Tourists in Albania have 'forgotten' to take their wallets

2024-07-10 11:09:14Biznes SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX

Although official figures speak of 4.5 million foreign tourists in the first six months of the year, in reality, by the sea, they feel much less.

The lack of tourists is bothering bars and hotels, as sunbeds remain unopened.

A year ago, Albania was a "top destination" for foreigners, who occupied the territory throughout the summer, while this year their presence seems to have faded.

Arben Çipa, chairman of the association of tour operators of Saranda, tells that this year there are more tourists in number, but it is their typology that has changed and reduced the demand.

Çipa says that Albania is densely populated by young people, which has changed the entire chain of consumption.

"As a number, we have increased this year, but the typology has changed and this has brought us question marks. More young ages have come and obviously their expenses are less. Young people do not focus on food. The difference is that they have chosen more apartments and not hotels. Apartments are more economical and have accommodation options for more people. This is how it works across Europe. Those who get apartments choose supermarkets. Fast food-ed are booming and not restaurants", says the head of tour operators.

Apartments of the AirBnB type are an obstacle for hotels, the tourist operators say anonymously, and that the law for their regulation has not yet had an effect on the ground. Even the inefficient state of public transport in Albania is a headache for businesses on the south coast.

The operators say that tourists in Albania cannot pay for a taxi to the south, which is more expensive than a plane ticket, and they go around Tirana and Durrës. 

However, Çipa admits that Durrës beach has fewer tourists this year, while Golemi is shining.

Regarding the lack of citizens of Kosovo, Çipa says that he does not feel it, also because the south has not been strongly in their focus. He expects that August and September will be the best periods for tourism, as it coincides with the end of the European championship and the usual holiday tradition.

"We are at the beginning of July and we want to believe that the end of the European championship will bring more tourists to Albania. In August, September, we will have other categories of tourists and it is expected to be confirmed. From the hotels, we see that there is a positive climate for the next two months. We need the middle and third ages more than the young. Young people must be in dedicated areas. If the new age prevails in a destination, it is the beginning of the end."

Even Besnik Vathi, the head of the association of tour operators, tells that there is an increase in the number of tourists, but those who come with minimal costs have increased.

Vathi says that there is an impasse with the official figures, which creates wrong ideas about tourism in Albania.

"When we hear those numbers, we expect an influx. Not every visitor is a tourist, but every tourist is a visitor. Figures are for visitors and are reported as tourists. During this year, we have a very high number of transit visitors, from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, who use Tirana airport. We count them at the entrance as tourists. They go as tourists somewhere else, and we even count them twice", says Vathi for

Tourist operators are also worried about the chaos created in the beach areas, where the administration of the plots no longer belongs only to hotels, but also to individuals who benefit from them in corrupt ways.

Management of bar infrastructure and hygiene is also a concern of hoteliers.

They joke that the stars for the hotels are given by the Prime Minister and that the scoring standards according to the conditions of service are not respected.

Representatives of tourism businesses in the country propose unifying prices between operators of the same level, enriching menus with traditional dishes and craft drinks, creating tourist packages with additional entertainment options, attracting more qualified staff, etc. They also require the intervention of the authorities to clean up the environment.