The true meaning of sustainability: involving locals
The true meaning of sustainability: involving locals Planning for the sustainability for the next 3,000 years, that’s the challenge we have for those who are dedicated to tourism, but how to start. Nancy Tare There are different macro factors that we must take into account when thinking about opening a site for tourism: the speed with which technology advances, the environment and its conservation, and the globalization that reaches us and makes us homogeneous in many ways. The latter, globalization is really important and a tricky one because if there’s nothing that makes us different, we can not preserve the cultural or natural identity of a place, and everything ends up being the same. We came up with this reflection while we were walking through Butrint with Nancy Tare, Regional Director for Albania of the Western Balkans Geotourism Network. Tourists start a journey because they want to know how life is in another place, she affirms to the camera. So to be able to think about the sustainability of a place you must first have "something" unique to preserve. If what we see in every destination is gray color, what is the point in looking for some contrast? That's why Nancy says the most important thing for the creation of a sustainable tourism management plan relies in the local people. They are the only ones who can give sustainability its true meaning, they are only ones that can preserve what is theirs, Nancy tells us as we end the tour around the complex. So simple is that you can see ruins in this place, but a local, a local must see its history, feel proud of it and want to preserve it forever, Nancy's words echo and return us to Nivicë where their locals are people who love their land and feel proud of their landscapes, goats, gastronomy, culture, traditions, home, the raki they produce, and their morning coffee. This is Nancy's reflection. The sustainability of the Balkans will depend to a large extent on the strength with which the locals see in their cultural traditions and natural blessing the true ancestral value that they represent so as not to change it for a souvenir made in China for the cost of a Euro.
South Albania’s first village for a new, sustainable model
Which is the most forgotten place you know? Where were you the last time you were only astonishingly surrounded by silence? When was the last time you took a breath of clean air? Which place makes you feel humble with it’s vast history? For Auron Tare, all these questions have a single answer: Nivicë, Albania. I sincerely don't know if we are doing good or bad in the attempt of making Nivicë our pilot village for the tourism model we want to create, he repeated several times off camera. We truly understand his concern. In the few days we stayed in this small village, that has no more than 50 families spread around the town square and countryside, we fell in love with the fragile authenticity and pureness of Nivicë. Its silence is as deep as the canyons that protect the village. It is a place that connects you with your inner self. Maybe it's the Sacred Oaks Temple that protects it from the other side of the canyon, or the starry sky that embraces Nivicë with peacefulness. It shouldn’t be just the landscape that attracts travelers. Here the paths connect with ancient culture’s history, Auron told us while walking towards an apple orchard that was planted during the 1960’s communist period and today feeds free, wild horses. Nivicë is the new sustainable tourism promise for the South of Albania. The goal that Auron is looking forward to, along with the local people and the Government of Tepelenë (the province in which Nivicë is located) is to connect the coast of Albania with mountain villages like Nivicë that have remained forgotten due to the political circumstances that Albania went through in recent past. With the aid of universities in Europe, the vernacular architecture of the area was researched and the town’s square was rebuilt with a total 5,000 square meters of white stone that will attend the basic needs and services for the travelers that can arrive by trekking or horse riding. A great merit was to maintain the school within the town square’s perimeter. With this action the kids will get to know that its small village promises to be a successful model to the world where travelers like us will cross thousands of miles just to experience it. A final long-term hope is to decrease the migration problem of people leaving Albania to live elsewhere that is latent to the region. The number increased to 1.5 million Albanians in 2010 estimated by the Pew Research Center’s Forum. Here is the link for the study’s methodology: http://www.pewforum.org/2012/03/08/religious-migration-exec/ The model of Nivicë is planned to start operating within the next few years. By slowly moving forward, it will involve the locals in order to preserve inherent methods of food preparation, architecture and traditions. One of the most important challenges is to remind the villagers that they have an exceptional place that has amazing value. If one day investors come with the will to buy the land, at least there will be a management plan that they will need to attend first. But our hope is in making the locals so proud of their village that their land will always stay with them, says Auron while Bora, his Labrador, goes back to the stones she’s been playing with during our interviews in the square.