Thursday, July 18, 2024

Should Albania Be On Your Travel List?

For most millennial and Gen-Z travelers, Albania isn’t the first destination they’d consider when planning a vacation. The small country opened its doors to tourism in 1990 and travel specialists refer to it as the Meditteranean’s hidden gem. That said, should Albania really be on your travel bucket list? 

Unbeknownst to most, Albania has a lot in store for travelers and explorers looking to experience something new and fresh. Sitting south of Montenegro, Albania is a prime destination for picturesque coastlines, rich culture, unique architecture, and delicious food.

With its decaying, medieval castles, nearly untouched beaches, and fairytale-like landscape, Albania made Lonely Planet’s 2023 Best Places To Travel list. However, despite the virtual accolades, the country has seen a steady decline in economic opportunity causing locals to leave. While visitor numbers are increasing, some experts wonder if the tourism industry can help Albania evade an emigration crisis.

Using Tourism As A Stepping Stone

Ksamil Beach in Albania
Photo Credit: Frans Sellies

Travel experts are suggesting that Albania use tourism as a stepping stone to boosting the country’s economy. 

There are many examples of nations around the world following this same model. In 1951, Greece kicked off a major campaign designed to build and facilitate tourism infrastructure around the nation. Led by the Greek National Tourism Organisation, the initiative partnered with the best architects, designers, and developers to curate a new image to present to travelers. 

Known as the Xenia Hotels Project, this initiative transformed Greece into a Mediterranean travel hotspot. By the end of the 1960s, the country’s annual tourist rate increased by 1,098 percent. 

Like Greece, Albania’s neighbor Montenegro has begun making similar changes to profit from tourism. Since the restoration of its statehood in 2006, the country has started positioning itself as a travel favorite on the peninsula. Over the past few decades, Montenegro has reinvested funds into its tourism opportunities as well as hosted performances for some of the biggest names in entertainment. Travel and tourism now account for 25 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the International Trade Administration. 

With Albania making Lonely Planet’s list, it’s likely to land on more tourists’ radars. However, the country faces another problem as travelers began to head its way — a lack of workers.

Is Albania The Next Mediterranean Travel Hub?

Even if Albania were to be the next Mediterranean travel hub, the country has been facing an emigration crisis. Currently, Albania is one of the least visited countries in Europe. The lack of opportunity, money, and resources has led many of the county’s youth to leave. 

Some places in the countryside are considered ghost towns, while others like Kukësi have seen over half their population leave for better opportunities. Under current circumstances, Albanian hotels say they would need 35 percent more staff in order to accommodate tourists during peak season, according to the United Nations Development Programme.  

Experts are hoping the industry can inspire more Albanians to stay and develop a fresh industry. Rich with all the fixings necessary for a dream-like getaway on the coast, travelers are waiting to see what the Albanian tourism industry has in store for the summer travel season.

RELATED: Here’s How To Road Trip Through Europe On The Cheap


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