Albania emerges as top 10 destination for Poles

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 30, 2016 10:35

Albania emerges as top 10 destination for Poles

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  • “Poles are choosing this country increasingly, because this is an extremely picturesque country and with a new base of hotels,” says Polish travel agents. The southernmost Albanian town of Saranda along the Albanian Riviera is one of the Poles’ favourite destination with their number estimated at 12,000 a year

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TIRANA, Sept. 27 – An almost unknown travel destination until the early 1990s due its prolonged isolation under communism and having mainly relied on patriotic tourism from ethnic Albanians in neighbouring Kosovo and Macedonia in the past two decades, Albania is emerging as an under-the-radar destination also for some key central European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

Albania has recently made it to the top 10 most popular destinations for Poles while more and more Czech tourists are visiting the country in the past few years.

An annual survey conducted by the Polish Tour Operators Association, PZOT, ranked Albania’s as the Poles’ ninth favourite destination for 2015-2016, sandwiched between Portugal and Cyprus.

The southernmost Albanian town of Saranda along the Albanian Riviera is one of the Poles’ favourite destination with their number estimated at 12,000 a year, according to Saranda Mayor Florjana Koka.

The Poles also manage some of the best hotels in Saranda which has contributed to the promotion of Albania through a more aggressive campaign.

Polish media have also played an important role. In a recent article, Metrocafe.pl., one of Poland’s most popular newspapers, suggests visiting Albania in a feature titled “Time for Albania.”

It is no surprise that Albania has been ranked as the ninth most popular destination among Poles as it lies in the Adriatic and Ionian seas, the Polish paper wrote.

“Poles are choosing this country increasingly, because this is an extremely picturesque country and with a new base of hotels,” Mr. Rydel, from the Polish tourist agency “biurosilesia.pl.”

The competitive prices with a week of vacation estimated at €400 also make Albania competitive compared to other more expensive regional destinations.

“This unique Southeast European country has access to the Adriatic in the west and the Ionian Sea to the south and boasts affordable prices,” say Polish portals.

A record 59,000 Polish tourists visited Albania last year while their number for the first three quarters of this is estimated to have exceeded 60,000.

Some 60 Polish journalists visited Albania this week on a promotional tour, visiting some of the country’s best destinations including the three UNESCO World Heritage sites of Butrint, Gjirokastra and Berat and the famous rocky and sandy beaches along the Albanian Riviera.

With a population of 38 million, Poland is a huge potential market for Albania’s emerging tourism industry.

Czech tourists have also shown increased interest in visiting Albania in the past few years.

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, according to the tourism ministry.

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.

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.

Last year’s opening of the Sazan Island, a former military base some 20 kilometers from the coastal town of Vlora, to local and foreign tourists for the first time in 70 years, and a Cold War secret bunker outside Tirana that the former communist regime had built underground decades ago to survive a possible nuclear attack, also attracted a lot of interest among international media and visitors.

In late 2015, prestigious French newspaper Le Figaro placed Albania as one of the top five global destinations for 2016. Featuring a picture of the ancient Rozafa castle in the northern city of Shkodra, Le Fiagaro said Albania will surprise everybody just like it did with its first-ever qualification in a major football competition such as France 2016.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 30, 2016 10:35