Posted: 9/20/21 | September 20th, 2021
Albania is simply barely on the vacationer map. Whereas its coastal cities have their share of luxurious resorts, and whereas loads of holidaymakers get together in cities like Sarande, Albania’s tourism sector is nothing in comparison with its neighbors.
It solely sees round 6.four million guests per 12 months, in comparison with Greece and Croatia, which get 34 million and 19 million respectively.
Nonetheless, previous to the pandemic, tourism in Albania jumped 8% from 2018 to 2019. From 2014 to 2019, it noticed a 67% improve in tourism numbers, from 3.6 to six.four million.
That’s an enormous improve in a brief time period.
My travels by way of the nation confirmed me that the writing is clearly on the wall: Albania goes to be the subsequent Croatia. In the identical means tourism defines Croatia, so too will it outline Albania.
First, the backpacker scene is firmly established in Albania. There are many hostels, and backpackers speak about it steadily as a must-visit vacation spot as a result of it’s stunning and low-cost. (Backpackers love low-cost locations.)
And mass tourism at all times follows the backpackers.
Whereas Albania continues to be a “bizarre” place to go to for many non-Europeans, COVID has modified that barely, particularly for People. Albania was one of many few nations that solely had a brief lockdown, and so, with yearlong visas, many People flocked there to work remotely through the pandemic.
However across the nation, indicators are pointing to a tourism future marred by unsustainability. Whereas speaking to tour operators, hostel house owners, journalists, and random of us, there was a continuing fear that the Albanian authorities doesn’t have the foresight and transparency to deal with what all of them acknowledged was coming: an explosion of vacationers.
A variety of this ties into Albania’s historical past. It’s a younger democracy, nonetheless shaking off the communist and post-communist years. The ’90s and early 2000s have been turbulent instances, and corruption continues to be rife. There are big improvement tasks occurring in Tirana which can be clearly fronts for cash laundering — a variety of buildings are going up and few of them have individuals in them.
Many journalists advised to me that the federal government nonetheless retaliates in opposition to those that converse out by inflicting members of the family to lose jobs (or, in the event you’re a foreigner, by deportation), which, in fact, retains lots of them from talking out.
There have actually solely been two prime ministers; the present one simply received reelection on suspicious grounds. There additionally by no means was a reality and reconciliation fee, and lots of who have been a part of the previous regime are nonetheless in authorities immediately.
As for poor planning, there’s additionally at the moment a freeway mission in Gjirokaster that may demolish a part of the previous city, and valleys are being flooded for electrical energy with none environmental assessment.
Given the grossly underfunded tourism board (which doesn’t even have sustainability has one in every of its key pillars), all of the corruption, and uncontrolled improvement, I’m fearful.
In my discussions with locals, there appears to be little hope that the present authorities would do a lot to cease overtourism. (Notice: I tried to succeed in out to the Albanian tourism board for quotes and feedback however my requests went unanswered.)
One simply wants to take a look at Sarande for example of an excessive amount of tourism and too little infrastructure to deal with it. The seaside is end-to-end lodges and resorts, with wall-to-wall garden chairs; the bay is crammed with boats; and the roads are at all times clogged. Each inch of nature is claimed for enterprise. It’s a free-for-all. (As you may guess, I didn’t like my time there.)
So what’s a traveler to do?
So much, really.
Whereas I do know I’m considerably preaching to the choir right here relating to sustainable tourism, shopper motion can have a huge effect on the path a rustic simply getting its footing in tourism takes.
Because the saying goes, it’s arduous to vary a horse mid-race. After tourism infrastructure is constructed and an economic system has been constructed round it, it’s arduous to modify it to a sustainable mannequin. There are too many vested pursuits who will resist change. One simply has to see how arduous it was for Dubrovnik, Amsterdam, Thailand, Iceland, and numerous different locations to vary.
The pandemic allowed all these locations to reset. With tourism closed, they may reopen and begin from scratch. Many locations used the absence of vacationers to give you sustainability plans and rethink their vacation spot advertising and marketing (it stays to be seen if matters will change in observe).
Now, as we re-enter the world and journey picks up once more, you, the traveler, can do quite a bit to make sure we reduce the impact of overtourism. With regard to Albania, we are able to be certain tourism develops in the precise path.
Patronize operators/lodges/hostels that favor the surroundings (you may electronic mail them earlier than you ebook if their web site doesn’t have a lot info). Keep away from environmentally harmful excursions. Give suggestions to operators and lodges that push them to be extra sustainable. Keep away from staying at massive resorts (they’ve a giant environmental impression).
The extra suggestions you can provide, the extra individuals will change. (In any case, turning into an “eco-tourism hotspot” is sweet advertising and marketing and means even higher enterprise margins.)
As a result of, in Albania, success is at all times copied. Albanians have a mentality of “if works already, let’s simply do extra of that.” For instance, in Gjirokaster, there are 4 hostels. Three copied the unique, Stone Metropolis, in design and choices.
So, leverage that to make for a extra sustainable future. Present Albanians that you really want “good tourism” by doing these matters talked about above.
Furthermore, listed below are some firms and organizations that assist “good tourism” in Albania:
- Safety and Preservation of Pure Surroundings in Albania (NGO)
- Ecotour Albania (tour firm)
Contact them earlier than you go for info and a listing of sources that can assist you make sustainable and ecofriendly tourism choices.
Albania is at a essential juncture. It’s beginning to get widespread however nonetheless a little bit off most individuals’s radar. When tourism numbers hit a sure level, the nation can go the mass-market route or it might probably go the sustainable but nonetheless profitable route (individuals can pay a premium to be ok with going inexperienced).
In Albania, proper now, it might probably go both means.
With its stunning shoreline, majestic mountains, and (present) cheap costs, Albania goes to be the subsequent massive matter. The writing is on the wall. It’s going to be the subsequent “it” spot. We are able to nudge the tourism business in a greater path and will help the nation keep away from a variety of the pitfalls of tourism — however provided that we shoppers demand it.
E book Your Journey to Albania: Logistical Ideas and Methods
E book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to discover a low-cost flight. They’re my two favourite engines like google as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned. Begin with Skyscanner first although as a result of they’ve the largest attain!
E book Your Lodging
You may ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the largest stock and greatest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they persistently return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost lodges. My favourite locations to remain in Albania are:
Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances prior to now. My favourite firms that supply the very best service and worth are:
- SafetyWing (greatest for nomads)
- World Nomads (most complete)
- Insure My Journey (for these over 70)
- Medjet (for extra evacuation protection)
Searching for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the very best firms to make use of while you journey. I listing all those I take advantage of to economize once I’m on the street. They are going to prevent cash while you journey too.
Need Extra Data on Albania?
Make sure you go to our sturdy vacation spot information to Albania for much more planning ideas!