The Black Sea Sustainable Rural Tourism Program is a community based, regionally integrated, social enterprise venture that will continuously improve livelihoods, promote entrepreneurship, support sustainable economic actions and preserve social, cultural and environmental heritage.
The BSST Program is a result of over 4 years of preparation that included situational analyses and partner development in Ukraine, Turkey and, as of the summer of 2018, Georgia. It will expand to include rural communities in Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania.
The Program is community membership based. It has adopted Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria as a foundation for working toward UN Sustainable Development Goals. GSTC criteria will be adapted to the local political and legal environment, and requires communities to create a formal organization ideally composed of local businesses, ordinary citizens and local government representatives who can complete a strategic plan for the development of the Program in the community.
Community Organizations select and approve businesses and accommodation owners to participate within the Program and work directly with a National Office that reports to a Secretariat.
The Program provides an international web platform on which communities describe their history, activities, festivals and events. Approved accommodation owners are able to showcase their facilities and bookings, packages, tours and events are handled on the web platform.
Additionally, communities are encouraged take part in experiential exchanges with their partner communities in other countries. Since 2014 four exchanges have taken place between Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia giving participants the opportunity to refine their knowledge and apply sustainable practices to their communities. Training has been provided in gender equality, standards, service delivery and strategic planning.
The BSST Program is a social enterprise of Sustainable Rural Development Int'l Ltd.