New Prague-Tirana direct flights set to increase Czech tourists to Albania

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 19, 2017 12:56

New Prague-Tirana direct flights set to increase Czech tourists to Albania

TIRANA, June 19 – The number of Czech tourists visiting Albania is set to register a considerable boost this year after direct flights linking Prague to Tirana were launched few days ago.

Travel Service, the largest Czech carrier, will be offering regular flights during the tourist season under the SmartWings brand.

“There will be two direct flights every week on Mondays and Thursdays until the end of September,” say the Czech embassy and the Tirana International Airport in statement.

Some 14,000 Czech tourists visited Albania in 2016, a majority of whom on Travel Service but also using other tourist charter flights from Prague.

“Albania has become a very popular destination for Czech tourists during the past few years. Many Czech people also travel individually to explore not only the coastline, but also Albanian mountains,” says the embassy.

Known for their passion for Albanian mountains and adventure tourism, the number of Czech tourists to Albania has almost doubled compared to the early 2010s.

Company representatives say a reduction in airport charges would allow Travel Service to operate the Prague Tirana flights the entire year while the increase in the number of flights would benefit tourist exchanges between both countries and promote Czech-Albanian business contacts and ties.

Airport charges in Albania’s sole international airport are considered too high making the operation of low-cost carriers difficult, resulting in Albania having one of the region’s highest ticket prices.

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.

Back in late 2014, 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.

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.

Earlier this year, Dutch and Hungarian low-cost carriers also launched direct flights with Albania.

While patriotic tourism from ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro still accounts for more than half of tourist arrivals, the geographical location of tourists visiting Albania has also extended to Western and central European countries.

The tourism industry has been one of the country’s fastest growing in the past few years, attracting more than 4 million tourists and generating about €1.5 billion, about 8.4 percent of the country’s GDP in 2016 alone.

Closed to tourists for about five decades until the early 1990s when the communist regime collapse, Albania offers a miscellaneous picture of coastal and mountain tourism and has been attracting more and more foreign tourists in the past decade being nicknamed as “A new Mediterranean love” and “Europe’s last secret.”

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 19, 2017 12:56