Preparatory meetings for cross-border packages have been scheduled in December this year, while the first meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday this week (13 and 14 December) in Elbasan, a two-day meeting to prepare a framework for joint travel packages.

At this meeting, there will be about 10 participants, and external participants from Albania will be: businesses, academics, NGOs, local and regional authorities, as well as project staff on both sides of the border.

The agenda of the meeting is to create a framework for creating these tourist packages.

As a basis, the products and services offered by the members of STEP will also be taken into consideration, so we invite all members who have additional products or services from those already presented, to submit to the project staff.

Also, in the initial meetings, periodic tourism related events in both regions will be presented in order to prepare the bids based on these events.

The network of STEP partners, together with network members, through these three joint meetings (envisaged in Elbasan from 13 to 14 December, one in Tetovo from December 20 to December 21 and one in Mavrovo in early January next year) and two workshops in Belch and Popova Shapka at the beginning of next year) will develop different types of cross-border packages and packages that “pack” a large number of services together to make a unique experience. It is worth mentioning that in the two workshops in Belsh and Popova Shapka, which will be at the beginning of next year, about 25 tourist entities from the regions Polog and Elbasan (50 in total) will participate in practically creating packages, which will later be shown on the iTop Digital Platform. The most active members will have the advantage of participating in these workshops. Packages will combine things like transportation, accommodation and food and will always include locations and attractions on both sides of the border between Macedonia and Albania. The packages will be regional, cross-border and will follow a predetermined route and visit areas of interest to certain places, whether they are historical, religious or cultural. STEP will encourage the creation of the following initial packet types, which will be enriched and approved by all members of the STEP network: 

• A special interest, they will be designed around a particular area of interest that can include art, food and wine, sport, culture or agriculture. A tour of special interest may include a guide to experts or celebrities related to the theme of the tournament (for example, an art expert accompanying an art tour).

• Adventure, this type of tours will be designed to allow visitors to participate in their own zone of interest, length of the tour and experiences based. They are usually physical and require a certain level of physical preparedness, but they can sometimes be modified to meet the needs of visitors depending on the passenger profile. Some examples of this type of tour include rock climbing or hiking, hiking, skiing or cycling.

• Full-accompanying tours, they are often a good choice for lonely travelers or small groups. This type of tours offers a sense of security or overcoming language and cultural barriers. Also, these types of tours often involve an educational aspect, since companionship provides local, historical and cultural knowledge, knowledge and provides tourists with valuable experience and relevance to the places visited.

To be successful, we need active participation of tourists who are members of STEP, and we call for more intensive cooperation in this period.