Karpoš is the most urban municipality of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. The municipality has over 70,000 inhabitants and almost all of them live in high-rise concrete buildings. Robert Jankovski works at the municipality of Karpoš and 20 years ago, he and some of his friends discussed how their municipality needed some activity or attraction where people could spend the weekends or go after working hours. The parks around the apartment buildings were not sufficient to fulfil this need. “I thought that Skopje needed to have an attraction like bigger European capitals do,” says Robert.
In discussion with a friend, Robert first thought about starting a golf playground or park. However, his market analysis showed that it would be too costly and there wouldn’t be sufficient interest. Then his friend from England suggested launching something more adventurous. “My friends and I thought that Karpoš needed an attraction to be famous for: something similar to the adventures of Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider, a place for sports and fun. That is how the idea of the adventure park was initiated,” says Robert.
Robert explains that back in 2005 the municipality launched a skate park in Karpoš, which was the first of its kind in the whole country. A brainstorm with colleagues from the municipality came up with the idea of using that location by expanding the park and adding some more adventurous attractions such as high ropes. In time, the idea developed further, but they lacked funds to implement them fully. Robert was the person at the municipality responsible for cooperation with international and non-governmental organisations and, along with Aleksandra Teova – head of the sector for local development – he found out about the EU-funded local and regional competitiveness project which was supporting municipalities with tourism and environment-related issues. “This was a perfect and tailor-made opportunity for our project, so we decided to apply,” he says.
Following several rounds of evaluation, their idea was selected among other successful ones and the dream of an adventure park became true. Now, the EU-funded Adventure Park includes an adventure section with high ropes and zip lines but also areas for football and volleyball in the sand and a children’s section. As Robert explains, the park now is visited by people who like adventure, but also by families, and is used for events like birthday celebrations and company retreats. It also attracts international visitors from the region and beyond.
Looking back at the beginning of the idea, Robert says, “We could not have done it without the EU support, because our municipality is not rich and we have lots of other priorities such as roads, and water supply”.
The park now is fully sustainable from ticket sales. It is managed by a private professional contractor, and the municipality regularly monitors and inspects the services including the safety and security measures. However, Robert and his colleagues have plans to expand it further. As the park is next to the river Vardar, they are first planning to build a zip line which goes across the river, and later a bungee jumping platform. “These are long term plans, but if implemented, then the Park would become one of the main symbols of Skopje,” says Robert.
About the project
The Local and Regional Competitiveness Project (LRCP) is a four-year investment operation financed with a grant from the European Union (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance – IPA II). The project offers a holistic approach to tourism development and destination management and will provide investment funding and capacity building to support sector growth, investment in destinations, and specific destination prosperity. The LRCP objective is to enhance the contribution of tourism to local economic development and improve the capacity of the government and public entities to foster tourism growth and facilitate destination management.
Photo credits: Adventure Park Karpos
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