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Sun, Sea, and Bunkers Fuel Albanian Tourism Growth

Low cost is a big draw, but obsolete facilities are holding the sector back.

11 April 2017

The Albanian tourism industry earned a record-breaking 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in 2016 and is looking to clear obstacles in the way of further growth.

 

Priorities for the industry include a reliable hotel rating system and attracting more foreign investment, a source in the Ministry of Economy and Tourism told Balkan Insight.

 

Representatives of the tourism industry concur that the lack of reliable lodging is holding the sector back.

 

"We still have [only] 67,000 beds, which is low compared with the growing influx [of visitors]. There is a total lack of investment in tourist resorts and few accommodation structures offer top standards," the chairman of the Albanian Tourism Association's hotel sector, Zak Topuzi, told a local magazine.

 

Capitalizing on the country’s brutal Communist past is a potential growth area.

 

The warren of tunnels and bunkers at a ruinous military base on Sazan Island will be open to tourists in the summer season, the Defense Ministry recently announced.

 

View of Bear Bay, located in the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park. Image via Ermal Hasimja/Wikimedia Commons.

 

The small island offshore from the southern city of Vlore, boasting untouched beaches and turquoise waters below crumbling concrete structures, was off-limits to tourists until the military began opening it up several years ago.

 

 

  • The country held its first regional tourism fair last weekend, shortly after the government cut the tax on tourism from 20 percent to 6 percent to promote the development of the sector, Xinhua reports.

 

  • The central bank estimates that tourism revenues jumped 13 percent from 2015 to 2016.

 

  • Tourism would benefit from proposed economic cooperation with Russia, Xinhua reports.

 

  • A $71 million loan from the World Bank last year was earmarked for tourism development, Voice of America reported.
Compiled by Mate Mohos
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