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Albania hopes for best tourism season ever Print E-mail

By Erlis Selimaj for Southeast European Times in Tirana

Visitors to Albania can enjoy a wealth of attractions, including cultural and historical sites. [File]

Tourism in Albania is still in its infancy. For decades, the country was ruled by a communist regime that did not allow the industry to become established, and today problems with infrastructure and services hamper its growth.

Nevertheless, Albania offers its guests a wealth of attractions, including sandy white Mediterranean beaches, scenic mountains, fertile plains, lakes, natural monuments, and remote, pristine areas. Ruins and archaeological treasures reflect a rich history dating back to the Illyrians.

This year, the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha is making a major push to boost the industry, pledging that the upcoming season will be the best ever.

"We have to do our utmost," Berisha told his cabinet, calling for improvements to the tourism infrastructure and the removal of deterrents such as power cuts, littered beaches and unstable water supplies.

To draw visitors, authorities have to "work to create the proper conditions", he added. According to the prime minister, this will require collaboration between the health and environment ministries, which should work to ensure that tourists find Albania a safe, healthy and pleasant place to enjoy their holidays.

At the same time, he urged the tourism ministry to organise daily excursions -- at a low price -- to archaeological sites and other points of interest, promoting the country's rich heritage.

While the Albanian tourist industry has a large regional and domestic market, it does not have the international pull of its neighbours. It faces serious competition to the north and south, with Montenegro and Croatia becoming increasingly popular destinations and Greece enjoying a well-established appeal. To compete, Albanian hotels, resorts and tour companies must use the latest technologies to market their services more effectively.

Last year, the USAID-funded Enterprise Development and Export Market Services Project helped hotels around Albania establish ways to better market their accommodations. For the first time, hotel rooms across Albania can be reserved and confirmed instantly through more than 3,000 Web sites around the world. This step alone should provide a major boost, the industry hopes, since Albanian hotels will now be able to reach the global marketplace, drawing a much larger base of potential visitors.

 First Published on

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 March 2006 )
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