Opportunities in recovery
Judging by arrivals numbers, the recession was not felt by Albanian travel and tourism. However, incoming tourist receipts did show a marginal value decline in 2010, as spend per arrival declined. Value performance recovered in 2011. Albanian tourism was among the best performing in Europe during the review period. Still, there is huge room for improvement: tourist and transport infrastructure is poor, and foreign language literacy could be improved. Looking at these flaws it is natural that the largest proportion of tourist arrivals to Albania is attributed to Albanians living and working abroad. Still, non-Albanians visits are expanding strongly.
National tourism strategy
Albanian tourism’s strategy stresses that its core intention is to encourage visitors to discover many facts about Albanian culture and nature. The strategic positioning statement of Albanian tourism proclaims that the country is a safe destination with a variety of cultural and natural attractions concentrated on a small area, easily accessible to European tourism markets. The strategy aims to entice visitors for an active holiday, motivating them to “discover” Albania.
As of December 15th 2010, Albania was placed on “The white Schengen list”, meaning that owners of Albanian passports are able to travel to Schengen countries without visas. In 2011, the first effects of this measure were evident – soaring figures of outbound travel. With the EU in close proximity, Albanians can now visit without going through the painstaking process of getting a visa approved. This is likely to have a positive effect on inbound tourism flow as well, since it upgrades the image of Albania in the eyes of EU citizens.
During the review period, significant activity was observed in Albania as a one-day visit destination. Travel retailers from neighbouring Montenegro and Greece offer day trips to Albania via bus or boat. Montenegro and Greece are significantly more developed in terms of tourism infrastructure and attract higher paying clientele. Although the financial effects of these day visits to Albania are not significant, the important thing is that Albania is opening up to new consumers which helps to promote it as an interesting travel destination.
Tourists visiting Albania as well as domestic tourists are increasingly interested in active holidays. Peaceful holidays and a good rest are not usually what people come to Albania for. Mixing physical activities with culture and history has become the usual sales mix for travel offers in Albania. Domestic travel is adapting rapidly, looking to pack more activities, while the average stay continues to shorten. Structuring Albanian tourism product offer according to these guidelines will be the priority for industry stakeholders over the forecast period. Albania will remain one of fastest growing travel destinations in Europe over the forecast period.
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