Albania’s tourism booming after pandemic

SarandaWeb 4 Min Read

The country was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but the government is already predicting a big upturn in tourist numbers.

Despite the global pandemic, Albania still attracts around two million visitors per year, making it one of Europe’s top destinations.

But this year, the number of people travelling to the country is expected to increase by around 20 percent, according to Albanian Tourism Minister Erion Veliaj.

“The travel industry was severely affected during the coronavirus crisis, but now we expect that by May, the number of tourists in Albania will reach 2.2 million, which is around 20 percent higher than the same period last year,” he told AFP news agency.

In recent weeks, the country has seen a sharp decrease in visitors from Italy, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic.

“We expect that Italy will be the hardest-hit country in Europe,” Veliaj said. “It’s a pity, but the situation is getting better.”

A new regulation has now been introduced to make the visa-free regime with the European Union more flexible.

And the Albanian authorities are encouraging airlines to fly more frequently to the country. The government has also launched an advertising campaign to promote the country to international travellers.

Tourism in Albania has taken off after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a travel trade group, with visitors coming in from across Europe, Asia, and North America.

The Albanian Tourism Association said on Friday that it had seen an 80% increase in bookings since late March, and that tourist arrivals in April have been double the number recorded during the same month last year.

“It’s good news. We are experiencing a strong growth in the number of tourists arriving in Albania in recent days. This is a clear sign of the positive development in our country’s economy after the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the association’s head of communications, Shaban Krasniqi.

Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, and Norway have increased, the association said.

“With the current situation in our neighboring countries, and the fact that the number of tourists coming to our country has increased, we expect that this trend will continue for a few more weeks,” Krasniqi added.

Last year, Albania welcomed 1.9 million foreign tourists, making it the top European destination for tourists from the United States, Russia, and Canada.

The number of domestic tourist arrivals in Albania reached 3.7 million, with over 90% of those coming from the Balkan country’s main cities, Durres, Tirana, and Vlora, the association said.

Krasniqi said the government would continue to pursue efforts to strengthen the tourism sector in Albania, especially considering the new challenges brought by the pandemic.

“We are working together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and the Ministry of Tourism, to develop a comprehensive strategy for the recovery of the tourism sector in Albania,” he added.

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