About the Region and WB GSC
The Western Balkans encompasses Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. A crossroads and a crucible, where empires met, fought and combined to form a kaleidoscope of cultures unique in Europe; where the Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Venetians, Turks and Austro-Hungarians each left their own indelible mark on the architecture, cuisine, languages, music and traditions of the region. Medieval Orthodox monasteries, Renaissance Catholic churches, mosques and minarets stand together within the same city walls. The aroma of local food from the bazaars testifies to the fusion of East and West, while the region’s eclectic music and dance celebrate this rich heritage.
Snow-capped mountains soar up from plunging river canyons, where wolves and bears still roam wild in deep forests, and stone fortresses stand guard over ancient pathways. Some of Europe’s last and rarest wildernesses are sheltered in this region.The Western Balkans presents a diverse menu of attractions for visitors: action-packed adventures or gentler hikes across contrasting topographies; Europe’s deepest lakes and the sun-soaked beaches of the Adriatic coastline, with exclusive resorts for the wealthy and famous; world-class fishing; lifestyles from a bygone age in rural areas, contrasting with the bustling night life in towns and cities; enthralling architecture and archaeology for the expert and amateur alike; and, everywhere, traditions, music and food, and the hospitality and warm friendliness that are so distinctively “Balkan”.
The Western Balkans–Land of Discovery Geotourism website, created through a collaborative process, highlights the cultural, historic, and natural assets unique to this region. Through this partnership, the region benefits from the National Geographic's considerable expertise. But the project could not work without input from people like you who know what makes this place truly unique and noteworthy.
The Western Balkans Geotourism Stewardship Council has partnered with the National Geographic Society to capture the history and heritage of the Western Balkans through an interactive website. The Western Balkans–Land of Discovery Geotourism website project seeks to celebrate the region as a world-class destination, while contributing to its economic health by promoting sustainable tourism. History buffs and adventurers, backpackers and foodies, artists and sightseers can discover unique destinations based on recommendations from those who know best—the residents of the Western Balkans.
Residents of this region along with visitors, community organizations, tourism stakeholders and local businesses nominate sites for inclusion on this website. The site targets a variety of growing travel niches—adventure and nature tourism, cultural heritage travel, and agritourism—and allow residents to select the one-of-a-kind places integral to a distinctive character of place.
Western Balkans Geotourism Stewardship Council
The Western Balkans Geotourism Stewardship Council (WB GSC) is a regional partnership group of tourism stakeholders from the Western Balkans (WB). The Council was initiated during the Western Balkans Geotourism Project, which supported the development of a co-branded with National Geographic online MapGuide portal promoting six WB countries (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as a regional destination. The main focus of the MapGuide is to highlight the region’s authentic spirit and enable travelers from around the world to explore the region’s historic towns and heritage sites, diverse landscape and natural attractions, hospitable local hosts and vibrant communities.
The development of the MapGuide as well as the initial enabling of the Council was supported by the Regional Competitiveness Initiative (RCI) with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The current role of the Council is to continue the development and management of the online MapGuide by expanding its role as:
1) A travel planning tool for travelers interested in the region and its tremendous potential for culture- and nature-based experiences, and
2) A platform for engaging more regional tourism stakeholders in supporting sustainable tourism that preserves and promotes the authenticity of the region.
Even though the initial make up of WB GSC included representatives from the donor communities in the participating countries, the current members of the Council are representatives of the private sector. This ensures a practical and dynamic approach that is based on encouraging economic growth through the development of sustainable tourism.
Chairman of the Council is Montenegro's Country Portal Director - Jack Delf.
For further information, please contact us using the contact information provided in the right column.
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Photo © Edward Wexler / Wikipedia