WTTC: Albania’s tourism industry set to register one of Europe’s fastest growths
- The London-based organization estimates the travel and tourism industry directly supported 85,000 jobs in 2016 in Albania and expects employment numbers to increase by another 34,500 to 120,000 over the next decade
TIRANA, March 30 – Albania’s emerging tourism industry is set to register one of the region’s highest growth in the next decade in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment, investment and exports, according to a report by London-based World Travel & Tourism Council, WTTC.
In its latest Economic Impact Research report, the WTTC ranks Albania 26th out of 185 countries for its travel and tourism long-term growth prospects from 2017 to 2027, leaving behind almost all regional competitors who have a longer tradition in the tourism industry.
The 2017 report shows the contribution of the travel industry to Albania’s GDP is forecast to grow by an average of 6 percent annually over the next decade, while employment is expected to grow by a slower pace of about 3 percent.
The travel and tourism contribution to total capital investment and exports is also forecast to grow by 5 to 6 percent, among Europe’s fastest growth rates for 2017-2027.
The WTTC says the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Albanian economy was at about U.S. $1 billion in 2016, accounting for 8.4 percent of the GDP and is expected to increase by 6.2 percent annually to reach $2 billion to 10.8 percent of the GDP by 2027.
The sector’s total contribution including wider effects from investments, the supply chain and induced income impacts was at $3.2 billion in 2016 or about 26 percent of the GDP and is expected to grow by 6.1 percent to (€6.1 bln) annually 33 percent percent of the GDP in 2026.
The London-based organization estimates the travel and tourism industry directly supported 85,000 jobs in 2016 in Albania and expects employment numbers to increase by another 34,500 to 120,000 over the next decade.
The direct contribution to employment includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services excluding commuter services. It also involves the activities of the restaurant and leisure industries directly supported by tourists.
The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment including wider effects from investment, the supply chain and induced income impacts in 2016 was 267,000 jobs or about 24 percent of the country’s total employment.
The WTTC says Albania generated about $1.77 billion in income from foreign tourists in 2016 and attracted about $200 million in investment.
Despite the global ever-increasing and unpredictable shocks from terrorist attacks and political instability, to health pandemics and natural disasters, the 2017 outlook remains positive, and over the longer term growth of the travel and tourism sector will continue to be strong so long as the investment and development takes place in an open and sustainable manner, says the World Travel and Tourism Council.
A rapidly growing industry
With tourism on top of the agenda as one of the emerging drivers of economic growth, Albania has been actively promoting its coastal, mountain and cultural heritage tourism in a bid to become a year-round destination.
Investment in tourism resorts has recently revived by offering investors state property in priority areas for a symbolic Euro 1 for up to 99 years in return for investment and job creation, although long-standing disputes over unclear property titles remain a huge barrier to attract foreign investors.
The country boasts dozens of sandy and rocky beaches along its 476 km coastline stretching through the Adriatic and Ionian, the most famous of which are found on the Albanian Riviera south of the country.
Three UNESCO World Heritages, the Butrint archaeological park and the historic towns of Gjirokastra and Berat, in southern Albania, also unveil the rich cultural heritage in Albania, a gateway to the Mediterranean boasting a mix of Illyrian, Roman, Greek and Ottoman civilizations.
Earlier this year, Albania was rated as one of the top seventeen global destinations to visit in 2017 by the prestigious CNN news portal amid other renowned destinations such as the U.S., Canada, France, Denmark, China and Australia.
“The tiny Mediterranean country — once one of the Cold War’s most forbidding Stalinist redoubts — has been Europe’s best-kept secret for the better part of two decades. Sunny, cheap and with mile after mile of pristine beaches and unspoiled wilderness, Albania has made much of what it has after it emerged blinking into the daylight of freedom in the ’90s,” writes the CNN.
In mid-2016, the National Geographic portal also rated Albania among the top 10 destinations that deserve more tourists.
“A burgeoning tourist industry—centered around its meticulously preserved UNESCO-listed Ottoman towns, including Berat and Gjirokastra, and the stretch of land now known somewhat archly as the Albanian Riviera—now brings in almost 3.5 million tourists a year,” wrote the National Geographic.
Albania offers a miscellaneous picture of coastal and mountain tourism and has been attracting more and more foreign tourists in the past few years being nicknamed as “A New Mediterranean Love” and “Europe’s Last Secret.”
The 2015 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.
Travel income slightly rose to a historic high of €1.35 billion in 2015 when Albania was visited by 4.1 million foreign tourists, according to Bank of Albania and INSTAT data.