Mountain Bike Village in Bulgaria

Mountain Bike Village in Bulgaria

Bulgaria
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mountain Bike Village in the heart of Bulgaria. Tourism on two wheels is combined with meeting local people, touching culture and traditions as well as the wild nature, beautiful views, rear birds and unique cliffs. Nature and tradition preserving are our leading rules. We want to create a unique destination which will help the local community prosper and will give popularity and tourist face to and extreme sport like mountain biking.

Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

Geogri Dimitrov 78

City

Vasiliovo

State/Province
Postal/Zip Code
Country
Year innovation began

2008

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourism management and impact on the destination

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Community Organization

Geographic location

Rural, Mountain.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of local input

Main insight addressed

Incorporate sustainable practices

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

The goal of the MTB Village is to involve large part of the residents in providing an unique product, which is a mixture between adventure and rural tourism, without affecting residents everyday life.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

First of all, developing a MTB trails network will make the destination popular, while preserving the unique character of the nature, without affecting with any kind of pollution. Second, we will develop special tracks going around reserved area for rear birds, unique rock groups and places of cultural heritage interest. The accent and the uniqueness is in the fact that the whole village will be promoted as a MTB village where a mountainbiker can receive any kind of services and support. In conclusion this product will benefit to all of the residents in this rural area, stimulating them to keep their unique way of life in conditions of urbanizing and global world.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

MTB is not a popular sport in Bulgaria there are few nongovernmental organizations and just one online media for promoting this "sport", or as I prefer to call it - "tourism". The overall amount of mountain bikers estimates not more than 3000 people. The second thing is that 1/3 of Bulgarian territory is covered by mountains, but we have only 150 km of marked MTB trails, which is really insufficient. The third thing is that cities like the capital Sofia are rising while more and more rural areas are being abandoned by it's residents. That's where our idea comes. We want to combine different approaches and to develop mountain biking, to involve rural area residents and to achieve sustainability, which will make the MTB village to prosper combining traditions, tourism, sport, nature saving in a unique and innovative product.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

We need stable partnership with the local municipality. Bulgarian government is really heavy and corrupted institutions to expect any kind of help from it. Partnership with funding institutions will give our innovation a flying start, will minimize the risk and will provide a sustainable results. Other partners we need are other mountain bike, ecological, tourist organizations, medias and travel agencies from all over the world, so we can promote our unique product and ensure the wellbeing of the MTB Village residents.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Promoting MTB tourism, preserving the nature, keeping tradition alive, ensuring the well-being of local residents, providing unique approach, which could be used in other rural areas.

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

We are at the start of creating unique tourist product. We have one house, which could host up to 8 people and we have contacted local residents who provide accommodation, local food, fresh milk, herbs, mushrooms, transport. We plan to buy bigger house which could host up to 20 people in future. The impact will be measured in tourists hosted, local people involved, kilometers of MTB trails. Cycling is a unique mean for transportation which minimize the negative impact for the environment, meanwhile it can bring lot of people to any particular location. Promoting this kind of tourism is something new for Bulgaria and we expect people to be interested in it. MTB tourism is more popular abroad, so creating a unique destination will bring a lot of foreign tourists, which could become the self sustainable backbone of the MTB village.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

MTB village will be a place, where most of the local residents will be involved in creating an unique place for sport, recreation, tourism, bird observing, rest and so on. Traveler enthusiasm will be promoted with opportunity to be part of the Bulgarian rural tradition, to see the unique nature and reserved areas, as well as the chance to ride a mountain bike for the first time or to improve the skills of advanced mountain bikers through training courses, different terrains and special tracks.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

We have established connection with part of the residents, who will provide services as accommodation, transport, logistic help to the tourists. Apart from that, local residents will provide supplies as food and drinks, all prepared or produces in the village. Local community is accepting the idea for sustainable development and each opportunity to improve the area or the services, connected with it's well-being is accepted with open hands.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

Information about the area and it's natural and cultural values will be provided at different levels. Guidebooks, brochures, labels and signs will be disseminated for promoting the destination and educating both travelers and local residents about the are and it's unique opportunities. Apart from that, hosts and guides will be giving mouth to ear additional information about interesting facts and details about the area, mountain biking, nature, culture, tradition and heritage. Many people will have the chance to try mountain biking, which could impact their future traveler plans. Apart from that ongoing information campaign will inform both residents and tourist about nature preserving, trash recycling and so on.

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

We are at the start line. For making our innovation sustainable in future, we need to be granted by a fund, so we can mark special bike trails, buy another house for accommodation and renovate it, prepare, print and disseminate print materials for promoting the destination. Connections with travel agencies are a key point for sustainability, so they can disseminate the destination, while providing large number of tourists to the MTB Village. We are in the process of applying for EU grants for implementing our ideas into real world, ensuring self sustainability and stable managing organization.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

It is not financed, because we have just started developing it. We have one house, if that could be shown as non financial contribution.

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

If we manage to establish a stable model for rural developing through mountain biking and involvement of local community, we would like to expand our approach to the neighbor villages/areas.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

The main barrier so far is the absence of financing strength. It is a barrier, which will be overcame near future. The impact of the program could meet barriers like non-popularity of mountain biking in Bulgaria, lack of foreign tourists in this particular areas, but this could be solved through good dissemination of information about the destination.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

We are group of young people, thrill seekers, nature loving persons, who enjoy traveling on two wheels where people rarely walk. We cross Bulgarian mountains during the weekends, always looking for a way to get our hobby and professions in one peace. Wandering for some years, we came to the idea that this particular village is a place to put our efforts on. A master in tourism, a sociologist, a MTB guide, a tourist guide, cultural science student, web designer and developer and video editor. We are all gathered around the mountain bike adventures and the wish to create a nice place for tourist offering unique services for it's visitors. Vasiliovo village is our place, we already have a house there and now we are starting as a non-governmental organization. Our motivation is to spend more time in the wild nature and to use the natural resources in a way to give sustainable development to the village and to ourselves. We have the full support of local municipality, tourist agencies and village residents. We are now looking for funding to put our idea into real world.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

I'm 25 years old, graduated in Cultural Sciences in Sofia University, Bulgaria. For two years I have been working in a NGO dealing with contemporary art and culture. Apart from that I'm skilled mountain biker, so by now, I want to put my passion and working efforts in combining obtained skills in working in a NGO with the love of nature, tourism and mountain biking. My plans for the future is to get the described idea into life, helping MTB prosper as a kind of tourism and developing a sustainable organization which I'll work for.

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

Mountain Bike Village in the heart of Bulgaria. Tourism on two wheels is combined with meeting local people, touching culture and traditions as well as the wild nature, beautiful views, rear birds and unique cliffs. Nature and tradition preserving are our leading rules. We want to create a unique destination which will help the local community prosper and will give popularity and tourist face to and extreme sport like mountain biking.