Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovenia

How the first tourism destinations and businesses in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia are greening the Balkans

Four sustainable tourism events in Trebinje, Tivat, Vevcani and Belsh, were organized from 30 March to 6 April by the five Balkan Green partners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Slovenia.  The Roadshow raised awareness among destinations, businesses, and stakeholders on sustainable tourism topics, including: the Why, the How, and the Who on sustainability in tourism – Why should destinations and businesses get involved, highlighting regional good practice initiatives, lessons learned, post-pandemic travel trends, and more.

Over all 125+ participants from destinations, SMEs, and individual service providers attended the Roadshow over the course of four days.

The Roadshow and other Balkan Green activities are supported by the USAID Economic Development, Governance and Enterprise Growth Project (EDGE).




Trebinje, BiH

The first day of the BG Roadshow was dedicated to sustainability and what it means in tourism. For the first time public institutions, businesses, and policy makers had an opportunity to discuss and take initial steps toward a joint strategy for a sustainable future of BiH tourism.

The participants were welcomed and inspired by Mr. Albert Salman, founder and President of Green Destinations, who provided a framework for advancing sustainability in tourism in the region.  Trebinje, as the first BiH destination to receive the Green Destinations recognition, shared experience and lessons learned with the  audience.

During the day, five new destinations (Bosanska Krupa, Konjic, Kozara National Park, Skakavac Nature Monument, and Samac) signed up in the Green Destinations Top 100 Good Practice Story Competition 2023, while Trebinje signed up to pursuing the Green Destinations Award & Certification program.

A separate session was dedicated to the Good Travel Program, and Balkan Green partners Green Visions discussed the opportunities for businesses and provided in depth information about the processes and requirements, as well as benefits of the Good Travel Program certification.

At the end of a full day participants were treated to a networking event at Herzeg House, a cooperative promoting and selling goods from over 120 local companies and producers. Herzeg House is a 2021 Top 100 Story Award winner.


Tivat, MNE

Tivat, Montenegro, a destination that received the Green Destinations Bronze award in 2022 for its sustainable development and monitoring efforts, started in 2020. Discussions focused on the municipality’s support programs for rural revitalization and how to make successful use of them – in the afternoon the group got insights into practical examples and challenges in the village of Gornja Lastva. Danica Banjevic, the Director of the Tivat Tourism Organisation, shared some interesting key figures, showing a stronger pre- and post-seasonal flow of visitors and overnight stays. The group also learned about balancing nature protection with responsible tourism promotion and management in the Special Nature Reserve Tivatska Solila, the 2020 winner of Top 100 Good Practice Stories in the category of Nature and Ecotourism.


Vevcani, NMK

Vevcani, Macedonia’s smallest municipality, and first participant in the Green Destinations Top 100 Story awards, appropriately hosted the Balkan Green roadshow in North Macedonia.  In addition to the municipality of Vevcani, four businesses also began their journey towards sustainable development through Green Destinations’ Good Travel Program.

Welcomed by the mayor of Vevcani, we began our event by introducing Balkan Green and Green Destinations, bringing the programs closer to the participants, and talking about Vevcani’s journey and progress. We had the pleasure to be greeted and inspired by Albert Salman, Green Destinations founder and president. During our break we enjoyed some delicious traditional food prepared by local producers. This was followed by an interactive panel discussion on the Why, Who, and How and the realities in sustainable tourism with Jasminka Varnalieva from USAID-EDGE, Jana Apih from Good Place, Slovenia, Natalija Angelova from MES (Macedonian Ecological Society), and Thierry Jourbert from Green Visions, Bosnia & Herzegovina,  moderated by Aleksandar Donev from Mustseedonia, which contributed to a lively discussion by participants from the private sector, destinations, donors, and Balkan Green partners.


Belsh, AL

This last stop on the Roadshow was marked by high level participation from Jasminka Varnalieva, Chief of Party  of USAID EDGE Project, the Roadshow’s main financial supporter, and Green Destinations founder and president Albert Salman.

Participants were exposed to the central topic of branding and marketing sustainability in the area of tourism. Jana Apih of Good Place, the organization instrumental for creating and supporting  “Slovenia Green” presented  some of the best practices and lessons learned of Slovenia’s successful national sustainability program.

The afternoon sessions focused on public-private partnerships in tourism development, with a lively panel discussion between Elvis Kotherja from Elite Travel, Mirtjon Meta from RisiAlbania, Fetah Elezi, from the Inst. of Plant Genetic Resources, Agricultural University, Tirana, Kastriot Beshiri and Dritan Kamani.

A visit to the local Eco Park ( ended the day.



  1. Green networking events with practical information, exchange, and applied experiences are crucial for getting more destinations, businesses, protected areas and travelers involved and excited in sustainable tourism practices and services. When done right, a combination of events and communication platforms have enormous cross-sector potential to contribute to sustainable growth, diversification, poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation, and natural resources management.
  2. Protected areas play an important role in a destination’s sustainability process. Putting protection of the environment at the center of any destination, especially when ratified by law, puts the destination at an advantage to engage outlying communities and government services in the long term management of the destination. A protected area, when managed well, protects the environment, attracts, informs and manages visitors, as well as stimulates the creation of services in the surrounding communities around the destination.
  3. Public Private Partnerships are the key to a long term sustainable tourism strategy in a destination, by engaging and supporting local businesses.  Governments can participate in and plan the sustainable development of the tourism industry in the destination. While all along the way assisting businesses to become more competitive and successful without depleting the natural and cultural resources our countries depend on.
  4. Green Teams and their Sustainability Coordinators need clear job descriptions and commitment from their destinations, i.e. municipal governments, park boards, development organizations and destination management organizations. By investing in their Green Team, destinations can work towards long term sustainable development goals requiring significant commitment and resources, i.e. human, financial, and social.
  5. Sustainable tourism certification for SMEs is a cornerstone for developing sustainable destinations and regional products. The more the business sector is involved in making their services and business management practices sustainable, the more the destination is required to coordinate the activities of a wide range of stakeholders, ie. municipal services including planning, waste management, energy & water, labor, environmental protection, etc.


End of story