Mr. Pashko Ujka, the Mayor of Velipojë, shares his views on the challenges Velipojë faces with each touristic season, informs about the two pillars of the new municipal policy and the issues he tackled in his first year in the mandate. “My programme of work recognizes tourism as the main source of income for the town”, says Mr Ujka. “I see tourism development closely linked to environmental improvements.”
- Can you tell us more about the 1 June touristic season opening?
For the first time in the history of Velipojë we organized a touristic season opening ceremony with many activities, aiming at informing on the tourism potential of the area. The opening event attracted a great number of people from Albania and abroad, national and local TV programs with reports on the activities, representatives of several local authorities. All this contributes to the promotion and development of tourism activities for this year. Our main goal is to increase the income and provide employment opportunities for the local population, improving general wellbeing. My programme of work recognizes tourism as the main source of income for the town.
- Will environmental issues be considered in future activities in Velipojë?
As already mentioned, I see tourism development closely linked to environmental improvements. During the first year in my position as Mayor of Velipojë, I wanted to give a clear message – construction without permission is not acceptable, so the illegal buildings were demolished. The second important issue I wanted to tackle is the solid waste that has been for long the bad “business card” of the area. In the last month we cleaned the beach, improved the waste collection process (twice a day), introduced new solid waste containers, and improved the situation in the local dump site. At the moment, we are concluding the agreement with the German company to transport the waste directly to the Bushat landfill. Tourism development is relying on the town’s nature beauty, and here I am referring to the forest area of the Velipojë reserve, the Buna River Delta, the Viluni lagoon, the pine forest along the sea side, etc. At the same time we are trying to increase our own capacities in the town administration and we rely on field experts to support us and help us valorize the area from the biodiversity and nature points of view. Let me emphasize that the two main pillars of the new policy in Velipojë are: tourism and environment.
- How do you see the process of increasing the local capacities and transmitting your new vision to the institutions present in the area?
This is not an easy task but the process has already started. Thanks to the work of the donors working in the Velipojë area, such as the IUCN project for the protected areas management supported by the Italian Cooperation, the UNEP/MAP project through the PAP/RAC&GWP&UNESCO-IHP for the Buna River integrated management (www.unepmap.org), the World Bank project for the flooding system in the area (www.worldbank.org.al), and others, we are making very good steps in this regard. We are participating actively to learn and build capacities amongst the staff in order to increase eco-tourism activities in the area, but also to build sustainable bridges with other management governmental entities.