One of  the areas with the highest potential is tourism.  Albania is in this context one of the very few remaining „white stains“ on the map. Less than one and a half hours from Vienna by plane – with daily connections – it provides nature, culture, mountains, and a tremendoulsy friendly population. Although first instances of five-star- tourism can be seen, the authentical charm of Albania can still be experienced.

International Tourism in Albania

Unit 2000 2005 2010 2012 2014
International Arrivals 1000 317 748 2.417 3.514 3.468
International Tourism Income Mio. USD 398 880 7.780 1.623 1.670
International Tourism Income % GDP 10,9 10,7 15,2 13,3 12,9

Foreign Visitors in Albania

2005 2012
Kosovo 336.322 1.708.743
Macedonia 141.160 399.281
Greece 47.776 225.175
Montenegro 105.636 186.536
Italy 62.520 147.018
Great Britrain 33.163 78.593
Germany 23.391 70.060
USA 30.108 58.621
Swizzerland 6.150 42.546
France 9.984 30.128
Austria 6.230 22.562

Albania wants to position itself as a destination for Tourism. At the moment, it lacks publicity. The number of visitors rises slowly.  “Albania isn’t on the radar yet, with its beautiful coast, its history, its ancient remains, its mountains and its untapped nature it has a huge potential”, the Swiss Ambassador in Tirana said.

Currently, Albania is still mainly a destination for its neighbor Countries. Nevertheless, the potential for cultural trips, tracking and educational trips is high. Another option is „soft tourism“. All these options should be intensified. The tourists from neighbor countries such as Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro are primarily interested in beach holidays. This lead to to the undesirable effect of mass tourism in the northern parts of Albania (Region of Durres). Damian Gjiknuri, Minister of Energy and Industry, confirmed in an interview, that he is aware of the fact, that tourism in Albania is still „under construction“. “Our biggest problem is waste management. We are continuously working on that issue and conduct annual Anti-Littering-Campaigns. The main problem is not of managerial kind, but a mentality problem. It takes quite some time to get attitudes changed.”. To get ready for tourism, the country started some years ago to invest in building up and improving the infrastructure: Road and highway construction, Water Supply, wastewater management and health care.

A regional planning law has been adopted. Illegal construction, as the large-scale ones in the coast towns of Saranda, Durres and Vlora shall be avoided in the future. Large projects such as resorts require confirmation by the national planning committee. “We want to avoid that entire coast areas are obstructed by illegal constructions like in Montenegro.” Again, this is largely an issue of mentality. In the minds of Albanians, regional planning is mixed up with (communist) state-directed economy, which they strictly refuse.

The minister emphasized, that Albania does not seek mass tourism. “Indeed we want to develop beach holidays, but always considering environment and its protection.” The new strategy wants to foster tracking & climbing, agro tourism and cultural tourism. After all, the country possesses three UNESCO cultural Heritage sites – the remains of Butrint town and the ottoman towns of Gjirokaster and Berat.

Tourism and along with it the hotel industry are both quite new sectors of economy. Hence, statistics still are not very meaningful. Currently, only entries and departures are recorded. “We can’t differentiate between tourist and business trips.” Data about Guest nights is incomplete. „For taxation reasons, the hotels dislike to co-operate with the ministery“.

Important Tourist Regions

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