COunT: “Creative Opportunities in Tourism” is a project developed by the Municipality of Veles and the Development Agency of Florina for the promotion of employment opportunities in the arts and crafts sector of Tourism.

COunT addresses a common challenge in Tourism in the whole of the CBA area: the small added value that tourism flows leave in the CBA. It does so, by developing a new attraction in Veles and enabling both the physical and the human capital available in the cities to create new job positions in the Tourism sector.

In particular, the project builds on the common characteristics between the city of Veles and the City of Florina and capitalizes on their respective plans for Urban Development. The Urban Mobility plan of Veles recognizes the Vardar/Axios riverfront as an important public space area with touristic potential. Similarly, the Florina Urban Development plan recognizes the successful intervention to the Sakouleva riverbanks. The project combines hard and soft actions to transform this potential into tangible touristic products and to create new employment in the two cities.

Therefore the main objective can be encapsulated as “the capitalization of the riverbanks as tourist attractions and the support of new innovative ideas for tourist businesses”. COunT will contribute in developing a new tourist attraction in the riverbanks of Veles and enhancing the attraction of the Florina riverbanks; supporting local innovative initiatives in the field of tourism arts and crafts to start their own businesses; enhancing the brand of Florina as a cultural destination; Increasing the competitiveness of local service providers and stimulate the creation of new services by localizing the value chain in the sector.

The main outputs of the project will be the redeveloped riverbank in Veles, with two (2) kiosks to host arts and crafts businesses, a tourism resource centre in Florina; a study of Value Chain Analysis to increase the local part of the value chain in the CBA area; a joint Business capacity

workshop and joint masterclasses for the support of businesses; and most importantly the support – in a way of a grant – of 10 new businesses in Veles and Florina.

The joint approach from the two partners for all the components and stages of the project reflects their common understanding and vision for a sustainable Tourism sector in the whole CBA area. COunT contributes to this vision among other with the “Protection and usage of cultural and natural heritage”; “Horizontal and vertical networking among sectors that upgrade the touristic product”; “Small interventions to use and create touristic attractions and events”; “Exchange of experience and best practices”

In a nutshell, the added value is that COunT operationalizes the hard actions not only supporting a limited number of new businesses but by expanding the local character of the Value Chain in the arts and crafts sector also to enhance the indirect and induced effects in employment.