PAN Parks Foundation

PAN Parks Foundation (Protected Areas Network Parks) is European non governmental organization created under the initiative of WWF and supported by the Dutch tourist company Molecaten Group. The PAN parks network preserves the most valuable wilderness areas in Europe trough creating a network of parks that develop sustainable tourism together with the local communities. Till the end of 2007 the network included 10 parks from 8 European countries.

The certification of Rila NP and its membership in the PAN Parks network provided to the local communities the unique opportunity to attract international interest to Rila Mountain and its precious and well preserved biodiversity. Rila NP is one of the 10 certified PAN parks because it meets the strong requirements and high environmental criteria that regulate the human activities in and around the parks. Bulgaria is proud that it is the first and one, out of only two, countries in Europe that have two parks in the PAN parks family – Rila and Central Balkan National Parks.

The European Commission called PAN Parks “one of the best initiatives for development and management of sustainable tourism in NATURA 2000 sites”.
For more information: www.panparks.org

Local PAN Parks Group for Rila NP – objectives and tasks

A Local PAN Parks group is set up for each park, member of the PAN Parks network. It is an official council where the park Directorate participates ( in this case this is Rila NP), as well as representatives of the local authorities of other government institutions, local entrepreneurs in the sphere of ecotourism, of the NGOs, of the business, private persons, etc.

The aim of the group is to unite the park Directorate and the interested parties in their work on sustainable tourism development in the region of the protected territory and to guide this development. A wide range of interested parties are presented in the Local PAN Parks Group (LPPG). Once established, the group become a forum for discussing and solving problems related to the development of the region of Rila NP as a destination of sustainable tourism. The requirement of the PAN Parks Foundation concerning the work of the group is that the decisions should be taken when considering all opinions and reaching a consensus.

The group has the following particular tasks:

To develop and take the responsibility for the implementation of the Strategy and the Action Plan for the development of sustainable tourism around Rila NP as well as to provide monitoring for their implementation
To develop a local certification scheme for the business partners of the Park and PAN Parks foundation. This scheme will be used as a PAN Parks quality standard and will be based on the national schemes and requirements existing in Bulgaria; of the requirements of the PAN Parks as well as on the good practices existing in the region
To identify the first business partners ready to be proposed for certification by PAN Parks Foundation and Rila NP. LPPG will discuss and approve applications for certification of the business partners based on the certification scheme that was developed and adopted. LPPG will also carry out monitoring of the already certified business partners.

To provide assistance in solving problems referring to the development of tourism in the municipalities.
To act as a mediator between the institutions involved in the development of the region of Rila NP as a destination for sustainable tourism
To initiate, develop and implement projects under the Strategy together with Rila NP
To establish contacts and interaction with the other LPPGs for the parks, members of the PAN Parks network in Europe, etc.

Links of the Partners

Rila NP
Community Center “G. Todorov”, Belitsa
Dobasrko Association , Razlog municipality
Family Hotel "Djambazki" in Govedartsi, Samokov municipality
Friends of the mountain Association , “Ivan Vazov” Hut, Dupnitsa
Peri Vollas Horse riding station in Bachevo, Razlog municipality
Family Hotel Zodiac, Samokov
Guesthouse Orlovi Skali in Beli Iskar, Samokov municipality
Belitsa Tourist Information Center
State Tourism Agency
Business Center "Samokov"

Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy and Action Plan for the region of Rila NP

The Local PAN Parks group for Rila NP and the park Directorate developed a Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy (STDS) for the region of the park for the period 2008 - 2013. The STDS is developed under a project of Information and Nature Conservation Foundation financed by the PAN Parks Foundation.

PPF requires for each park together with all stakeholders – tourist services providers, local authorities, NGOs, etc., to develop a long term vision and an action plan for the tourism development in the region. The common vision for the objectives and priorities in the development of sustainable tourism in the area founded the STDS and the Action Plan. They take into consideration the national, regional and local plans for development of sustainable tourism and all relevant initiatives for economic development.

The STDS development started in May 2006 and included all stakeholders of the 12 municipalities around Rila NP. Each municipality selected representative to participate in the strategic planning process. In the creation of the STDS took part also representatives from the business, educational institutions, NGOs, community centres, tourist associations, administrative bodies. Experts from the State Tourism Agency were involved as well as from the regional tourism associations “Pirin Tourism Forum” and “Stara Planina”. The municipalities provided their development strategies and plans as well as resources description. Additional information was collected trough meetings and interviews.

At the end 76 projects were included in the STDS Action plan. Their implementation is supported by the municipalities, Rila NP Directorate, local tourist businesses, NGOs in the region. A public hearing was carried out to discuss the STDS in June 2007 and it was finalized at the end of the year.

What is a local PAN Parks business partner?

A certified Local PAN Parks business partner is committed to working together with park managers to provide a quality tourism experience that does not harm the environment. They have undergone an independent assessment to ensure that they meet set standards and criteria relating to sustainable tourism.

Certified PAN parks business partners around Rila NP

Family Hotel "House Djambazki" in Govedartsi, Samokov municipality
Peri Vollas Horse riding station in Bachevo, Razlog municipality
Family Hotel Zodiac, Samokov
Guesthouse Orlovi Skali in Beli Iskar, Samokov municipality
Belitsa Tourist Information Center
Guesthouse Deshka in Gorno Draglishte, Razlog municipality