Cultural holiday in the Balkans
Description from the holiday company
Cultural holiday in the Balkans: the story of this holiday company
As we enter our 10th year as a small independent tour operator, there’s been no looking back as we have developed our love for travel into not simply a business, but a way of exploring and understanding the world and the diverse cultures that inhabit our planet. When asked what motivates him, Jim our MD always gives the same answer ‘That’s easy. It’s the fact that I know we’re making a real difference, opening up countries to the potential of responsible tourism and the benefits that this can bring.’
Responsible tourism: Cultural holiday in the Balkans
We spend time walking in pristine environments and our guides are careful to brief travellers on appropriate behaviour and the importance of taking all rubbish with us. In areas such as the stunning Rakitnica Canyon, set in a truly remote location high in the mountains, tourists are rarely seen and we monitor our impact closely, not only of our group visits but the impact any increase in tourism may have.
When visiting sensitive cultural areas such as Ostrog Monastery and the mausoleum of Peter II Petrovic Njegos, a prince and poet, and one of the best loved figures in Montenegrin history, clients and guides are briefed on local customs and general courtesy (such as asking permission before taking photographs/dress-codes/conduct in places of worship etc) and behave appropriately.
We make every effort to alert the owners of the accommodation in question to ways of improving their service with the environment in mind. This includes asking guests if towels need changing, which is a simple but effective way of reducing impact. We make sure that guesthouses and hotels try wherever possible to source local produce, although most are already more than happy to show off their local delicacies.
Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the Balkan countries and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion that local people can speak about their own country means that your experience will be enhanced.
We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an on going relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved. People such as Alania in Serbia and Maric in Bosnia are part of our team and take great pride in showing people their country.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism.
In Biogradska Gora National Park shepherds still reside in the park and it is not unusual to come across a cabin and enjoy the local hospitality. We want to visit areas like this as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.