Article was written for the purpose of the UNWTO Global Report on Public-Private Partnerships in tourism development
Under the collaboration with Swisscontact and IME Programme, funded by SD
Mavrovo is a tourism destination in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where the National Park Authority and the municipalities of Mavrovo and Rostushe jointly control planning and development of a destination. Destination Mavrovo has high potential for further tourism development and extension of the season based on its natural, architectural, cultural and adventure travel resources. Each of the organizations involved had their own vision for economic development of the Mavrovo region and were unable to provide synchronized direct and indirect tourism services. An external organization with expertise in tourism (a University) acted as a consultant to develop a collaborative plan for tourism in Mavrovo. This led to a number of new collaborative arrangements among local organizations.
Building a stakeholder partnership
The Swiss government aid agency, Swisscontact, provided funding to improve employment in the Mavrovo region. As part of this project, a group of 20 local public and private representatives discussed how to organize the destination in a more collaborative way. The key to this collaboration was to focus on improving the experience of the existing and prospective visitors. The University researchers led a joint and creative process to identify strategic visitor ﬂows (SVF) in order to develop and improve the services according to visitors’ demands and expectations. These SVFs were built around groups of service providers in small working groups who identiﬁed ideas for product development for each SVF.The external consultant facilitated these groups, and provided follow up, steering and mentoring of stakeholders in the meetings. During successive meetings, several additional stakeholders were invited to participate and to provide input. The result was an organized and systemic approach to the preparation for the upcoming snow season. The private businesses, supported where necessary by the government organizations, developed various travel packages, entertainment content and one campaign for the entire season promoting facilities for the target market “families with children”
This project facilitated the process of public-private collaboration of the local stakeholders to adapt and improve the existing product in preparation of the upcoming winter season. It resulted in a number of collaborations: – Municipality with the Ski Centre: this collaboration involved a big music concert on the ski slopes. The municipality was the main ﬁnancial supporter while the Ski Centre provided discount ski passes to get to the concert and also accommodation for the band; – Municipality with private sector: the municipality provided incentives for an event company willing to invest in the destination; – Private Sector: for the ﬁrst time, hotels with Ski Centers allowed other hotels to sell a ﬁve-day ski pass using their ski facilities. A regular Ski Pass + Bus transport package was introduced for the ﬁrst time providing easy access from Skopje to Mavrovo; and – Private Sector – International NGO: Supported by a local video production company and two marketing agencies, these new services were advertised in a domestic TV and digital marketing campaign.
Collaboration between local organizations can be hard to organize. Sometimes an external organization, such as a University or a consultant, can help to bring different parties to the table. In the early phase of collaboration, it is important to focus on a customer viewpoint to tourism in the destination, improving existing product or services and coordinating the private sector’s efforts. After some initial successes, the collaborating group may move to product development and the further development of the destination. Collaboration is a process rather than an endpoint where building trust and the ability to work together is a ﬁrst step.