Sustainable Tourism Award celebrates much more than tourism for Balkan winners

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The WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award is a celebration of peace and transformation for 5.4 million people of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

The Peaks of the Balkans Trail (www.peaksofthebalkans.com) has just been announced (the winner )/ ( a runner up ) for outstanding Destination Stewardship in this year's prestigious WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

The ambitious Peaks of the Balkans Trail is 192 kilometres of safe and breathtaking passage through the three countries of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.

Says Mr Virtyt Morina, the Project Steering Group coordinating member sponsor and Head of Tourism in Peja Municipality, Kosovo: "Through a positive attitude, cooperation and sheer hard work, we are all together so happy to offer some of the least known and the most beautiful parts our three countries.

"And crossing three country borders, the Trail is a giant gesture of how sustainable tourism works in a very real way. 

"The Trail opens up the world’s newest hiking experience crossing three country-protected National Parks.  

"We offer tourists the opportunity to experience rugged beauty, through different environments from gentle grasslands to challenging mountain climbing to the sheer gorgeousness of glacial lakes, and authentic old villages.

"The project has given our local people a whole new range of opportunities to earn money, develop their skills, have pride in sharing their special cultural practices with those visitors who want active holidays where we can guarantee utterly local experiences.

"We are still learning and getting our tourism right. Creating sustainable practice is an ongoing journey for all of us in our three countries. 

"But one thing we know for sure is that working as a team, celebrating out part of the world, whilst protecting and sharing our culture and beautiful nature is a major commitment for us all," said Virtyt Morina. 

Project Steering Group member Merita Kazazi from Shkodra Council, Albania says: The best thing about the Project is that Peaks of the Balkans Trail shows the cooperation in crossing borders, to create peace and welfare even beyond the politics.

Also attending the ceremony Project Steering Group member Enis Ljuljanovic of Montenegro´s Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism said, ‘that although it was a challenge sometimes during the Project to hold on to our local culture and spirit and protect our nature, comprehensive planning and a strong regulatory regime helped to support development that is both financially viable and environmentally supportive.

Virtyt Morina thanked all stakeholders and supporters, especially the German aid organisation GIZ, and WTTC, for helping to make what he described as "a dream of transformation" becoming a reality.

The winners out of the 12 Finalists in the 2013 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have just been announced tonight at the WTTC’s Global Summit, being held in Abu Dhabi, UAE April 9-10.