Serbia: Sustainable Tourism for Rural Development


In spite of a decade of economic growth and a halving of its poverty rate, Serbia continues to experience significant disparities in development. People in rural areas are twice as poor as city dwellers, and three out of four are subsistence farmers. To reduce poverty and emigration in rural areas, the MDG-Fund helped develop sustainable tourism as a means of boosting economic activity and increasing employment.

Programme interventions were implemented at the national and local levels, and were aimed at:

  1. Developing a national policy framework for diversifying rural economies through tourism;
  2. Strengthening local stakeholders' capacity for service delivery and production; and
  3. Defining local products and strengthening local capacity for planning in this field.

Main achievements included:

  • The JP supported the development of the National Rural Tourism Master Plan that was approved by the Government. It comprises a Diagnostic, Strategy, Action Plan and Implementation Plan and contains the framework and principles for the development of child, youth and family tourism. The National Rural Development Council was also constituted.
  • A national study on sustainable tourism and a study on the potential contribution of rural tourism to the farming sector were undertaken. An analysis was carried out of local and national budgets in relation to rural tourism. 
  • To enhance capacity for sustainable rural tourism, over 1,000 rural tourism stakeholders were trained through workshops, practical trainings and coaching in programmes mainly concentrating on energy efficiency and sustainable use of resources. The programme also facilitated critical networking for groups and individuals involved in rural tourism (providers, Local Tourism Offices, Municipalities, civil society).
  • Local development strategies were elaborated in all Municipalities in each of the four target regions. Capacity was enhanced in a number of precursor organizations for the establishment of Local Action Groups, including planning, strategy development and group formation. The programme also developed the capacity of individuals and groups involved in rural development to prepare local development strategies and manage the project cycle.
  • Partnerships between public, civil and private sectors were fostered through more than 60 projects and guidelines for Public-Private Partnerships in rural tourism were prepared.
  • A Study on Access to Services of Women and Children in Rural Areas was completed and promoted at national level and in target regions.
  • A Tourism Investment Conference was held that brought together a wide range of tourism stakeholders, including industry representatives with an interest in investing in Serbia. 


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Serbia.



The Joint Programme in action


Net funded amount $4,000,000
Participating UN agencies FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, UNWTO
National partners Ministry of Economy and Regional Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Tourism Organization of Serbia
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