Tourism is one of the world's fastest-growing industries throughout the world. There were 850,000 tourists in Macedonia in 2016, 5% more than previous year. This makes tourism an important sector for Macedonia, with potential to impact the development of the economy and to generate jobs and income. Switzerland has consistently supported the development of the tourism sector by using Swiss expertise and experience, and supporting the promotion of the Macedonian touristic offer abroad.
Based on a Swiss approach, stakeholders from Ohrid, Mavrovo, and Krushevo jointly planned the offer of the destinations and shifted from a product oriented to a client oriented offer. In the Bregalnica region, special attention is paid to developing environment-friendly tourism. Following the development of a tourism development strategy based on the potential of the region, several attractions were made more accessible and attractive to the tourists, with Swiss support.
To improve the hospitality service standards in the tourism industry in Macedonia, the renowned Swiss Hotel Management Academy Lucerne conducted trainings for future leaders in the tourism and hospitality sector. Organizing trainings for guides, agencies, tour operators and tourism service providers to apply Swiss standards in tourism and adapt them to the local context, Switzerland is helping local stakeholders to improve their service delivery and touristic offering and attract more tourists from regional and international markets.
Through networking, market intelligence, B2B and matchmaking, Switzerland brought domestic suppliers closer to the international buyers. One of the highlights among these events was the organization of the Adventure Next Balkans Conference in Ohrid in 2016. This resulted in worldwide promotion of Macedonia as an attractive adventure destination. Since then, several adventure tours were organized and many more are being negotiated.
Switzerland received recognition by the Ministry of Economy for its efforts for tourism development in Macedonia in the frame of the Increasing Market Employability programme, awarded on 27 September, when the World Tourism Day is marked. Switzerland’s support will continue in the years to come, with the aim to further develop this sector to grow and create more jobs, while also ensuring nature conservation.