Promotions Boost Albanian Tourism as Visitors Increase

State-financed promotions, combined with those of private operators and apartment owners using online booking platforms, is believed to be a reason for the increasing number of foreign tourists in Albania.  Albanian tourism experts believe that the growing numbers of holidaymakers choosing to spend their summer vacations in the country is mainly a result of promotions. Matilda Naco, director of the Albanian Tourism Association, told BIRN that this summer was one of the best in terms of numbers of foreign tourists. "I believe the number one reason why Albania has been favoured is mainly because of promotion. State institutions and also private operators have raised their budgets when it comes to country presentations at world tourism exhibitions. Also, the level of presentation has become more professional and efficient," Naco said. "It is a fact that Albania is still one of the least discovered countries in Europe, so curiosity also plays a role," she added. The minister of Economy and Tourism, Milva Ekonomi published figures on suggesting that 24 per cent more foreign tourists chose Albania as a destination this year compared to 2015. "The numbers speak for themselves," the minister wrote on Twitter. The data showed the numbers of tourists crossing the country's land and sea borders from June 1 to August 15 Naco said that local entrepreneurs have done a good job this year promoting their apartments via increasingly popular online booking platforms like Airbnb. "In 2013 the number of apartments listed for rent at Airbnb was only 35, now it has soared to thousands while the majority of properties in the coastal towns and cities are registered on the platform," she said. Brunilda Licaj, an expert in tourism and lecturer at the Aleksander Moisiu University in Durres, also told BIRN that the added promotion in Albania has brought positive growth in the number of foreign tourists this year. Licaj also believes that the difficult situation in Turkey has contributed to growing numbers of tourists visiting the Balkans. Tourism in Croatia also grew during 2016. In the first seven months of 2016, there were 45 million overnight stays - five million more than 2015. Of this number, 26 million overnight stays were registered in July alone. Bulgaria attracted 3.1 million tourists in the first half of 2016, reporting a 15 per cent increase as compared to the same period in the previous year. In June, the country witnessed a 28 per cent year-on-years growth in the numbers of foreign tourists compared to June 2015. The lower price of accommodation compared with other countries in the region is also considered by experts to be a factor in the growing number of tourists in Albania this year. According to the platform, the price for a night in a four-star hotels in Vlora or Saranda during August starts from 50 euros and rarely exceeds 150, while in Budva in Montenegro, the price for this category start from 75 euros and goes up to 200. Prices go even higher in Croatian coastal towns of Dubrovnik and Split, starting from 130 euros and going up to 220.  
Read More

Once, he was sentenced to death; now, he'll be a Catholic cardinal

More than 50 years ago, the Rev. Ernest Simoni was thrown in jail and sentenced to death by firing squad, by a communist government bent on cracking down on the Catholic Church in Albania. On Sunday, Pope Francis announced that he had picked Simoni, a survivor of the political violence, for the most elite circle of leaders in the church. Simoni is on the list of 17 priests tapped to join the College of Cardinals, the highest position in the church, save the pope. Cardinals are the pope's closest advisers and the ones who pick a new pope when it comes time. Simoni was the only one of the 17 chosen who does not currently serve as an archbishop; Francis is elevating him from his role as a Franciscan priest in the Archdiocese of Shkodrë-Pult, Scutari, in Albania. Before tapping Simoni and the 16 archbishops, including three Americans, to become cardinals, Francis met Simoni in 2014 - and the Albanian survivor moved him to tears. "To hear a martyr talk about his own martyrdom is intense," Francis said to reporters when he got back on his papal plane to Rome that night, according to Catholic News Service. Catholic News Service said that Simoni became a priest in 1956, during the communist rule in Albania that was hostile to religion of any kind. Two of his superiors were fatally shot, and he was arrested in 1963 while he was celebrating the Christmas Eve Mass. In prison, CNS said, Simoni was tortured for refusing to denounce the church, and sentenced to death by firing squad. He instead served 28 years of hard labor in mines and sewage canals. He also says he covertly continued to act as a priest, offering Masses and hearing confessions from his fellow prisoners. Simoni, now in his 80s, returned to the public priesthood after the communist government fell in 1991.   Source: The Journal;-now-he'll-be-a-Catholic-cardinal
Read More

First promotion of Belgrade held in Tirana

TIRANA – The Tourist Organization of Belgrade has brought together tourism companies from the Serbian capital and organized the first promotion of Belgrade for the Albanian market, a TOB statement said. The promotion was held at Hotel Tirana International and attended by many high-ranking guests, senior officials of Tirana and Albania and representatives of the tourism sector and media. Albania’s Deputy FM Selim Belortaja expressed satisfaction with the promotion of Belgrade in Tirana and announced the next step will be a promotion of Tirana in Belgrade. The possibility of traveling to Belgrade and Air Serbia’s direct flights network, with emphasis on the flights from Belgrade to New York, were presented. The promotion was supported by the Serbian Embassy in Tirana, the Tourist Organization of Serbia and Air Serbia, Serbia’s national carrier.   Source: InNews
Read More

  • Albania Property Group interview with

    Ilir Konomi, Director of Albania Property Group: «We help foreigners who want to invest in Albania with best quality service» Albanian real estate market is on the rise as more and more private buyers and investors are turning their attention to this still untouched by mass ... Read More

  • New Law on Tourism prepared by Albanian Parliament

    Albania drafts new law on tourism to increase revenues Jul 21,2015 TIRANA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- A draft law on tourism was scrutinized by the Albanian Parliamentary Committee on Monday. The Draft law "On Tourism" and a package of measures compiled by the Ministry of Economic ... Read More

  • Albania is ‘stand-out’ tourism and foreign property destination

    Rising visitor numbers, new flights and low living costs are boosting overseas property demand in Albania, says a leading resort chief. Albania chalked up a 167% increase in foreign visitors in Q3 2014, topping one million, according to the country’s national statistics office, INSTAT. Just two years ... Read More