The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program

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The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program: Integrated Rural Eco Tourism Around the Black Sea

Kiev, UcraniaUcrania
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

This program will protect the environment, preserve rural culture and create economic growth for the countries around the Black Sea through sustainable tourism. It is a hybrid program with for-profit and non-profit components and will create a brand of community based sustainable tourism.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural areas around the Black Sea are losing population and are generally poor. Agriculture is degraded and the environment adversely affected through lack of stewardship. On the Black Sea coast of Turkey, over 4 million live in rural areas - more than urban - and their culture and environment is being lost. In Georgia, rural areas struggle to maintain livelihoods. In Ukraine a similar pattern is apparent as it is for other countries in the area.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The future economic impact of tourism on the Black Sea region will exceed $450 billion by 2022 and will represent over 7% of the overall economy. Eco-tourism is a key component. The Program is taking advantage of the extraordinary growth in the eco-tourism sector to support rural sustainable development and attract private sector investment by targeting an entire region in an integrated manner. It will tap the huge eco-tourism potential of the region to benefit the people living there, businesses serving them and create new economic and travel opportunities. It is a unified system – a regional net-work of community based tourism products under a permanent visual banner. Communities will gain from tourism and the economic multiplier effect.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A community must create its own plan and management committee, developing management expertise that would not otherwise exist. The plan must be economically sustainable, environmentally friendly and show how the community will benefit as a whole. The Program will provide support and training. Once accepted as a branded community, the Program will place the community and its products, whether small hotels, guest houses or single homestays, together with a description of the offerings - trekking, agro-tourism, educational etc., on a web site to attract travelers. Prices will be structured to include a portion over and above what would be paid directly to providers. These additional amounts will cover costs and a small grant fund.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The regional aspect will allow offers for varied experiences and cross border cooperation, creating more experiential products to offer. The community based aspect helps communities organize and think proactively to develop a product that is sustainable. Agriculture can benefit from training in and production of organic products which the program can help market. Cultural traditions can be maintained and will provide educational experiences for travelers. A branded product - the community - will be marketed on a web-portal created by the Program - revenue from travelers will produce a profit; a percentage will be placed in a special small grant fund. New economic opportunities will be created in rural areas for services, a multiplier. Community studies have been carried out in Ukraine and Turkey. Georgia has just begun. Advice on business planning is being provided in Ukraine.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The Program is a hybrid. So far, it has been self-financed by the organizers. It will be financially sustainable because it will be for-profit focused - travelers will be paying for unique experiences in a region that is not covered as such. The organizers will establish a dedicated web-portal to handle all reservations in communities, taking a small amount to cover its profits and costs and setting aside a percentage for a grant fund.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Multiple donor oriented projects have been implemented in all the countries targeted. They are short in duration, site focused and imposed solutions. They have resulted in some successes but when the project ends, the funding is gone and the results are not sustainable. This is a program, not a project. It is aimed at being sustainable, continuous and regional (not country specific). It is community based - creating a buy-in. It deliberately takes a for-profit approach to benefit communities and involve the private sector. The Program itself is intended to eventually generate a profit.

Founding Story

The "Aha!" moment is not recent. It came in 2004 as decision to provide a series of grants to promote rural green tourism in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. For a total of $45,000 six NGOs were funding and new business created. They are all still in existence. In 2011, after meeting some of the leaders of these success stories, it was clear that a huge market could be attracted to the unique cultural, ecological and historical region of the Black Sea - linking all the rural communities together in a web of commerce in sustainable tourism. The market existed and sustainable rural development could be enhanced by eco-friendly travel opportunities. So, from a very small component of an international foundation in 2004, we knew.


Richard Shepard's picture

Community based development is notoriously difficult to implement. We think by making this a hybrid it has a far better chance of success both for the organizers and the communities. What do you think? And - we have significantly more documentation - just ask and we'll send it.