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17 a lucky number of destinations of the Local Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Project

48 promotional groups from Hrodna and Brest Oblasts in Belarus have participated in the contest of tourist destinations of USAID project, implemented by the UNDP under the auspice of the Ministry of Sports and Tourism. Most applications were of creative nature and were endorsed by convincing motivation letters and documents, expressing the willingness in developing public-private partnerships.

With all applications evaluated, the finals were hold for 23 applicants and 16 winners were nominated. They were offered to join their efforts and expand destination territory through incorporating seven remaining participants of the contest. Striving for cooperation within project framework, most of the winners agreed to collaborate with those who had failed in the finals. Thus, 16 project tourist destinations were determined but the work on establishing contacts and expanding opportunities for collaboration has not terminated.

With due consideration of finals’ results, the contest committee has paid attention to three applicants of destinations applicants destinations, closely located to one another in the northern part of the Hrodna Oblast and which have only slightly legged behind from the finalists as of the results of applications’ evaluation. The committee recommended the project to hold a working meeting with the applicants of the following destinations: “Vilia-River and its waterfront”, “Along the roads of the Ashmiany highlands” and “Taking Count Tyszkiewicz’s lead”. The meeting has resulted in passing a decision on joining the efforts through establishing a single tourist destination under the name “Hrodna Oblast northern vector” and covering the Ashmiany, Astraviec and Smarhon districts.

That union was inter alia based on the following major prerequisites:

1. Homogeneity of the region covered by the three applications;
2. Willingness of three destinations’ promotional groups for collaboration in formulating and subsequent implementing of their strategy; and
3. Existing high tourist capacity of the region and organizational beginning for cluster set up.

Local Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Project activities have been focused on broader coverage of the stakeholders interested in ecotourism promotion. Therefore, setting up the seventeenth destination through joining the efforts of three promotional groups from neighbouring regions was in full conformity with project objectives. Free will of the applicants, which have agreed putting their efforts together in order to set up and promote bigger destinations, has resulted in support of 25 project initiatives, i.e. over 50% of all applications for the contest.

Over 500 people have been proactively developing strategies of ecotourism expansion within promotional groups and partners of seventeen destinations of USAID/UNDP Project. Successful development and passing of strategy documents will help the project with launching a contest of local initiatives (30 grants, 15,000 USD each), implementation of which will be pegged to the areas of destinations’ strategic development.

Additional information may be obtained from Ms. Maryna Barouka, Project Manager. Phone: +375 17 289-18-77.

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