchev-Strumica as an attractive place for cultural tourism and relaxation;
3. To support local capacity develop for utilization of EU funds and Community Initiatives programmes

Target groups: 10 Local municipal authorities responsible for culture and economic development and departments for Euro integration and village authority representatives; 20 Local tourist businesses - managers and owners of family hotels, guest houses, restaurants, attractions, crafts; 10 Local tourist and branch organizations-Tourist Association, Tourist Society, Tourist Sports Clubs, Tourist Council and Entrepreneur organizations; 30 Local cultural organizations: Chitalista, folklore performers, museums and 10 Local Media from the Gotse Delchev-Strumica region

Estimated results:
20 new jobs in 2008, incomes in tourism sector increased by 5% in 2008;
Local capacity developed -80 beneficiaries trained and have knowledge and skills:

  • to identify and develop attractions and promote them -60 people
  • to work in a network for cultural tourism development–50 people;
  • how to benefit from EU funds and proposal development-50 people,

Tourist database for the region Gotse Delchev-Strumica;
Developed 10 new cultural tourist attractions, and 10 tourist tours: customs and traditions, rural tourism, crafts, religious tourism, spa, traditional food, ethnology and folklore, nature, regional tour;
Developed website, tourist map with 25 cultural attractions and brochures with the most attractive places in Gotse Delchev–Strumica region;
Organized a cross-border Festival of customs and traditions with at least 50 performers and 10 tour operator and media

1. Summarizing and analyzing partners’ experience in the tourism and knowledge transfer
2. Selection of the beneficiaries who will actively participate in all activities
3. Organizing Local initiative groups in Strumica
4. Local Capacity Development

Trainings for beneficiaries:

    • to identify interesting components of cultural heritage and develop them as tourist products and promote them in the best way
    • opportunity for financing of their ideas and utilizing good EU practice
    • working together with marketing experts to develop and test new tourist attractions in villages

5. Development of United tourist database for the region Gotse Delchev-Strumica
6. Cross – border Capacity Development: Study visits and common meetings and workshops, Forum on networking on local, regional and cross-border levels
7. Development of common tourist routes as a cultural puzzle
8. Marketing activities – promotional materials: brochures, map, web-site and the final event the Cross-border Festival of Customs and Traditions.

As a result: better capacity-more tourist destinations-higher economic growth-better life standard, the community of the region will have significant improvement in particular after access to the EU funds.

The projects which the Business Incubator-Gotse Delchev elaborates and implements the focus is on the active involvement and practical work with the project target groups to achieve concrete results. We use the methodology of knowledge transfer and learning by doing. ICT is an important component of our work however it is a meaning to achieve our objectives not a core of the project.
As a matter of fact we develop local and cross –border capacity of the local people, develop tourist products on the base of cultural heritage and nature and use marketing approaches.
The main objective is to stimulate the sustainable tourist economy of the Gotse Delchev-Strumica cross-border region through promotion and effective use of cultural heritage and human resources.
How it works:

  • We identify active representatives of local authorities, businesses, NGOs, tourist associations and clubs, craftsman, folklore groups, musicians and other people connected with tourism. They are the project target groups. And we include local and regional media in the process
  • As the BI-GD team has the experience in sustainable tourism development and transfer this experience and knowledge in a cross-border Macedonian region which is just in the beginning but has a potential
  • The BI team and experts work together with those target groups to develop real partnership and concrete products
  • Trainings and workshops are very interactive and always with practical task to be completed. For example the workshop for tourist attractions finished with presentations of the elaborated attractions by the trained groups in Bulgaria and in Macedonia. And trainees learn by each other presentation and ideas and understand how to sell their product to tour operators
  • The team collects ideas and continues working with people to develop the tourist routes
  • The most active participants on the both sides of the border participate in study visits: Macedonians in BG and Bulgarians in Macedonia. It is like an award for their efforts and they have the responsibility to test the developed tourist products in the neighbor country and to learn by good practice and successful businesses. 
  • The exchange of information, communication with partners and most of the target groups and media is via Internet.
  • Development of common cross-border tourist routes using the rich potential: preserved nature, interesting national costumes and customs, villages with rural tourism, delicious food and wine and cultural monuments – well preserved churches and monasteries, traditional crafts manufactured mainly by minorities   
  • Marketing activities:
    • development of promotional material – printed brochures and web-site
    • promotion among the tour operators in BG and MK
    • promotion among the state tourist institutions
    • media promotion

And the closing promotional event – The Festival of the Customs and Traditions where all the products developed under the projects will be promoted by the participants in the project:

  • developed tourist attractions – funny customs with national costumes or mask
  • developed tourist routes
  • developed web-site
  • arts and crafts
  • local food  with natural ingredients
  • the most attractive villages will be visit by the invited tour operators and media

And to answer the question what makes the tourism sustainable:  The BI-GD has established partnership for friendly use of the nature and cultural heritage and the team creates the link between the tourist product and the market. We work with tour operators and take the responsibility for the quality of the product on local level and package the “puzzles” any tour operator wants. As a matter of fact it is a real tourist cluster.  And it is an incubation of such a cluster.

Business Incubator - Gotse Delchev