Poles lead Albania tourist growth for second year in row

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 26, 2018 11:58

Poles lead Albania tourist growth for second year in row

Story Highlights

  • The hike in Polish interest to discover Albania is also confirmed by PZOT, the Polish Tour Operators Association, which has rated Albania among the top seven popular destinations for 2017-18, with a 3.8 percent market share in Poland's outbound tourism

Related Articles

TIRANA, Dec. 26 – Poles led Albania tourist growth for the second year in a row, with their visits to an emerging destination such as Albania having quadrupled in the past six years.

More than 152,000 Poles visited Albania during the first eleven months of 2018, up 35 percent compared to the same period in 2017, ranking Poland the sixth most important host of foreign tourists to the country, according to INSTAT, Albania’s state-run statistical institute.

The hike in Polish interest to discover Albania is also confirmed by PZOT, the Polish Tour Operators Association, which has rated Albania among the top seven popular destinations for 2017-18, with a 3.8 percent market share in Poland’s outbound tourism.

Albania was quite an undiscovered destination for Poles until 2013 when only around 35,000 visited the country, but their numbers almost doubled to 66,000 in 2016 and rose to around 115,000 in 2017 when they first made it to the ten of foreign tourists visiting Albania, according to INSTAT.

Authorities report that about 5.4 million foreign tourists, dominated by ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Macedonia, visited the country in the first eleven months of this year, a 17 percent hike compared to the same period last year.

However, experts say the number of foreign tourists also includes Albanian migrants resident in Italy and Greece, the hosts of about 1 million Albanians, 300,000 of whom have obtained Italian and Greek citizenship since the early 1990s exodus following the collapse of the country’s hardline communist regime.

“Practically what we currently call foreigners, if carefully analyzed are Albanian-speaking markets from Kosovo, Macedonia, or migrants in Greece, Italy, Germany etc. The real highest number of foreigners is from Poland with about 100,000 tourists or only about 5 percent of the total,” Kliton Gerxhani, a travel expert who heads the Albanian Tour Operators Association, has said.

While lacking direct flights throughout the year, regular charter flights from Warsaw, Gdnask and Kotowice have linked Poland to Albania from June to September during the peak tourist season in the past few years. Thousands of Poles also travel to Albania by car.

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.

“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 last summer, 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.

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 Albania’s Skanderbeg era when the two nations aligned against the Ottoman Empire.

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 booked some of the best hotels along the country’s Adriatic coast last summer.

The travel and tourism industry was one of the key drivers of the Albanian economy in 2018, generating around €1.5 billion in income in the first three quarters of 2018 when the country was visited by around 5 million tourists, with a key contribution to Albania’s expected 4 percent GDP growth for 2018, according to Albania’s central bank and INSTAT.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times December 26, 2018 11:58