The Sleeping Beauty Awakens

Promoting Private Sector Employment in Western Kosovo Tourism

The Promoting Private Sector Employment (PPSE) Project in Kosovo assists small and medium size businesses (SMEs) to operate in competitive and well-organised economic sectors, where public policies better match private sector needs. The project is focused on the food processing sector and promoting sustainable tourism and provides increased sustainable employment for women and men.

Tourism activities are mainly focused in Western Kosovo. The region offers many attractions for outdoor and adventure activities, but it is not on the worldwide tourism map. A vision for change was needed to make this region a competitive fully-fledged tourism destination.

This vision included:

  • Establishing new products and activities
  • Improving the infrastructure
  • Promoting selected destinations
  • Building local management capacities

The Making of a Tourist Attraction

Through their Opportunity Fund, the PPSE is funding the enhancement of selected tourism attractions. In the region of Pejë/Peć, it has co-financed the restoration of the Cave of Radavc (also called ‘The Sleeping Beauty’) in 2016.

Using its approach of inclusive markets, the PPSE Project fostered collaboration between municipal authorities in Pejë/Peć and the tourism private sector, to initiate a substantial shift towards long-term changes. The opening of the Radavc Cave enriched the tourism offer, which includes a ZIP line, a Via Ferrata, the Adventure Park, as well as the promotion of outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, snowshoeing or night skiing.

A Cave Accessible for All

With Swisscontact’s support, after eight months of work, the cave has been opened to the public. To ensure easy passage, metal bridges have been installed, and as the cave is home to four different species of bats, special lights were installed that do not interfere with their natural habitat, thus protecting the ecosystem.

Visitors can pass through three galleries. The entrance is a narrow tunnel with a low ceiling. The central part - ‘The Bats Gallery’ - has rock formations that make dazzling colorful patterns. The third gallery – ‘The Basin Gallery’ - is by far the most beautiful part, with several basins created over time by the dripping water, hence the name. The temperature inside the cave is a constant 8 - 12°C, regardless of the season outside.

Official opening with Sigrid Mejier (Country Director Kosovo), Samuel Bon (CEO Swisscontact) and Gazmend Muhaxheri (Mayor of Pejë/Peć)

Sustainable Tourism Revived

The cave is operated by ‘Outdoor Kosovo’, an adventure company specialising in rock climbing, caving, skiing, camping, hiking and mountain biking. One of the founders of Outdoor Kosovo is Mentor Bojku. He also works for the police forces of Kosovo, where he is a crime scene investigator. He believes that “a safe country guarantees sustainable tourism”.

Outdoor Kosovo kicked off as an NGO of outdoor lovers. After starting the collaboration with PPSE, with the project’s encouragement, the NGO was transformed into a registered business. “The continuous support from PPSE has been the biggest driver of our success in accomplishing our projects and ideas. Thanks to this support, we introduced numerous new products to the market and participated in several international fairs,” says Mentor Bojku. Other activities include networking with tourism sector players, training, the funding for opening the Radavc Cave, product development programmes, mountain tour guide training and many more. The impact of the combined efforts has resulted in active outdoor tourism in Western Kosovo.

Because of the work by the local municipality, the private sector and Swisscontact, Western Kosovo is gaining more prominence in the maps of tourists. It offers opportunities for adventure-seeking tourists, for those looking to enjoy a few days in one of the traditional bed-and-breakfasts studding the villages, or those thrilled by culture and history. Such investment in the tourism sector has created jobs and market opportunities – both tools for sustainable economic growth.

Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sustainable tourism
Promoting Private Sector Employment
Kosovo has grown moderately at an average rate of 4% in the last few years (pre-COVID 19) and is constantly facing growing labour force, while the labour market falls short of generating the jobs needed to absorb the new entrants (around 30,000 annually). Formal employment makes around 75% of the overall employment, with public sector accounting for 25% of formal jobs. Youth, women, and minorities (particularly the Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian) remain the most excluded groups. The COVID-19 pandemic did not spare Kosovo’s economy from its devastating impact.