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Smart Tourism Enhancement Project (STEP)

Project Title
Smart Tourism Enhancement Project (STEP)
Type of Contract/Category
Grant contract
IPA Component/ (national or regional) Programming year
IPA 2, Cross border cooepration: former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Republic of Albania, allocations 2014-2015
Lead applicant and co-applicants
Lead applicant: Metamorphosis, Foundation for Internet and Society, Skopje Centre for Development of Polog Planning Region, Tetovo Council of the Elbasan County, Elbasan
Abstract (short project summary)

The overall objective of the action is to promote a vibrant touristic sector that effectively adapt to the needs of both domestic and international markets and contributes to accelerate growth and stimulate job creation in the cross-border tourism zone between Macedonia and Albania.

This main objective is to strengthen the foundations, the general environment and the necessary elements needed for strategically reaching and benefiting from new international markets in the tourism industry and improved communication and cooperation for the purpose of achieving a coordinated development of joint cross-border entrepreneurial activities. The key elements which will bring about this change include:

(a) strengthened capacities of tourism SMEs and increased access to markets

(b) raised awareness and understanding of the need for new marketing approach in tourism;

(c) improved environment for exchange of information, cooperation, research, as well as joint marketing product development towards an expansion of markets beyond the local cross-border area;

(d) local expertise among private and public entities to develop enabling policies and conformity standards that meets international standard on tourism development;

(e) the capacity of SMEs to effectively use technology to enhance their value chain

(f) Knowledge and awareness necessary to sustain partnerships and good practices in tourism marketing as well as strong network committed to advance the development of cross-border entrepreneurial tourism initiatives.

The STEP project will empower private and public entities (SMEs, government agencies, start-ups and individual entrepreneurs) in the tourism sector to contribute in the economic growth and stimulation of job creation in the cross-border region. It takes into consideration that there are already SMEs and public institutions and organizations who have been engaged in various initiatives and have expertise in the tourism sector. Moreover, the project fosters the creation of new initiatives and opportunities for tourism initiatives, but will also further invest in the existing capacities to address ongoing needs as well as enrich the pool of available expertise. In addition, the project will increase SME capacities to internationalize their market reach and provide them with tools and skills that will allow them to increase tourism offer and demand in the region; and also connect and build new partnerships beyond the completion of the project.

Overall, the project will benefit the final beneficiaries in the following way:

§ SMEs and start-ups will be able to raise their capacities and to engage strategically in creating new business opportunities, expand their markets thus contributing to their increased business turnover; they will also be provided the opportunity to network and build new partnerships leading to creation of new business initiatives.

§ Individual entrepreneurs will learn how to earn additional income by using their underutilized assets and will be provided opportunities to start micro-businesses in the tourism sector.

§ Government agencies will have clear guidance on how to facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for tourism development. STEP will provide them opportunities for building a relationship of mutual trust and realistic expectations with the private sector.

Ultimately the project will increase the share of export value of the tourism sector and will contribute towards a more sustainable, inclusive and balanced economic development of the region.

Final beneficiary
SMEs, government agencies at local and national level (relevant ministries, regional development centres, departments of tourism), tourism development and promotion agencies, tourism clusters, chambers of commerce, start-ups and citizens as potential individual entrepreneurs in the tourism sector as well as CSOs and the media
Action location/s
Macedonia and Albania

(S1) Broadening and enhancing strategic and coordinated access to specific new and strategic tourism export markets for tourism businesses (SMEs and start-ups in particular);

(S2) Increasing capacities of tourism businesses to meet the demand and requirements of tourists in the region and to build strategic partnerships and collaboration domestically, regionally and globally.


STEP centers around 4 key areas of activity:

1) Strategy-building via wide consultation and coordination,

2) Capacity building for SMEs, start-ups, and individual entrepreneurs,

3) Networking and internationalization of the value chains,

4) Supporting concrete champion projects to be used as best case examples to motivate and foster cross-border tourism.


(1) Increased capacity of tourism business to strategically use ICT for increased market reach via coaching and mentoring support platform;

(2) Increased tourism demand in the region through increased online content and activity;

(3) Increased interconnection between tourism and culture in the cross border region through the creation of a STEP network of informed and empowered tourism public and private entities, CSOs, Tourism clusters and/or chambers of commerce;

(4) Increased capacity of tourism businesses and individual entrepreneurs to internationalize, connect and partner with international relevant parties;

(5) Created credible STEP brand providing added value to the tourism SMEs in the cross-border region by bringing identity benefit, creating trust and respect and raising expectations of quality and integrity;

(6) Created Inter-Regional Tourism Online Platform (iTOP)

Facts & Figures

The key facts figures relevant to the project:

• Project duration: 27 months

• Start date of the project: 01.01.2017

• End date of the project :01.04.2020


• Cost of the action:  € 420.000

• EU contribution: € 357.000

• EU contribution percentage: 85 %

Final useful footnotes
Include at the bottom of the page the statement

For more information:  followed by an appropriate web address and contact details; 

contact details:

Florent Bajrami , project coordinator,