Why Albania is among the top 10 holiday destinations for Poles

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 2, 2017 12:54

Polish ambassador to Albania Karol Bachura

  “Would you like to spend your holidays in a special way? Are you looking for a country to enjoy an extraordinary atmosphere, a country with cultural diversity? Are you dreaming about all-inclusive holidays in a warm coastline and a country that has just started opening up to the tourism world?

If yes, Albania is the right destination for you: a spectacular coastline next to the Ionian and the Adriatic, a scenic destination with excellent hotels, with magic Balkan culture and food and a mild climate.

What could you want more?

Holidays in Albania will make you happy with the virgin landscape, the centuries-old historical monuments and a friendly atmosphere. Albania is ideal for perfect holidays.”

That is how Poland Travel, the Polish national tourist office, describes Albania which has emerged as a surprise destination for Poles in the past couple of years, making it to the top 10 most popular.

Polish ambassador to Albania Karol Bachura says Albania has become a new discovery in the old continent, attracting about 70,000 Polish tourists a year.

“I think Albania is relatively close, it has great potential as a tourist destination, a wonderful climate and it’s a safe country,” Ambassador Bachura has told a local Albanian TV.

“Polish tourists are present all around Albania, but the majority of them certainly prefer the coastline, especially the southern part of the country. However, there are tourists seeking new forms of tourism such mountain hiking, motorcycling etc.,” Bachura has told Vizion Plus TV in an interview.

Data shows the number of Polish tourists to Albania rose by 30 percent to about 70,000 in 2016 and is expected to register another hike this year as the number of charter flights to Tirana has increased and more and more Poles are visiting Albania in their cars considering a distance of about 2,000 km that takes about 20 hours. Prospects remain optimistic considering Poland’s huge market of about 38 million residents.

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

However, only about 2,500 Albanians travelled to Poland last year, apparently negatively affected by lack of direct flights linking the two countries and a considerably smaller population in Albania.

Poland’s state-run airline LOT has earlier expressed interest to launch direct flights with Tirana as Albania emerged a top 10 destination for Poles.

Asked about what Albania can do to further develop its emerging tourism industry, Ambassador Bachura says settling the long-standing unclear property rights issue is key to paving the way for foreign investment.

“I think the potential you have with a coastline of 350 km is great and this is certainly one of your biggest assets. The more investment you have, the more employment opportunities, higher wages and exchanges you will have. You are in Europe and a European country, you have been isolated for so many years and I think it’s time for you to open up,” says the ambassador.

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.

The communist past is also what fascinates tourists about Albania, which was cut off from the rest of the world under a Stalinist dictatorship for about five decades until the early 1990s.

Albania and Poland will be marking the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.

However, relations between the two peoples date back to the 15th century when a Polish-Hungarian court recognized Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero who ousted the Ottomans for more than two decades.

Polish geologist Stanisław Zuber discovered oil and minerals in Albania  1927-1947 before he was killed after World War II by the communist regime of late dictator Enver Hoxha. The author of Albania’s first geological map in use even today, Zuber has been immortalized with a monument in the southern Albanian town of Kuçova.

Polish Father Alfons Tracki was one of 38 martyrs killed by the Albanian communist regime from 1945 to 1974 who were beatified last year at St. Stephen Cathedral in Shkodra, northern Albania.

The Albanian-Polish Friendship Society and Albanian Chopin Society also contribute to strengthening the ties, organizing events.

More recently, Albanian international striker Armando Sadiku left Switzerland to join Legia Warsaw, one of Poland’s most successful clubs, and has also scored his first two goals since moving in mid-July.

In December 2016, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo visited Albania to reconfirm Poland’s support to Albania’s EU bid and urged stronger economic cooperation.

Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has been one of the bloc’s most dynamic economies and success stories.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 2, 2017 12:54