Kosovo is one of the youngest and least visited countries in Europe. From the criteria of travel costs or value for money, Kosovo can offer an excellent deal, in particular for food & beverage costs. Prishtina is referred to be one of the liveliest towns in southeast Europe when it comes to hip cafés, outdoor bars,live music and clubs. Regular flights connect Prishtina to major hub airports of Europe and Turkey. Mountain ranges such as the Albanian Alps in the west of Kosovo, allow similar tourist experiences as in the Alps, in much less overcrowded unspoilt nature areas, off the beaten track.
“Western Kosovo or Pejë region is home to the Alpet Shqiptare or the Albanian Alps range. Pejë as the biggest city is positioned at the entrance of the Rugova Gorge. The karts mountain range with Mount Gjeravica, 2,656m the highest mountain of Kosovo, provides an ideal area to develop nature and adventure tourism products for both, summer and winter tourism. Since 2002, local mountain enthusiast groups started to explore outdoor and adventure activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, rock climbing and caving, in particular in the Rugova Valley area.
With donor and NGO support from different agencies tourism infrastructure such as hiking trails, trekking trails, rock climbing routes, via ferrata and mountain bike routes have been developed and promoted over the last five years and rural families in strategic locations were encouraged and supported to become home stay tourism service providers. Initial visitor information tools and services have been established and a reasonable number of printed promotional tools such as brochures and fliers are available. The big majority of the tourism products are summer mountain activities. In addition a number of hotels, guesthouses, home stay/bed and breakfast, mountain hut, camp sites, and restaurants in locations that can be reached by car cater for less adventurous summer visitors. A short ski lift in the village of Bogë caters for snow board and ski enthusiasts.
In December 2012 the new National Park “Alpet Shqiptare” was formerly established. The park covers 62.488 ha and lies in the territory of the municipalities of Gjakovë, Junik, Deçan, Pejë and Istog. Spatial planning and the establishment of a national park management plan are underway. Large parts of the new National Park, in particular to the south of the Rugova valley, await the development of nature tourism products and basic infrastructure. Summer tourism is blooming in the Rugova Valley and lasts for six months (May – October) with a clear high season peak in July and August. The winter (snow) season lasts four months (December – March) but fails to attract tangible visitor numbers, mainly due to the lack of winter tourism attractions and activities but also due to the lack of proper infrastructure maintenance.
The emerging western Kosovo destination bears the potential to attract more visitors from all visitor segments. A wider range of tourism products, better facilities and services combined with effective destination promotion and marketing have the potential to increase visitor numbers and visitor expenditures. Large parts of the nature and mountain tourism potential have not yet been developed; in particular Deçan municipality falls behind its neighbours of Pejë in the north and Junik in the south.
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