AdventureWeek, a specialized, nine-day familiarization (FAM) journey coordinated by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), will debut in Europe, deep in the ancient cultural crossroads and rugged lands of the Western Balkans featuring Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia between August 26 and September 3, 2014.
The three Southeastern European destinations are engaged in a precedent-setting, cooperative strategy to raise awareness of the adventure potential of the region among international outbound operators, specialized travel agents and international travel journalists.
The ATTA, which has intensified its work in the region over the past two years, will screen up to 25 hosted participants who will join AdventureWeek to explore, discover and experience this destination rich in nature, culture and active offerings for adventure travelers.
In the past, uneven economic development, socio-political dynamics associated with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and military conflicts in some of the countries has made cooperation in the region difficult. To function as one integrated travel destination, the countries in the region have now established effective cooperation to develop joint tourism products, deliver authentic regional experiences and market themselves as one destination.
Buyers and media are to be drawn primarily from the United States, Canada and Western Europe, which represent the source-market focus of this new-for-the-region, multi-destination and trans-border strategy.
While the optimum adventure itinerary is still under development, anticipated highlights of the adventure (approximately three days in each destination) include:
In addition to capturing the memorable sounds of calls to Muslim and Christian prayers, and the ancient chant unique to Albania, still heard in cafes, AdventureWeek participants can expect fresh-from-the-farm food experiences, guided visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites and plenty of opportunities for rafting, cycling, hiking, paragliding and diving throughout Albanian’s mountains, canyons, wilderness, rivers and still-pristine waters and shores of the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
Centered in the Western Balkans, Europe’s newest country will showcase a land steeped in handicrafts and architectural tradition, surrounded by the regionally acknowledged warmth and friendliness of the Kosovar. Monestaries and churches glow with frescoes and Ottoman rulers have left imprints for this group to experience relating to food, music, dance, handicrafts and local culture. Hiking and biking to the mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and scattered villages in Kosovo’s remoter areas, including Kosovo’s highest peak, should suffice for any adventuring spirits.
While exploring an enticing mix of adventure activities, participants will follow in the paths of ancient civilizations, meet surprising spiritual leaders, stay in villages caught in time and enjoy slow-cooked local cuisine alongside healthy portions of homemade rakija and wine. Among 52 peaks over 2,000 meters, the group may hike on paths belonging to bears and lynx, bike through ancient villages and forage for wild herbs, mushrooms and berries as part of a class on cooking local foods. Intrepid travelers may also hike to the base of 1,422 meter Zlatovrv peak, site of Treskavec Monastery (originally a temple for Apollo) and currently one of Europe’s best bouldering, rock climbing and paragliding locations.
A core component of AdventureWeek is a chance for buyers to meet with a group of local operators in each destination in a half-day “marketplace” to create relationships, foster an understanding of the market and begin partnership building.
“The strength of AdventureWeek is that it is designed by adventure travel experts for adventure sellers,” said ATTA President Mr. Shannon Stowell “AdventureWeek has proven to be very effective concept in providing destinations with unmatched opportunities to expose their breadth of product to, and to learn, partner and conduct business with a highly qualified group of international buyers and media.”
In late March and early April 2014, the ATTA conducted the first in a series of reconnaissance missions to help the three destinations craft highly desirable, authentic and innovative adventure travel products. The ATTA and its in-destination partners will complete the final destination review in early May 2014, then offer the final, tailored itineraries. The initial ATTA reconnaissance journey followed a two-day ATTA AdventureEDU education and training program delivered in Macedonia (second for the Western Balkan region), which is part of the preparations to help the region better prepare to receive international arrivals.
The education and training programs, combined with AdventureWeek and the Western Balkans’ presence at the ATTA’s 2014 Adventure Travel World Summit in Killarney, Ireland, 6-9 October, is part of a new collaborative process between the ATTA, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), government tourism agencies, and other public and private organizations and companies from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.
AdventureWeek is one of the key steps in what expected to be a series of adventure tourism development stages for the Western Balkans. The region’s efforts are designed to help it re-emerge as one of Europe’s most desired tourism destinations, all while featuring responsible and innovative adventure tourism product which supports rural economic development while helping to protect the unique cultural and natural assets.
During and post AdventureWeek, an ATTA Storytelling team will document the buyer and media adventures and showcase them through social media as well as share the experiences with 650 adventure travel professionals during the ATTA’s annual Adventure Travel World Summit.
Additional details regarding the itinerary will be made available in June 2014. Interested buyers and media from the targeted region are encouraged to apply here and register now to participate in a free educational webinar on Thursday, 24 April 2014. ATTA’s Executive Director-Europe Chris Doyle and Western Balkans Tourism Team Leader Gergana Nikolova will offer background about precedent-setting collaboration by these three countries and have more details on the AdventureWeek itinerary.