Since 1987, the German Travel Association (DRV) – the umbrella association of the world’s largest outbound market for foreign travel – has rewarded with its environmental award sustainable projects in tourism all over the world.
Montenegro´s Adriatic coast with its white sandy beaches and azure bays is familiar to many, but almost nobody was aware of the nature’s wild beauty in the interior.
The “Wilderness Hiking & Biking” project was initiated in 2007 and included in the national “Tourism Development Strategy to 2020″. It adds attractive adventure activities in the mountainous backcountry to the range of tourist offerings, focussing on beach holidays up to now. The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism and the National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro received the DRV’s International Environmental Award during the 61st Annual Convention of DRV in South Korean Daegu on November 24, 2011.
With the award the EcoTrophea jury rewards the exemplary commitment: “An important impetus for a sustainable development of tourism in the hinterland previously insignificant for tourism was provided through the exemplary cooperation of more than 500 partners ”, Andreas Mueseler, member of the jury and Chairman of the DRV Sustainability Committee, explains the decision.
The project’s objective is to promote sustainable tourism in the rural areas in such a way that the local population profits from it. This could be realized by an unbureaucratic cooperation of local and international experts, nature-enthusiasts, travel agencies, tour operators as well as outdoor specialists.
With the “Wilderness Hiking & Biking” programme the country’s network of hiking and cycling trails through unspoilt nature using ancient paths and historic trade routes. In 2007, Montenegro had more than 3,000 km paved roads for car traffic, but practically no network of hiking and biking trails. This is completely different now: today, Montenegro has about 6,000 km of attractive routes; the “Top Trails” have already been marked and signposted, and the others shall follow step by step. Specialized outdoor tour operators, among them also German ones, have already included tours using these routes in their programmes.
Nature trails and cultural routes make visitors also aware of the importance of protecting the environment and cultural values. At the same time new sources of income are being developed and marketed. For example, the first 20 accommodations are successfully specialising in cycling holidays (“Bed & Bike Montenegro”). The implemented measures have strengthened the economic power and counteracted rural migration.
The “Montenegro Wilderness Biking & Hiking” concept has already proven successful: Numerous new acccommodations and tour operators specialising in hiking and biking tourism opened up in the hinterland, strengthening the local economy by providing guests with local products. Traditional arts and crafts are sold at National Park information centers. In 2010, the National Parks and the North of Montenegro could record a considerable growth in guest numbers and overnight stays as well as a prolonged tourist season.
The EcoTrophea 2011 is considered as a joint recognition to the partners and stakeholders in the whole country, and as motivation to continue on the right path, with the Masterplan goals in mind.
This year’s EcoTrophea awarding marks at the same time the 25th anniversary of the international environment prize.Sustainability is playing an ever-increasing role especially in the travel industry. After all, tourism highly depends on an intact environment and responsible travel concepts. It is also in the interest of the industry to maintain the social balance in the tourist destinations.
A total of 39 projects or companies from 21 countries competed for the EcoTrophea 2011. The competing projects are briefly presented on the DRV website at www.drv.de under the heading “Fachthemen”, “Fachbereich Nachhaltigkeit” and under the keyword “Umweltauszeichnung EcoTrophea, Bewerbungen 2011.”
The five nominees and this year’s winner project were selected by the EcoTrophea jury. Apart from the Chairman Andreas Müseler (Rewe Touristik), the following industry representatives sit on the jury: Professor Armin Brysch (Kempten University of Applied Sciences), Professor Dr. Roland Conrady (Worms University of Applied Sciences), Stephanie Henicke (Lufthansa City Center), Walter Krombach (Willy Scharnow Foundation) as well as Peter Strub (Studiosus Reisen).