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Promoting free-ride skiing and avalanche safety equipment at Popova Shapka

Today, Shar Outdoors – a tour operator for freeride skiing and snowboarding in Popova Shapka and Bogovinje, promoted the avalanche safety equipment acquired with the support from the Increasing Market Employability Program (IME). Boosting their offer with such modern safety gear will increase the number of free-ride skiers and adventure tourists, as well as the number of tour operators interested to offer these tours to foreign tourists. Media representatives and tour operators joined the event to witness how the equipment is used on the ski slopes, and to be better prepared to promote Popova Shapka as a safe destination for domestic and foreign adventure seekers.

“Offering avalanche safety equipment such as backpacks, beepers, shovels and probes will bring more adventure tourists to Shara. Now we can reach out not only to the dedicated free-ride skiers and snowboarders that already possess such equipment, but also to recreational skiers, people that would like to try freeride skiing, and people that would otherwise not have come because of airline procedures restricting them carry such items.” said Metodi Chillimanov, Shar Outdoors Managing Director.

The equipment alone is worth nothing without a training on how to use it, which was also provided with IME support. The theoretical and practical training was delivered not only for tour guides from Shar Outdoors, but also to guides from their “sister” company for free-ride skiing – SF Freeride in Pelister. Having two adventure destinations working together is quite a unique feature in the tourism sector. When two destinations partner and operate under the same safety standards, they enrich the offer for new and returning tourists who can now choose between two safe free-ride terrains. The positive effect can be expected for other local businesses, too – from local accommodation, restaurants and transport providers, as well as for tour guides operating in the area.

Essentially, this IME-supported activity is led by the premise that the best products in adventure tourism can’t be delivered without proper training, gear and developed procedures for safety. “In the adventure tourism sector, offering safety and staying competitive are always in synergy. One must meet the global safety standards to stay relevant in this fast-growing global market. The safety equipment and the training on how to use it, will brand businesses like Shar Outdoors as more reliable and competitive partners for tour operators. And it will position Shara Mountain and Pelister as safer destinations for adventure tourism”, Stéphane Tomagian, Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy, concluded at the event.