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Within the Smart Tourism Enhancement Project (STEP), the first constitutive meetings of the STEP network on broadening and enhancing the strategic and coordinated access to specific new and strategic markets for export of tourism and touristic businesses (especially small and medium enterprises – SMEs and new enterprises) as well as strengthening of the foundations, general surrounding and required elements for strategic achievement and utilization of new international markets in the tourism industry and bettered communication and cooperation so coordinated development of joint cross-border entrepreneurial activities can be achieved were held on 14 and 15 May in Tetovo and Elbasan.

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Attendees, and at the same time end users, were small and medium enterprises, government agencies at central and local level, tourism groups, chambers of commerce, starters and citizens as potential entrepreneurs in the field of tourism as well as nongovernmental organizations and media.

The activities that will contribute to achieving the project results were reviewed at the meeting:

  • Increased capacity of tourism business to strategically use ICT for increased market outreach through training and mentorship support platform;
  • Increased tourism demand in the region through increased online content and activity;
  • Increased interconnection between tourism and culture in the cross-border region by creating STEP network of informed and empowered tourism public and private entities, CSOs, tourism clusters and/or chambers of commerce;
  • – Increased capacity of tourism businesses and individual entrepreneurs for internationalization, connection and partnership with international stakeholders;
  • Created inter-regional tourism online platform (iTOP);
  • Created credible STEP brand that provides added value to small and medium enterprises in the cross-border region through contributing to identity, thus creating trust and respect and raising the expectations for quality and integrity;

Though every beginning is difficult, all participants promised to be an active part of the network and contribute toward achieving mutual objectives. In addition, during the second meeting during which the network will be formalized, they will be more specific regarding the defining of problems and delivering of solutions.

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Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that during this meeting the attendees shared the positive experiences of some new companies and businesses, which will serve as an incentive for all other potential members to act jointly in the future.

After the information from the two-day meeting has been summarized, the second constitutive meeting of the network for the two regions will be set.

The STEP project is funded by the European Union’s Cross-Border Cooperation Programme and is implemented by Metamorphosis Foundation with the partners Centre for Development of Polog Planning Region and Council of the Elbasan County.