Festivals – ways to develop and recognize rural regions’ international conference and haymaking on Mt. Rajac 2011
–‘The critical mass gathered here today confirms that rural tourism development in Serbia is on the right path and that we have all reason to be optimistic’, said Karlo Puskarica, the manager of the UN joint programme ‘Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development (STRD)’ at the conference ‘Festivals – ways to develop and recognize rural regions’, held in Ljig on 15th July 2011.
The conference gathered international and national key actors to discuss the importance of traditional festivals, local products as well as old trades in rural tourism development. ‘The conference provides an excellent opportunity to exchange best practice and new solutions for improvement of rural tourism development in Serbia as well as in the region’, said Dragan Stefanovic, the Rural Development Officer with the UN JP STRD at the opening of the conference.
One of the themes discussed at the conference was the NGO Moba’s project ‘The Fruits of the Serbian ‘Magaza’ (store), which – in 2010 – was one of the 6 STRD-projects that altogether received USD 160 000 to diversify the rural economy in Serbia. The ‘Serbian Magaza’ aims to integrate the supply of agricultural and non-agricultural products and services in 4 rural regions in Serbia to improve the supply in rural tourism. The combined offer will be presented in a showroom and sales facility of the traditional architectural style on the Ibar highway and the web portals so that potential buyers will be able to buy or to obtain information on how to get the product or service they are interested, and in one place learn about the different regions and their offers.
Participants in the conference including representatives of the Standing Working Group for Regional Rural Development in South Eastern Europe, local tourism organizations’ directors as well as representatives from the private sector commended the organization Moba on their efforts to present a good practice in rural tourism development. Mr. Mile Gosnjic, the head of the management committee of the NGO ‘Moba’ thanked the STRD programme for supporting the organization of the conference and stressed that it was organized to contribute to the annual traditional festival ‘Haymaking on Mt.Rajac’, which is a recognized folk event that started in 1892 and symbolically represents and celebrates haymaking in mountainous meadows.
This year, the traditional festival ‘Haymaking on Mt.Rajac’ attracted over 20,000 domestic and international visitors and saw local and foreign participants compete in haymaking. The competition was enriched with songs and dances. The project of the association of citizens "Village tourism in Serbia", which was another 2010 STRD-funded project also participated in the event by distributing wireless internets sticks and thereby improving the village tourism competitiveness in Serbia. The members of the NGO ‘Moba’ – with the assistance of the women’s association ‘Golden Hands’ (Zlatne ruke) – organized the serving of traditional dishes on embroidered white tablecloths on the meadows of the Rajac mountain, which the visitors, conference participants and international guests could enjoy.
In her address to the media during the haymaking festival, Dr. Suzana Djordjevic-Milosevic, Rural Development Programme Officer with the STRD UN joint programme concluded that the festivals such as ‘Haymaking on Mt.Rajac’ are highly important, not only for the economic development of rural Serbia but also for enhanced community cohesion not only at the local but also at the national level.
About the Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development Joint Programme
The UN Joint Programme Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development works towards the diversification of the rural economy through sustainable tourism to improve the quality of life, reduce poverty, and address environmental degradation in rural Serbia. One of the key activities of the programme is the development of the National Rural Tourism Master Plan. Activities of the Programme are implemented in South Banat on the Danube, East Serbia, Central Serbia and Lower Danube.
Five UN agencies, including UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) in cooperation with a number of Government of the Republic of Serbia national partners, namely the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, and the National Tourism Organization of Serbia are implementing the Joint Programme.
The Spanish Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) is providing 4 million USD for the implementation of the Joint Programme.
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