Poles lead tourist growth as Albania climbs among top travel destinations

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 24, 2018 13:55

Poles lead tourist growth as Albania climbs among top travel destinations

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  • The hike comes at a time when Albania climbed to the seventh most favorite destination for Poles for the 2017-2018 season in a ranking published by PZOT, the Polish Tour Operators Association, after first making it to the top ten for 2015-2016 when it ranked ninth in terms of popularity

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TIRANA, July 24 – Poles are leading the hike in Albania tourist arrivals for a second year in a row as Albania has climbed to one of the top 7 most popular destinations there and more charter flights directly link Poland’s major cities to Tirana.

The ninth largest nationals of foreign tourists visiting Albania, the Poles rank first when it comes to annual growth rates in an ongoing upward trend for the past few years.

Data published by Albania’s statistical institute, INSTAT, shows some 21,000 Poles visited Albania during the first half of this year, about a quarter more compared to the same period last year.

Prospects for the remaining half of the year are optimistic as the year’s first half arrivals were negatively affected by a rainy June and stronger growth is expected in the peak July and August months at a time when charter flights from Warsaw, Gdnask, Kotowice will be regularly linking Poland to Tirana from June to September 2018.

The Poles made it to the top ten of foreign tourists visiting Albania last year, with a record 74 percent hike to about 115,000 tourists, according to INSTAT.

The hike comes at a time when Albania climbed to the seventh most favorite destination for Poles for the 2017-2018 season in a ranking published by PZOT, the Polish Tour Operators Association, after first making it to the top ten for 2015-2016 when it ranked ninth in terms of popularity.

PZOT says Polish interest to visit Albania for 2017-2018 climbed by 75 percent compared to a couple of years ago, ranking Albania the seventh top destination with a 3.2 percent share among 20 destinations globally.

Poles are mostly interested in the southern Albanian Riviera offering a mix of rocky and sandy beaches and ancient sites dating back to ancient Illyria, the predecessor of Albania, as well as Roman and Greek heritage sites, but there is also huge interest in discovering northern Albania and the emerging mountain tourism there.

A combination of quality beaches, affordable accommodation units, good food and hospitality are key factors in bringing Poles to Albania.

Cheap prices compared to more established regional destinations with an earlier tradition in tourism compared to Albania which was cut off from the world for about half a century under a hardline communist dictatorship also play a key part in attracting Poles and other central and northern Europe tourists.

“We are back to Albania because the people are great, prices are much cheaper compared to Greece where we earlier went on holiday,” a Polish tourist told a local Albanian TV, visiting Albania on a bike tour for a second time, this time exploring the southern Albanian Riviera after a mountain tour north of the country a couple of years ago.

Students are also among the biggest Polish visitors to Albania.

“We have been to various countries and last summer we were in Croatia. But this time we read that Albania is supposed to offer ideal holidays and that it would be great. In fact it is true and it’s very cheap, which is a good thing for us students who can’t afford to spend much,” another tourist says.

Poles are also reported to have become the third largest buyers of apartments along the Albanian Riviera after Norwegians and Russians, according to real estate agents.

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

Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz who visited Tirana earlier this year said tourism is great potential to bring closer the two countries that have eight decades of diplomatic relations.

“I am aware that tourism is an important sector of the economy. Albania is a beautiful country and Poles appreciate it, which is confirmed by an increasing number of my compatriots among tourists visiting your country,” minister Czaputowicz told Tirana Times in an interview ahead of his Albania visit last May.

Polish ambassador to Albania Karol Bachura says Albania has become a new discovery in the old continent.

“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 earlier said.

“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.,” the Ambassador says.

Albania and Poland established diplomatic relations in 1937 soon before WWII but ties between the two countries date back much earlier during the 15th century under Skanderbeg’s era when the two nations aligned against the Ottoman Empire.

Considered an EU success story, Poland has offered to share its pre-accession experience with Albania, which has been striving to open accession talks since mid-2014 when it became an EU candidate country.

Albania had some 1.9 million foreign tourists visiting the country during the first half of this year, a majority of whom ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro in what is often referred to as a segment of ‘patriotic tourism.’

Nordic tourists have also been visiting Albania in much bigger numbers during this year, with regular charter flights bringing tourists from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland who have booked some of the best hotels along the country’s Adriatic coast until next September.

The travel and tourism industry was one of the key drivers of the Albanian economy in 2017 when authorities say it generated a record high of €1.7 billion in income, up about 12 percent compared to a year ago as the country was visited by more than 5 million foreign tourists.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 24, 2018 13:55