Coca-Cola System and UNDP together stimulate sustainable development of the Vlasina region
Additional 47 km of Landscaped Hiking Trails along Vlasina
September 25, 2023
Surdulica, 23 September 2023 – The tourist offer of the protected region along Vlasina Lake is enriched, as of today, with 47 kilometres of rebuilt and landscaped hiking trails, thanks to the initiative titled “Vlasina – Pure Love” which is jointly realised by Coca-Cola System and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with partners. The aim of the initiative is to improve the economic and social development of the Vlasina area, along with the preservation of the environment.
The importance of the “Vlasina – Pure Love” initiative for the development of the location was recognised and institutionally supported by the municipality of Surdulica, the Surdulica Tourist Organisation, as well as the Minister’s Cabinet for the development of underdeveloped municipalities.
"The ‘Vlasina – Pure Love’ project is an example of how we can work together to enhance the natural beauty and economic sustainability of a region. Coca-Cola System, UNDP, Surdulica local self-government, Tourist Organisation of Surdulica, and Hiking Union of Serbia, with the support of the Ministry that I lead, work on the improvement of the Vlasina Lake ecosystem, supporting local entrepreneurs and enabling tourists to enjoy this marvellous destination. The Vlasina has always been the jewel of the region and our country, but today, due to this project, it dazzles brighter than ever before,” said the Minister without portfolio in charge of improving the development of underdeveloped municipalities, Novica Tončev.
In cooperation with the Mountaineering Association of Serbia, the already existing hiking trails leading to the mountaintops of Čemernik and Vrtop were renovated, while one new, tourist-educational trail was also made. More than 80 information boards were installed, which acquaint the visitors in a catchy and interactive way, with rare, protected, and autochthonous species of plants and animals in the region of Vlasina.
“These 47 kilometres of trails are much more than a walking and recreation opportunity. I am certain that, with these trails, we open a possibility for a faster and stronger economic development of Vlasina. When I see so many nature lovers in one place, I am more than certain that together we can conquer any peak, overcome any challenge, and support a better future of this exquisite area,” said General Director of Coca-Cola HBC Serbia, Svetoslav Atanasov.
The Acting Deputy of the Resident Representative of UNDP in Serbia Bojana Balon emphasised that sustainable, community-based tourism supports local economic development, taking account of the protection of nature and preservation of local culture and tradition. “The renovated trails would attract more visitors to Vlasina, which would stimulate the development of small and medium enterprises – from hospitality professionals to manufacturers of authentic souvenirs. Improvement of the tourist offer of the Lake of Vlasina in a sustainable way, together with the Coca-Cola System in Serbia, our national and local partners, we contribute to further economic and social development of this part of Serbia and improvement of the quality of people’s lives,” said Balon.
Simultaneously with the opening of the trails, the Lake of Vlasina was the site of the central event in the biggest hiking happening in Serbia, Rosa Hiking Day. Today, at the event organised by the Hiking Union of Serbia, the trails of Vlasina have been walked by more than 400 visitors and lovers of nature, including 350 school children from the cities of Southeast Serbia. This year’s Rosa Hiking Day, with the slogan “One Step Closer to Health”, has inspired almost 15 thousand people to be physically active, at a total of 93 locations all over Serbia.
“The Rosa Hiking Day is a day when we wish to inspire and stimulate Serbia to live healthier and to raise awareness of citizens concerning active and regular walking as the main precondition necessary in preserving one’s health, which as such is also supported by the Institute of Public Health of Serbia. Additionally, the goal of this event is socialisation, as well as the development of tourist potentials through landscaping and utilisation of the existing hiking trails across Serbia,” said President of the Mountaineering Association of Serbia Iso Planić.
The trails around the Lake of Vlasina would be digitised in the following period, and the visitors would be able to explore them via the online platform “Staze Srbije” (Trails of Serbia).