Reaching out in the Rhodopes

Nature-related tourism training helps more than 30 participants in the Eastern Rhodopes.

Last week more than 30 participants took part in a second nature and vulture-related tourism development training session in the Eastern Rhodopes, organised by Rewilding Rhodopes and the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds.

Betty Vassileva, owner of Wild Farm B&B in the Madzharovo valley of the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, took part in the training course.

Betty Vassileva, owner of Wild Farm B&B in the Madzharovo valley of the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, took part in the training course.
Staffan Widstrand/ Rewilding Europe

This specialised course, offered to small businesses and aspiring local guides in bird-watching and tourism experience delivery, also provided a brief introduction to current international trends in nature-based tourism, thereby helping participants promote their products and services in international markets.  The seminar proved popular, and was well received by local entrepreneurs and businesses, such as guesthouses, tour operators and local tourist guides.

Participants also discussed how to raise the profile of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area on the world bird and nature tourism map.

Participants also discussed how to raise the profile of the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area on the world bird and nature tourism map.
Dimitar Gradinarov

With an annual growth rate of up to 14%, nature-based tourism is the fastest growing tourism sector in the world, and we are now witnessing a fundamental shift in both consumer and industry mindset. As part of the “experiential travel” trend, people are increasingly demanding unique and memorable experiences. This trend allows people to disconnect from their daily life and routines and reconnect with nature.

One particular focus of the training was the better promotion of Madzharovo and the Rhodope Mountains rewilding area on the world bird and nature tourism map. The area has a good starting position, despite international competition and the fact that Bulgaria as a country was a late entrant in the nature tourism market. One of the area’s main advantages is its cultural similarity and territorial proximity to other major European tourist markets, as well as its reasonable prices.

Lecturers and participants also discussed the crucial role of building partnerships between local businesses.

life-vultures-colour“In order to be successful and competitive, local entrepreneurs need to cooperate rather than compete,” said Simon Collier, Rewilding Europe’s Wildlife Tourism Manager and a highly experienced nature-based tourism expert, who gave a talk as part of the training.

The seminar was organized within the project “Conservation of black and griffon  vultures in the Rhodope Mountains” , funded by the LIFE Programme of the European Union. Find out more about the project here.

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