'Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism in Kosovo' by UNDP and Ministry of Trade and Industry

02 February 2021

Tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors and is an important driver of economic growth and development. As the world is facing an unprecedented global health, social and economic emergency with the COVID-19 pandemic, travel and tourism is among the most affected sectors.

To discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector and how can we build back better by looking at existing challenges and opportunities, Programmes and Operations Manager of BGF, Rinora Gojani, took part in the event “Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism in Kosovo”, organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The opening remarks were given by Mr. Niels Knudsen, UNDP Kosovo Deputy Resident Representative and Ms. Gentiana Islamaj, Deputy General Secretary of Ministry of Trade and Industry who underlined the importance of accelerating green recovery in Kosovo through ecotourism and inclusive governance.

The event gave place to reflections from central and local level with Mr. Irfan Lipovica, Chair of the Working Group on Tourism Strategy Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Mr. Mytaher Haskuka, Mayor of Prizren. They concertedly gave emphasis to the adverse effects that the virus has had and highlighted that the survival of businesses throughout the tourism ecosystem needs strategizing. They asserted their readiness to take action to cushion the blow to tourism, to minimize job losses, and to build recovery and beyond.

Pointing to the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry, present were Mr. Baki Hoti, Tourism Union in Kosovo and Ms. Blerina Batusha-Xerxa, Swiss Contact. They marked that the pandemic has exposed structural shortcomings in the tourism system and the vulnerability to external shocks. There is an urgent need to diversify and strengthen the resilience of the tourism economy, and different opportunities and potentials need to be explored to set new standards within this economy to engender greater appeal and attraction of within the tourism sector.

In the event, Ms. Gojani gave interesting insights into possible recovery strategies, strongly emphasizing the need for a more resilient system that is firmly grounded on sustainable development. In supporting tourism MSMEs for COVID-19 green recovery and environmental sustainability, she underlined that “Rebuilding is a priority, but the sector must become more sustainable and resilient to avert the worst effects and facilitate recovery of the tourism standstill, inclusive of lessons learned as well as social and environmental factors.” She stated that regardless of the detrimental effects of the crises on this sector, it should act as an incentive to encourage the integration of the social as well as environmental factors into the endeavors of the private sector. 

She highlighted BGF’s work in this regard, where an entire program of the organization is attributed to entrepreneurship ideas with social and environmental characters. Projects not only advocate for these principles but act as supporting schemes, know-how and financially wise, with mentors and various experts help youngsters in the development of their ideas.

In the concluding remarks, the participants affirmed that the pandemic crisis was detrimental, but underlined the importance of coordinated action for sustainable recovery for the sector.