Albania launches new ‘Be Taken’ tourism campaign with appeal to overcome prejudice

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 27, 2019 17:32

Albania launches new ‘Be Taken’ tourism campaign with appeal to overcome prejudice

TIRANA, Feb. 27 – In an appeal to Northern Irish actor Liam Neeson to come and discover Albania on his own following his notorious comments about the Balkan country a decade ago in the award-winning ‘Taken’ movie, Albania has launched its new promotional campaign ahead of the peak tourist season.

“Hey Liam, we love watching your films, and we think you are very talented. But we got a bone to pick up with you. You’ve made people of the world think that we Albanians are criminals, thugs, and always on the look out for daughters to kidnap. Well, maybe it’s time for us to show you our specific set of skills, take you on a plane because we think you will be taken by Albania,” says a popular Albanian comedy actor in a newly released promotional video.

Dubbed “Be Taken by Albania,” the promotional video features popular Albanian destinations and tourists enjoying themselves amid appeals to get to know Albania’s history, traditional handicraft, castles, fjords and valleys, glacial lakes, canyons and flamingos surrounded by the warmth and friendliness of all the locals.

The new campaign follows an earlier “Albania, Go your own way” that has been branding Albania’s emerging tourism since 2014 leading to more and more tourists discovering Albania as “a new Mediterranean love” and “Europe’s last secret”.

“We’ve been taken by Albania. Now it’s your turn!” foreign tourists say in the video.

Quoting Kosovo-Albanian actor Arben Bajraktaraj who starred as Marko from the northeastern Albanian region of Tropoja at the ‘Taken’ movie, tourists are urged to come and prove that “the house of an Albanian belongs to God and to the guest.”

Speaking at the launch of the campaign this week, EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca, invited foreign tourists to overcome media or movie prejudice about Albania and be taken by Albania to leave with a smile on their face and the desire to come back.”

“How not to be taken by the beautiful Ionian Riviera, the majestic mountains of the North, the rich cultural heritage and history of the country, the delicious food and warm hearted people? Not to forget the vibrant city life of Tirana,” said Ambassador Soreca.

An Italian national, Soreca is featured in the promotional video, rafting on the Osumi Canyon and saying “I’ve been taken by the beauty of the Osumi Canyon. Now, it’s your turn!”

Rolf Castro-Vasquez, the CEO of Tirana International Airport, who has been living in Albania for the past 14 years, says the people are the most surprising and positive thing he has discovered about Albania.

“When you come to a new country, you always think about how you are going to be treated, or what the culture is. In Albania, the people are very kind and friendly, exactly the opposite of what the average European thinks,” he is quoted as saying in an interview with the ‘Taken by Albania’ portal.

“The country is safe, and also the hospitality of the people is simply amazing. I would invite anyone to come to Albania to explore its treasures: first of all the beauty of its nature, and its rich cultural heritage, and not forgetting also economically, Albania has much to offer foreign investors,” says Castro-Vasquez who regularly rides his motorbike around Albania.

Albania, where tourism is turning into a key industry, is described as “a place where routine will melt under the midday sun, and where you’ll reinvigorate a zest for the undiscovered and experience the grit of nature beyond the confines of a map.”

“In a Europe that’s been tamed and explored, with rules and order around every corner, Albania is the last defender of the rugged. A place where the mountains have no roads, the rivers flow wild, and the beaches are unspoiled by the concrete promenades of the West,” says the promotional portal.

The travel and tourism industry has grown to become one of the key drivers of the Albanian economy, officially generating €1.7 billion, some 12 percent of the country’s GDP, from more than 5 million tourists.

Albania has made it to a series of top under-the-radar and affordable destinations for 2019, hinting the country’s emerging and fast growing travel and tourism industry is set for another golden year, although a tense political situation in the run-up to the June 30 elections could have some negative effect unless everything goes smooth.

The most important ratings come from prestigious Lonely Planet and booking.com, but also a number of travel writers, recommending Albania as a still off-the-beaten-path and budget destination.

Several outdoor tour operators in the country offer hiking, rafting, biking, horse riding and birds watching adventures in the country, while cross-border tourism is gaining an upper hand with the opening of several mountain hiking trails.

The communist past is also what fascinates tourists about Albania, which was cut off from the rest of the world under a hardline Stalinist dictatorship.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 27, 2019 17:32