Futorismo awards 7 best ideas from the region to help Western Balkans tourism sector to mitigate COVID-19 effects
Bregu: Futourismo is a new hope to help our region recover its tourism
In 2019 more than 12 million people visited Western Balkans, which brought region a profit of 7.2 billion euros. Tourism made 10.2% of the region’s GDP and accounted for more than 25% of exports and on average 11.4% of the total employees in the Western Balkans was from this sector, 55% of whom were women.
Tirana/Sarajevo – Seven teams from the Western Balkans:
• Guidi for app Veni, Vidi, Guidi
• BIB for 'Be in Balkan' Mobile Application,
• Digital Clinic for e-Health Tourism
• TED for Safe Traveling Western Balkans
• Sanatec7 for 'Virtual Culture'
• Meanderbug for 'Meanderbug App' and
• Balkan Specialist for 'WB6 Balkan Daily Tours'
from all six Western Balkan economies were awarded for their best innovative digital solution that will help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the heavily affected sector of tourism in the Western Balkans, at the first regional FUTOURISMO competition held online today.
“I congratulate the winners but also all the participants of Futourismo. The pandemic spread through the world like fire on a hot summer night, and took lives, jobs, plans – froze everything. And the tourism sector in our region paid the high toll. Western Balkan is the most affected region in Europe in terms of foreign arrivals. Most of the bookings were cancelled, which jeopardised normal operations of many agencies. The difficulties were reflected in cutting off staff numbers and business model changes, as the 2020 turnover was at the level of 35%. In the first half of 2020 there was 75% decrease in international visitors compared to 2019. This is why we started 2021 with Futourismo, as a new hope to help our region recover its tourism. I hope these awarded projects will be the right step in that direction,” said Majlinda Bregu, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), at the Futourismo Awards Ceremony held today.
Due to the tight race over high quality of all shortlisted digital solutions, the jury had a tough job to select only six best and decided to award seven winning projects, chosen among 84 applications. The winning teams will be awarded EUR 15,000 each for further development of their digital ideas. There would also be an open call to further regional tourism cooperation to all those Fotourismo shortlisted applicants who did not make it in the top 7. They have been asked to work together to develop a new, innovative idea including as many Western Balkan economies as possible to qualify for RCC Tourism project support.
“RCC will continue creating a network of professionals in the region. The competiveness of WB6 tourism is strongly linked with sustainability and that will continue to be encouraged through our Common Regional Market. FUTOURISMO can grow in the future and challenge young professionals to invest their energy and creativity in generating digital solutions that can help the tourism industry to grow. Seeing so much talent in Western Balkans youth and digital skills and ideas expressed during the Fotourismo, we can rest assured that the future of region’s tourism is in great hands,” added Bregu.
More info about the winning projects https://www.rcc.int/futourismo
Colin Wolfe, Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission expressed his support to the competition and RCC organising such an event. “I am very glad you are addressing a very important aspect of recovering and supporting young people and the digital potential region has. Let this be a blueprint of our way forward.”
Fotourismo competition started on 3 February 2021, with an open call to all including start-ups, digital innovation hubs, scientific parks, universities, SMEs and teams of young people. The selected 17 shortlisted projects, 2 from Albania, 4 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 6 from Montenegro, 1 from Kosovo*, 2 from North Macedonia and 2 from Serbia, had a chance to present their ideas to the members of jury who have selected the 7 best ideas.
The Futurism competition has been organised by the RCC’s EU-funded Triple P Tourism project aiming to seek digital solutions that will have a positive effect in terms of keeping jobs, maintaining operations and promoting the region as a tourism destination.
Entire final FUTOURISMO event was streamed live on the RCC’s and RCC’s Tourism project Facebook Page.
Full event can be find here.