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There is a phenomenon going on in the village hostels in Gostivar: guests often stay longer than the planned date. It seemed incredible, so we decided to check ourselves.

It’s Friday, for some start of the weekend, and for some others start of the busiest period of the week. We are going to the “Tivko Katche” (Quiet Corner) restaurant, whose tradition dates back over half a century. After we passed the Vardar river, on the left side of the street, on the right bank of the river, we saw the firm “Tivko Katche”… Ten meters down the street, there is a house with all the characteristics of the traditional houses from this region.

Although the upper floors are being renovated, the ground floor is already a restaurant decorated with various traditional relics unique to Gostivar. Here is the original costume of grandmother of Biljana, who runs the business, inherited from her father, from whom she learned the cookery skills typical for this region. Traditional dishes that are served in the “Tivko Katche” do not leave indifferent any admirers of good food, causing problems to those who want to try everything.

Biljana was not alone. There were several of her friends, all of them, in a way connected with the catering and tourism sector.

Goce and Zhaklina Mateski are professional beekeepers from the village of Zubovce, who in the future plan to actively participate in the promotion of tourism through the package for practical and active promotion of the process of bee breeding for all interested people. They are ready in the future to accommodate guest rooms for overnight stay.

At the other end of the table, Viktor Lazarevski tells about vicissitudes with his “Vertikal Hostel” in the Mavrovo village of Nikiforovo. With a capacity for 22 people, and offering a place for camping, he says that in his accommodation, since 2015, no guest that booked one night did not go the next day, but extended their visit for at least a day.

– This is due to the new friendships that are developed in the hostel, often even in the large rooms there are up to eight guests, who did not know each other earlier – tells Viktor.

Vladimir Gjorgjioski was also part of the group of friends of Biljana, who leads the mountain hut “Carevec” in Mavrovo. Beginning from scratch, Vladimir, like Victor, left the city to live in the countryside and offer alternative tourism for those who are tired of the sea. He and his girlfriend attend a course for international guide for mountain tourism, in order to learn how to offer a more professional customer service.

Biljana joked that she often bothered the two comrades in the hostels during the high season. But they answer promptly that it is in their favor, because the type of tourists who go to them, like these gatherings.

In the end, we are joined by the owners of Ski Hut, Dimitar and Kosima, who left Germany for the beauties of Mavrovo. They are already fully involved in using IT technology to attract tourists. However, one of their main problems is how to entertain tourists, so that their stay is prolonged from the current average of two days, to several days.

Therefore, they were intrigued and interested in the idea of creating joint products of the members of the network within the The Smart Tourism Enhancement Project – STEP, funded by the European Union, and implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society, in cooperation with the Centre for Development of Polog Planning Region and the Council of the Elbasan County.

Overall objective of the project is to promote a vibrant touristic sector that effectively adapts to the needs of both domestic and international markets and contributes to accelerate growth and stimulate job creation in the cross-border tourism zone between Macedonia and Albania, in the area of Gostivar and Elbasan.

Municipality of Gostivar will provide information, expertise and experience, as well as will encourage small and medium enterprises and all interested parties to actively contribute for achievement of the project objectives.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Cross-Border Cooperation Program (IPA 2).