By Alfred Peza
When it looked like Albania no longer had any hope to become a visited destination for foreigners one day, what we saw was something that came as a shock for everyone. The first half of 2018 showed that the country should brace itself for a real boom in tourism.
It’s now clear that the Albanian economy is set to make the industry of tourism the powerhouse of its economy, which will further contribute in the development of other sectors of economy.
What has happened?
Business Insider Italia says that one of the main destinations for Italians this year may be only one step from home. Albania is considered to be a main destination based on the figures of economic growth in the recent years. According to ISSP (Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognosis), in 2016, the Albanian economy grew by 3.7% and in 2017 it grew by 3.8%. Meanwhile, the figures for the first quarter of this year are even more optimistic. According to INSTAT, economic growth may be 4.45%.
Industry of tourism is offering its own contribution for this performance, because from January to March of this year, Albania was visited by 232 thousand foreign tourists. This figure is 35% higher than the same period last year.
Why are we seeing such boom?
Foreign media provide different reasons for this boom in the area of tourism in the recent months and the years to come. However, what they all seem to agree on is the fact that the country is an unexploited destination by the world industry of tourism.
Albania has over 3400 attractions, according to a recent report of the ministry of Tourism and Environment. Its coast is around 400 km long and it has around 250-300 sunny days a year. The country also has an excellent quality/price ratio in terms of its accommodation outlets alongside its numerous beaches and other destinations inland. Meanwhile, the country is still considered one of the few states in the Mediterranean where food is still cheap compared to the quality and quality which is offered.
Albania is considered to be a country which offers many alternatives in tourism. On the other hand, infrastructure is no longer considered to be an emergency, however, there’s still need for improvement as far as improving standards in roads, water, electricity and beaches.
Albanian tourism is being integrated in the regional and international network of this mega world industry, while the recent legislation changes are stimulating considerable investments in tourist resorts, five star hotels and agri-tourism. The number of foreign travelers entering the country from Rinas international airport during this period of 2018 has seen a significant increase, while the new airport of Vlora is on the way.
Problems that need immediate attention
Albania has many problems. These are old and new problems. These are not problems which relate to nature, because God has given us many beauties. These are problems which have been left to us by history and regimes. They are problems caused by politics, governments and laws on properties and control of territory. They are human made problems.
In the future, tourists may not only visit the country for a short period of time; Albania may be visited all year long. But, who and how are we going to welcome these tourists, while we still don’t have a proper tradition in hospitality and we still don’t have the necessary resources, human and physical to welcome them?
Despite these problems, one thing is certain: future looks bright, but we need to work hard for it. If we don’t work hard for it, tourists will swap our country with other our neighbors, which have been welcoming tourists for years now and have made a real tradition out of it.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy