More Czech tourists discover Albania
TIRANA, June 20 – The number of Czech tourists to Albania has almost doubled to about 16,000 in the past three years and is on track to further increase as the two countries step up cooperation on tourism.
Known for their passion for Albanian mountains and adventure tourism, Czech tourist arrivals climbed to 15,700 in 2015 up from only 9,300 in 2012, Economy and Tourism Minister Milva Ekonomi told Czech Minister of Regional Development KIarla Slechtova during a visit she paid to Albania.
“We are working to compile promotional brochures on Albanian tourism in the Czech language,” minister Ekonomi has said.
Tourist charter flights from Prague to Tirana during this season have increased to twice a week as Czech interest on Albania and its adventure tourism on Albanian Alps and coastal areas is on the rise defying isolated safety concerns and incidents.
Czech minister Slechtova said Czech Republic investors are interested in investing in Albania but the long-standing unclear and disputed property titles hold back investments.
The Albanian government has been recently offering investors state property in priority areas for a symbolic 1 Euro for up to 99 years in return for investment of more than €50 million.
The Czech government through its embassy in Tirana has been supporting several tourism development projects in Albania, including tourist trails in the Dajti Mountain and mountain rescue teams in the Valbona Valley.
Czech Ambassador to Albania Bronislava Tomasova says promotion and environment protection will lead to rising number of tourists in Albania’s mountain and national park areas.
“Being in Albania for a few years now, and a Czech, I have had the opportunity to hike in many Albanian mountains, and also few times in the Dajti Park and its vicinities, and I would say that I was genuinely impressed by its beauties. Czech tourists love Albanian mountains and their number is increasing every year,” she earlier told Tirana Times.
Albania has also been regularly participating in recent years at Prague’s Holiday World, one of the top Central European tourism fairs.
Last year, a group of Czech volunteers fond of exploring northern Albania teamed up to establish the Albanian Challenge not for profit association aimed at revitalizing the isolated Curraj i Eperm village in the northeastern region of Tropoja where they marked more than 100 km of trails.
The emerging mountain tourism in the northeastern Albanian Valbona valley is also receiving a boost with launch of the Albania’s first mountain rescue team. A local NGO in Valbona has been awarded a €6,000 grant to begin training the first rescue team by the International Visegrad Fund, an international organization based in Bratislava founded by the governments of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries — the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland, and the Slovak Republic.
A joint Czech Republic, Austrian and Slovak project is also turning the Dajti national park, situated just 25 km east of Tirana, into a more accessible and attractive destination.
The project aims to mark almost 100 km of trails across the entire territory of Dajti national park and its surroundings, to print brochures, flyers and touristic maps, to develop a web mobile phone application, and also to create educational programmes for children and young people.
Further developing mountain tourism remains a challenge to address the seasonality of Albania’s summer and coastal-based tourism and turn the promising tourism sector into year-round.
Ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro account for three-fifths of foreign tourists visiting Albania, with local experts often referring to this market as ‘patriotic tourism.’
Albania’s travel income slightly rose to a historic high of €1.35 billion in 2015 when the country was visited by 4.1 million foreign tourists, according to Bank of Albania and INSTAT data.