Ambitious Albania aims for 7 million tourists every yearThursday, May 23, 2013. Ivan Radford @themovechannel
Visitor numbers to the Balkan nation of Albania have seen a remarkable near double-digit increase over the past two decades. Between 1995 and 2011, the country's tourist population increased by 9.6% making it one of the top ten fastest growing tourism markets in the world according the latest data from The World Bank.
Since this former communist nationemerged from behind the Iron Curtain in 1990, the appeals of this hidden Eastern European gem have slowly been discovered with over 4 million tourists arriving in 2012.
But not yet satisfied with this impressive growth, Prime Minister Sali Berisha has set a new goal of welcoming 7 million tourists to Albanian shores stating that tourism is the most extraordinary potential of this beautiful Eastern European nation and should remain a top priority.
Peter Walshe, Marketing Director of Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa, a 5* resort with villas and apartments located on Albania's Adriatic coast comments:
“The positive economic growth (GDP is forecast at 2% for 2013) and the efforts made towards establishing a thriving market economy here in Albania is astounding. In the last 5 years we have been on the ground here, we have seen first-hand the increase in visitors from not just Albania's neighbours but as far afield as Finland, Canada and even China.”
Indeed, airlines and tour operators alike are taking advantage of this steady growth in demand. Balkan Road Trip Tours for example have launched a brand new two-day Albania add-on to its existing Croatia to Greece Pass tour taking travelers to UNESCO-listed sites of natural beauty and historical points of interest such as an early-second-century Roman amphitheater packed with ancient secrets.
In the skies, the Slovenian national airline, Adria Airways, is also extending their services to focus on emerging markets such as Albania revealing plans to open a base in the capital Tirana with an inaugural direct service to Frankfurt.
From commercial enterprises to the official, there's no stopping the interest in Albanian tourism. The Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) between Albania and the European Union have stressed that a deal committed to short term visa free travel is on track which will certainly assist with EU accession efforts as well as attract further FDI.
The tourism accommodation sector is one which has seen increasing levels of FDI. High quality, western style projects such as Lalzit Bay have been welcomed by the government as they are meeting the demand for beds from both holiday makers and second property owners alike as well as creating jobs, wealth for the community and even supporting local charities such as Sue Ryder Albania.
Author - Dan Johnson
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