Seminar: Tourism Association in Rural Areas: Capacity building and networking

On 17-18 February 2020, With the support of the European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD), the project “Promoting Citizen Engagement for Economic Development (PROCEED)” held Seminar in Dedoplistskaro municipality.

The title of the seminar was “Tourism Associations in rural areas: Capacity Building and Networking”.

The Seminar was attended by members of the Dedoplistskaro Tourism Development Association and the representatives of tourism businesses funded by PROCEED.

The seminar was led by Ms. Raili Mengel, Chairwoman of the Estonian Rural Tourism Association.

At the beginning of the seminar, Ms. Mengel provided information on the aims, activities, structure, and members of the Estonian Rural Tourism Association. She noted that this organization is 20 years old and has more than 300 members from the representatives of rural tourism throughout Estonia. The Association represents the interests of its members with government and private structures, works on cultural tourism and craft development, prepares entrepreneurs and instructors, organizes entrepreneurship qualification courses and participates in exchange programs. It is a non-governmental organization that in close cooperation with government agencies establishes standards of service in a rural tourism business, grants certificates to individual tourism products or businesses and more.

Participant groups expressed their expectations of the Dedoplistskaro Tourism Development Association. It was found out that members need the support of the Association in providing information to government agencies, training and retraining people involved in tourism services, finding tour operators, organizing info tours, creating new tour routes, organizing festivals, organizing banners, exchanges in neighboring areas and Estonia, including establish a cooperation group with the municipality, conduct municipal branding activities and more.

On both days of the seminar, Ms. Mengel provided the participants with many interesting models from Estonian rural tourism experiences that could be used in Georgia as well. She underlined the necessity of internal and external networking to succeed, cooperation with the National Tourism Administration, local self-government institutions and authorities, other tourism organizations, businesses, media, social networking and more.

The workshop participants worked on the issue of the uniqueness of Dedoplistskaro municipality resources. It was named local biodiversity, municipal and ethnic diversity, IV-V century monuments, ancient archaeological excavations and more.

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