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Paragliding the valleys of Macedonia

In Macedonia, the Small Business Expansion Project (SBEP), a program funded by USAID and managed by CARANA, is helping small tourism businesses boost their revenues by enhancing the country's offer of adventure travel activities. To promote the opening of a newly refurbished Treskavec paragliding site, SBEP sponsored the inaugural Prilep Open 2014 on November 1-2, the first ever paragliding competition to be held at this location.

Eighty three paraglider pilots from all over the Balkans came together to put their skills to the test a number of competitors that rivals most comparable events across Europe. The U.S. Ambassador in Macedonia and the mayor of Prilep opened the competition with keynotes and both took this opportunity to do their first tandem flights. The Prilep Open was a success and received excellent media coverage, resulting in the participating tandem paraglider pilots reporting a 30% increase in flight sales.

Paragliding shows particular promise for the development of the Macedonian adventure travel sector. The endless mountains and valleys of Macedonia create some of the best paragliding sites in the Balkans. In order to improve the service quality of the tandem flights, SBEP is refurbishing the best paragliding sites in the country with meteorological stations, radio transmitters, signposts, and other equipment that improves the overall safety and efficiency of paragliding.

The Meckin Kamen–East paragliding site near Krushevo was refurbished earlier this year as a part of the same initiative and two other paragliding sites will also receive new equipment in 2014 and 2015 as a part of CARANA's efforts to develop the adventure travel market in Macedonia.

Published November 2014