Connecting Pearls is a cross-border cooperation project between Serbia and North Macedonia, which is implemented from the funds of the pre-accession assistance of the European Union (IPA II) and is carried out by the city of Leskovac in the Republic of Serbia, in partnership with the municipality of Kriva Palanka in North Macedonia, as well as the Center for Development of the Jablanica and Pčinja districts.
The general goal of the “Connecting Pearls” project is to improve the visibility and quality of the regional cross-border tourist offer through the mapping of natural, cultural and historical heritage, the improvement of locations by the construction works in the city of Leskovac in the Republic of Serbia and the municipality of Kriva Palanka in the Republic of North Macedonia.
The project partners will develop and promote new locations and events for the development of tourism in nature, by arranging and promoting new locations in the canyon of the Vučjanka river on the territory of the city of Leskovac and the canyon of the river Kriva in Kriva Palanka.
The project implementation period is 18 months, from April 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. The specific goal of the project is to establish partnership and cooperation between key participants from the private and public sectors in the field of tourism, through the creation of a joint and integrated tourist offer, joint development and the promotion of new tourist locations
Cross border Stakeholder Working Group workshops
Cross border Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) have been created in the form of cross-border partnership for development and promotion of sustainable tourism in targeted areas. The partnership includes 10 organizations (5 from Serbia and 5 from North Macedonia) from the field of tourism.
The Cross border Stakeholder Working Group worked on the creation of successful and sustainable tourism offers. Four workshops were held in Leskovac and Kriva Palanka. The result of the workshops is the Agreement on business and technical cooperation of the participants in the workshop, a joint SVOT analysis of tourism potentials and an Analysis of 30 key localities for tourism development and the development of an Action Plan for tourism development.
Small scale works in tourism infrastructure at site Vučjanka canyon
At the site Vučjanka canyon, small scale of intervention in touristic infrastructure has been implemented. According the technical documentation, the following works were performed:
- arrangement of a 120m long path and plateau, installation of urban equipment for recreation and entertainment – children’s playground, installation of benches, waste bins, solar lighting on the landscaped path and 2 summer houses;
- Hiking trail works (cleaning, arrangement, marking and labeling of the 5.2 km circular pedestrian path “Biser Kukavice”: from the church of St. John the Baptist in Vučje to Skobaljić town, Sokolica lookout point and Vučje hydroelectric plant;
- Installation of 6 info-boards with all information about the Vučjanka locality and the hiking trail. This activity upgrade current touristic offer and improve possibilities for outdoor tourism in targeted area.
Small scale works in tourism infrastructure at site the Stanecki waterfalls on Kozya river
At the site Stanecki waterfalls on Kozya river small scale of intervention in touristic infrastructure has been implemented. This works includes: Clearing the terrain (6450 m2) of old tree roots, tree branches and large stones located along the route. Clearing terrain where parking for vehicles of the visitors is provided.
Arranging the trail, total length of the trail 4300 m. In addition to arranging the trail, thrue this project we instaled urban equipment: platform for observation of the waterfalls; bridge crossing (made of wooden construction); six rest benches; four double benches with a platform table; five wooden billboards; ten trash cans; twenty signposts. These works improved the existing tourist offer and improved the possibilities of outdoor tourism in the targeted area. The length of the new tourist trails or routes is 4.3 km, revitalized and fully equipped according to the technical documentation.
Organisation of Green Weekend at site Vučjanka canyon
After the completion of small-scale works in the Vučjanka canyon, during the two-day event “Green Days”, held on August 16 and 17, 2022, new opportunities for green and open tourism were promoted.
More than 300 visitors enjoyed the organized walk along the hiking trail “Biser Kukavice” and the cultural and entertainment program and tasting of traditional food – “kačamak”. The main focus was the preparation of “kachamak”, as a traditional dish of our region, but also the territory of our partner, Kriva Palanka. Kachamak was served in front of the Vučje hydroelectric plant, where an entertainment program was organized.
On Tuesday, August 17, KUD Lemind, KUD Lemind, string quartet “Leđero”, group “Laguna”, acoustic band “Čarolija”, DJ Dimitrios performed. At the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Leskovac Church Singing Society “Branko” performed. On Wednesday, August 17, a hiking tour was organized along the “Biser Kukavice” circular path, which starts from the courtyard of the church of St. John the Baptist, passes by the medieval town of Skobaljić, the Sokolica viewpoint, the Orglovo gnezdo viewpoint on Ramno kamen, and reaches the Vučje hydroelectric plant. In front of hydroelectric plant, the serving of a local specialty – kachamak – was organized for all participants and guests of the event. The length of the track is 5.2 km. The path belongs to the easy, technically undemanding paths, so people without hiking experience can hike it.
The "Green Days" organization in the locality Stanečki vodopadi
Organisation of Green Weekend at site Stanecki waterfalls on Kozya River
After completion of small scale works at site Stanecki waterfalls on Kozya river new green and outdoor tourism possibilities in this area was promoted during the three days Green Weekend. As a part of this event, 1 cross country running competition will be organized around the Stanecki waterfalls. Sports clubs, mountaineering associations were engaged in organized activities. ). During the 2 days Green Weekend, we improved visibility of the newly created tourist offers from the targeted area.
Exchange and dissemination workshop
This workshop has been held in Skopje. The goals of this event were to disseminate the results of the project, change good practices and obtain support for the further development of tourism as well as the sustainability of the project. The participants of the event were representatives of the local self-governments of these two regions and representatives of Development Agencies from the cross-border region, the director of the National Agency for the Promotion and Support of Tourism in North Macedonia and the media.
The main topics of the workshop were:
- Project “Connecting pearls” number 48-00-00046/2019-28-3 within the IPA II Cross-Border Cooperation Program SRB-MK 2016-2020.
- Tourist offers and tourist attractions of the city of Leskovac.
- Tourist offers and tourist attractions of the municipality of Kriva Palanka.
- Tourist offer “Green weekend” in the Vučjanka canyon.
- Tourist offer “Green weekend” at the locality Stanečki vodopadi on the river Koza.
- Good practice examples
- Project sustainability plan