Rural tourism is one of DESA’s “Return to Life” projects. It represents a form of self-help activity which is meant to further the economic development of the farming population of Konavle. These are the very same people DESA has assisted over the years, during the war and in the immediate post-war period.
Repairing damaged buildings was not enough to bring life back to this war ravaged area, which has only smale-scale farming activities to rely on for its livelihood. DESA has therefore undertaken the task of enabling single households to develop their own small-scale businesses by taking advantage of resources they already have: their homes, the produce from their land, their animals, and their rich environment. Rural tourism may be the best and the most environment-friendly way of bringing some new life to this community, by bringing potential consumers directly to the farmers’ doorsteps.
This project has started in the year 2000, in cooperation with the French organisation “Accueil Paysan” Federation Nationale – Grenoble, which offered their clients farmhouse accommodation in the villages of Popovici and Radovcici. Farmhouse visits are currently very attractive to hard-working city dwellers, living in the heavily industrialized regions of Europe. Tourists in Konavle have the benefits of relaxation, homegrown food and local specialties, and a close connection to a unique natural environment.
DESA has organized a series of educational programmes for the local hosts, to enable them to improve their hospitality options and to communicate better with their clients. The programme includes a course in French language and workshops on the basic requirements of French tourists. As general tourism education, DESA hosts seminars on the organization of home hospitality, on various ways of improving and promoting farmhouse holidays offer, and also lectures on local heritage, which hosts might be asked to transfer to their guests.
The rural tourism activity offers an extra bonus. Concentrating on the general development of each household’s potential, it represents a way of building for the future. We hope this kind of project will persuade the younger people to recognize their opportunities within their home region. With the development of the tourist economy, more young people may stay on with their families, and help improve their homes, instead of thinking about emigrating elsewhere.
In order to bring the visitors into closer contact with the local heritage, during the summer season DESA also organizes special courses in embroidery and silkworm thread spinning, held twice a week in our Lazareti Center.