Project Factsheet
Tools for » Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development
Project ID:00067263Description:MDGF-2068-D-SRB Private Sector
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Mar 2009
MDGF Private Sector Devt
End Date*: 4 Dec 2012
Country: Serbia Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


Sustainable rural tourism is one of the key sectors with strong potential for diversifying Serbia’s rural economy. Roughly 75% of the rural population is engaged in subsistence agricultural production. The programme is aligned with the UNDAF.

The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MFE) and the National Tourist Organization of Serbia (NTO) have taken full ownership of the tourism component of the Project. The key achievements are the development of a National rural Tourism Master Plan along with the development of a National Rural Development Programme, supported by guidance for public investments.  At the local level the JP supported local rural tourism and industries to be better linked and organized through both capacity development and in some cases grant funding in four target regions. The tools used included tourism destination development, diversification of the rural economy through tourism, and active learning tourism investments. The JP actually links with the EU LEADER programme and IPARD (National Agriculture and rural development programme 2010-2013) and recognizes the need to approach sustainable rural tourism from a multi-sectoral perspective over a longer time frame. Specific components have developed the capacities at national and local/regional levels through a series of activities structured around the two JP outcomes.  New partnerships and networks have been established, as well as the development of private-public partnerships (PPP). Specific promotion activities, such as the first Serbian Investment Tourism Forum, were organized. Capacity building was supplemented by organized study tours to Croatia on rural development support. UNEP contributed to increasing the visibility of sustainable tourism through the use of the SIFT (National corporation for Investment in Tourism) network.

Overall the JP organized 106 training workshops, reaching 2,273 beneficiaries, of which 50% were women. At the local level the schools (12) were also involved through an active learning tourism investment approach and 8 PPP initiatives were undertaken. In the diversification of the rural economy through tourism, FAO supported 23 small projects through two schemes. UNWTO also entered into an agreement for National Tourism Organizations to implement grant schemes. Overall a number of examples of improved service provider delivery were obtained through the various grant schemes and contributed to learning-by-doing and the diversification process using tourism as an entry point.


Outcome 1:

Legal and policy framework for supporting diversification of rural economy through tourism is developed and contributes to achievement of Millennium Development Goals.

Outcome achievements:

  • The National Rural Tourism Master Plan (NRTMP) was developed and approved by the government. It includes a detailed action plan and implementation plan prioritizing activities across a range of different identified programmes (e.g. governance system, rural activities product development, creation of man-made facilities, accommodation, etc.). A total of 106 Local Tourism Organizations were surveyed, and 588 surveys were made in rural areas of Serbia to visitors. Extensive consultation processes were undertaken with MFE, NTOs, and rural tourism stakeholders (from the four target regions). The NRTMP is national in scope but has a focus on the four priority regions of the project: Central Serbia, Eastern Serbia, Lower Danube and South Banat. FAO contributed to improved adherence of food producers/businesses to international good practices in food safety and quality in the food chain, in order to establish the sustainable link from the field to the fork. This included provision of conditions for investment support; strengthening extension and knowledge transfer systems, and supporting producers to achieve sustainability of the small-farming sector.
  • The JP also contributed to a study that analyses how Serbia investments and policy reforms provide the mechanisms and the financing for the reconfiguration of businesses.
  • The NRTMP was developed in collaboration amongst five UN agencies and 3 national partners. It has a special focus on child and youth tourism with an education component, so it offers a range of models for its development. To favor information and investment, the JP organized training programmes for decision makers in the finance sector at both the national and local levels, and eight PPP initiatives were supported through a grant scheme.


Outcome 2:

Local rural tourism and support industries are better linked and organized; and local stakeholders’ capacity is improved for delivering services and products in line with national strategies.

Outcome achievements:

  • Capacity building programmes were organized as a result of the recommendations of the Rural Tourism Task Force. The Task Force (TF) is a result of the NRTMP with six staff and with the aim to coordinate and avoid duplication among the existing organizations. A number of surveys were undertaken by the TF that provided the basis for decision making on a number of actions to be undertaken, including training workshops and capacity building. UNTWO developed a grant scheme for rural tourism stakeholders: some 90 participants attended the related workshops, while 37 grants (of 136 applications) were given for US$ 200,194 of which 36 were successfully implemented. Results included improved facilities (leading to a longer tourism period – e.g. heating installation), new marketing materials and techniques, new equipment and products being sold. The strategy was to improve service providers at targeted destinations to offer higher quality services through a series of improvements.
  • Another aspect of capacity building was done in project cycle management training of local stakeholders through the support of FAO, with a specific focus on capacity building for rural development. Here simulations and grants were used as exercises within an integrated approach to capacity building.
  • At the local level UNEP provided capacity building in the field of Energy efficiency and alternative energy and sustainable resource management, with a participation of over 600 representatives of private, public and civil sector organizations from 19 municipalities.
  • An important event was the First Serbian Tourism and Business Forum that was held in November 2011 and was attended by a large number of international experts.
  • In terms of the JP design the UNICEF grant scheme was changed from its original intent in order to obtain more resources by focusing on a lower number of target institutions. Therefore 4 instead of 20 educational tourism sites were targeted by the Joint Grant Scheme for an amount of US$ 120,000. Of the 24 applications received, 6 projects were selected and funded. All projects include a rural school and the wide participation of the community – therefore an inclusive approach was used to articulate the projects. Also promotional fairs and events for children and adult were undertaken. Educational activities will continue after the end of the JP through the Friends of Children of Serbia.
  • 59 participants attended four trainings on sustainable tourism for rural development and UNESCO held a workshop on cultural heritage in partnership with rural tourism.
  • In all 19 participating municipalities a revision of local development strategies with focus on tourism took place along with recommendations for local strategies in terms of tourism development.
  • 10 projects aiming at diversification of rural economy through tourism were supported for a total of over US$ 100,000 to ensure that 10 NGOs in 4 regions, through partnerships with local service providers and local governments could undertake diversified tourism projects with emphasis on socially excluded groups. An example was that additional options were added to the accommodation services offered.


 Best practices:

  • Although the project officially ended in April 2012, the JP continued to work with the teams and strengthen their capacities with several trains such as Basic Workshop skills, Tourism Regulatory Framework, Defining a pricing strategy, were organized to improve the grantees capacities.

  •  Joint tranining was done under the EU-LADER initiative and the JP.


Lessons learned:

  • Investments done through grants need to go hand in hand with strong technical support, knowledge transer and extension work; grants should be called a "reality show" - an exercise to prepare grantees for reality

  • The JP could have improved its learning and understanding about the functions of the national institutions to enhance the sustainability of the initiatives.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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