EU-funded tourism projects seen as growth engine for Croatia’s less developed areas
Workshop in Otočac gathers stakeholders to brainstorm project ideas
Otočac, March 7, 2014 – The potential for tourism to serve as engine for employment and growth in Croatia’s less developed areas was at the heart of discussions that took place today during a workshop held to stimulate interest in the use of European Union (EU) funds in Lika-Senj, Karlovac and Sisak-Moslavina Counties. More than sixty participants from public administration, civil society, and the private sector gathered at the Gacko Public Open University in Otočac to brainstorm on how best to use EU funds to promote tourism. The workshop was organized jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, and is part of a larger project intended to improve socio-economic prospects in Karlovac, Lika-Senj, and Sisak-Moslavina County.
This was the first in a series of sectoral project workshops that UNDP is organizing together with the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds as a part of a broader project “Preparing the ground for EU funds: Creating a pipeline of project ideas for Croatia's less developed areas“ (known colloquially as “project hunters”). Initial informational workshops will be followed by project workshops designed to engage citizens in generating, refining and prioritizing project ideas for funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds.
The UNDP team has already collected a large number of project ideas, and a large share of these focus on the development of tourism infrastructure and new tourism products. Successful projects will require good collaboration between the public and private sectors, so the workshops are aimed at engaging all potential stakeholders. Participants in the Otočac workshop agreed on enormous potential for the development of new tourist attractions, the touristic interpretation of Croatian heritage, and the creation of new tourism products. Projects in these areas were seen as a way to contribute to the revival of local traditions, bolster the local economy, and foster more sustainable development initiatives.
In the first phase of the project, three informational workshops were held in Sisak, Gospić, and Karlovac, and gathered several hundred representatives from the public, private and civil sectors who expressed interest in developing their areas with the use of EU funds. Other sectoral workshops will be held in March in order to categorize collected project ideas into appropriate packages that could complement each other to stimulate growth and employment in less-developed areas. In addition to generating a catalogue of at least 51 potential projects, the aim of the project is to build the capacity of local stakeholders to design and formulate credible project ideas for EU funds without outside help.