Tag Archives: home

Is it safe to travel to Albania?


Streets of Gjirokastra

Since returning from an extended stay in Albania and publishing my guide to visiting the country, I’ve been receiving regular emails from readers wanting to know more.

Surprisingly, for me, one of the most common questions I’m asked is whether it’s safe to travel to Albania. I admit to finding this question a little perplexing. Aside from a brief period of unrest in 1997, Albania hasn’t been in a conflict since WWII.

Even during the Communist period when the country was mostly closed to outside visitors, it was still possible to safely travel around the country.

Random acts of violence are practically unheard of and even pickpocketing is uncommon.

As with all European nations (with the current exception of parts of Ukraine) Albania is completely safe and welcoming of tourists. To answer certain reader questions, Albania is safe for children and safe for dogs.

You might find it reassuring that Albania will likely join the EU in the next few years. The only reason they are late to join is due to issues of corruption, not safety.

Ksamil Beach

In some ways I feel like Albania is safer than most other European nations. Albanians are not always used to seeing tourists in their country. This spurs a certain curiosity and questions as to what you’re doing there. This is often followed by offers of help and invitations for drinks or meals. It’s not unusual for locals to come and say hello and make sure you’re getting the best out of your visit.

Butrint National Park

That’s not to say you should take unnecessary risks.

The biggest risk in Albania comes from the driving conditions. Albanian drivers aren’t exactly known for their patience and adherence to the law. But to be honest that’s a problem in much of the Balkans and Southern Europe.

Driving in Albania

Another issue faces adventure travellers who don’t take enough water and other supplies or those climbing in remote mountain areas. There have been a few incidents but these have mostly been caused by unprepared or inexperienced travellers.

Dodgy taxi drivers is a worldwide phenomenon and although annoying can easily be avoided by taking metered taxis.

What about solo women travellers? Admittedly I have never travelled solo in Albania although I know many who have. Most were in their 20s or early 30s but some baby boomers too. All had great experiences and encourage others to travel independently in Albania.

So what is it that makes travellers fear Albania? It could be their reputation for drug smuggling, human trafficking and the mafia. All of which exist in other countries and none of which affect tourists.

I guess more than anything it’s the fear of the unknown. Albania doesn’t often come up in top travel destination lists and many people couldn’t even point it out on a map. Where is Albania? What are the people like? Is it dangerous?

I can’t think of any other reason why people would think Albania isn’t safe. Albania is European. It’s safe.

Source: www.rearviewmirror.tv

Albania achieves historic finals

Before their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying campaign, Albania had appeared in just two UEFA final tournaments at any level: the 1982 Under-18s and 1994 U16 Championship.

As soon as they opened with a 1-0 win in Portugal, however, it was clear that Albania were genuine contenders for a place in France. And although home losses to Portugal and Serbia delayed the big moment, their 3-0 victory in Armenia on Sunday stamped the nation’s historic finals ticket.


Giovanni de Biasi, Albania coach
This has been a big success, that’s obvious. I’m happy we’ve won a ticket to EURO 2016. To tell the truth, the score [in the 3-0 victory in Armenia] didn’t matter; the important thing was to win, get the three points and take second place in the group. Armenia played well, but we were stronger. Every victory makes us happy, but this one is the most valuable.


Key stats
Final tournaments: had never qualified
Coach: Giovanni de Biasi
Leading scorers: all-time – Erjon Bogdani (18); current – Hamdi Salihi (11)
Most appearances: all-time – Lorik Cana (87); current – Lorik Cana (87)

Record EURO appearances
Overall: Fotaq Strakosha (29)
Final tournament: none

Record EURO goals
Overall: Edmond Kapllani (5)
Final tournament: none

Albania Government announces 1 bln USD project

The bidding process for the tender of economic Spitalla area is open and transparent, assured yesterday the Minister of Economy of Albania. Minister Ahmetaj, presented the procedures, deadlines, evaluation criteria and selection of winners.

Spitalla Free Zone is a project through which Albania Government seeks to attract over $ 1 billion investment and to open 15 thousand jobs for the next 5 years. The interest was high among big businesses, representatives of Chambers of Commerce, commercial attachés, embassies, etc. Ahmetaj said that the tender which was opened two weeks ago, will close on 28 October.

The Minister assured the tax benefits to businesses that will be part of the economic development zone in Spitallë Durres. The developer will have full guarantee from Albania Government, that it will benefit the 99-year contract. Meanwhile business requires more time to this project. “I think that is long enough for an investor for a project so big that make business plan and have clearly identified all sources of funding,” said Egla Ballta, EBRD representative. “I believe, we all believe. We consulted the 65 days plus 4 months ahead. We believe that developers are interested enough, to have a very good project,” responded Ahmetaj.

Another concern of business is that the tax facilities. Nikolin Jaka, head of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the neighboring countries give more fiscal incentives for free zones. But the government has another assessment. “Macedonia has 50 tax convenience and reimbursement of social security 50. And even have a certain amount of 3 thousand euros for each job. Serbia offers tax incentives for 10 years of tax. We are still in the areas of technology and economic development and not a free economic zone said Nikolin Jaka.

Albania Economy – fight against informality

Action against informality in Albania Economy will not reduce consumption


Albania economy

Minister of Finance Shkelqim Cani

Ministry –  2.5% inflation that the government had anticipated was not confirmed, instead but proved only 1.3%. This difference gave effect to income.

Taxes –  “From 100 lek more on the economy from rising prices, the VAT is 20 Lek. In fact, the increase was only 50 Lek and VAT, 10 Lek.

Bank –  According to the governor of the Bank of Albania, Gent Sejko, “the average inflation in 2015 is expected to fluctuate around the level of 1.9%”.

Gent Sejko

Governor of Bank of Albania, Gent Sejko

Low inflation affects the revenue decline, but the consumer benefits from lower prices. This is the explanation provided by the Minister of Finance, Shkelqim Cani. An estimated budget of over 2 billion Lek lost only by the decline in inflation in the first six months of 2015. Mr.Cani answered reporters a day after signing the agreement with the Swiss government to grant a support program for public debt management. When asked whether action against informality could reduce consumption, he gave a different answer from the Bank of Albania. Minister Cani believes that the payment of bills reduced private consumption. And on the other hand increased budget revenues and increased consumption in the form of public expenditure of the government. That led at 2.82 per cent growth in the first quarter. Bank of Albania stated that the payment of overdue energy bills lowered consumption of the population. However, minister Cani admitted that at the moment inflation is a problem. Currently, the level of 1.3%, according to him, is far from target. Bank of Albania hosts a fluctuation about 3% by the end of 2017-s. Minister Cani was asked about the new Eurobond worth of 300-500 million euros that the government had planned to issue in September.  He said that currently the market conditions are not favorable. But the deadline for this action is up in November 2015.

The effect of inflation in Albania Economy

In his speech at the opening of the operation against informality, two days ago, Minister Cani said that 2 billion ALL missing due to rising inflation lower. “Inflation had anticipated that it would be 2.5%. Not confirmed the price increase that we had anticipated as a result of better development of the world economy. It proved only 1.3%; This difference gives us little income”, said Cani. For clarification of the public, Cani took an example. “If we had calculated that we had 100 lek more in the economy from higher prices, but VAT was imposed on 100 Lek will give 20 tax for fiscal authorities. In fact, it proved only 50 Lek. And well, that was not raised prices! Implemented 20% VAT on 50 Lek (no more than 100 lek), gives only 10 and not 20 Lek, revenues fell only from its effects”, explained Cani

The Governor of Bank of Albania

A day earlier, the governor of the BOA, Gent Sejko, reported on monetary policy. “Inflation fell slightly in July, due to the reduction in prices of fresh seasonal foods” he said. The decline in inflation of these products during the summer months are related to the growth of agricultural production in this period. Therefore, this factor is expected to have a transitional effect in Albania Economy. Prices of other items of the consumer basket has not changed significantly said the Governor. According to Sejko, the impact of these factors will continue to be present in the short run. “The average inflation during 2015 is expected to fluctuate around the level of 1.9%. However, our medium-term inflation expectations have not changed. Inflation will continue to rise further. And over the next two years and will be back steadily in our target of 3% by the end of 2017 promised Sejko.

Agreement with Switzerland 

Ministry of Finance and the Swiss government sign agreement on financial assistance of 450 thousand dollars for the project. “Maintaining macroeconomic stability is ranked at the top of the list of priorities of the government”, the minister said.”Debt and cash management will be improved with new electronic systems,” Cani said. Ambassador Christoph Graf said that reporting of accurate data on debt, paves the way for a better management and decision-making.

Inflation –  Inflation is rising prices. To assess the stability of prices in Albania Economy, the Bank uses the Consumer Price Index.

Objective –  The objective of the Bank of Albania is to maintain price stability. Bank of Albania intends that the annual increase in consumer prices in the country to be at 3%.

Albania Football Team one step closer to European 2016

Albania Football Team is getting closer and closer to their dream for participation into the European Football Championship 2016.

Still not beaten, Albania is in 3rd place in their group.

Thousands and thousands of Albanian travelled to attend the match played in Copenhagen on the 4th of September. The roads of Copenhagen were filled up with “Red and Blacks” with the white traditional caps. Proud Albanians finally are enjoying and having great time in the streets of Danish capital city. Their teams is writing history by playing high class football with one target: participating in the Finals of European Football Championship 2016. No other national football team before them has ever reached in such position.

On Monday September 7th, Albania Football Team will play vs Portugal in Elbasan Arena in Albania.

Albania Property Group wishes best of luck to our football team.


Albania 1 Albania 2 Albania 3 Albania 4

Albania Among 20 TOP Destinations for 2015

With long stretches by the Adriatic, a fascinating history, and only a few inquisitive travelers, Albania is ripe for exploring in 2015.

More than 20 years after the fall of the country’s Communist regime, tourism here is still relatively low key, with Greeks, Italians and expat Albanians comprising most of the visitors to its cosmopolitan seaside resorts. Away from the coast Albania’s many delights include Ottoman-era villages, soaring landscapes, archaeological treasures, abundant wildlife and in rural areas an agricultural way of life seemingly unchanged for centuries.

On a recent visit to Saranda in the south of the country, I was struck by the sense that this proud nation is at a tourism crossroads. There’s a voracious appetite for construction, which in just 20 years has seen Saranda go from a small coastal town dotted with traditional terracotta-topped stone houses to a sprawl of high-rise HOTELS AND apartments.

Given Albania’s enviable location on the Adriatic, sandwiched between Greece and Montenegro, one wonders how much longer the country’s coastline will remain unspoilt. So, with a clutch of new tours for 2015, now is the time to go.

You should be guaranteed a warm welcome as well. When a waiter at a restaurant in Saranda overheard my English accent, my table was soon receiving the sort of VIP treatment that had other diners staring curiously my way.

During a road trip to the mountains I pulled up by the dusty roadside; women in brightly coloured headscarves immediately popped their heads out of windows to smile encouragingly.

“English?” I was directed to what would have once been the grandest house in the village, now a tumbledown ruin, to be met by the sight of an elderly woman tending a lovingly kept vegetable garden. On seeing me she surveyed her crop and selected a grapefruit-sized tomato that on tasting turned out to be perfectly sweet, ripe and distinctly Albanian.

How to go: A six-day escorted tour staying at hotels in Saranda, Berat, Tirana and Vlora costs from £1,478 per person, through Sunvil Holidays. The price includes return flights from Gatwick, breakfasts, lunches, entrance fees, private guide and driver


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 ago, it attracted 390,454 overseas tourists.

Visitor numbers from East Asia and Pacific grew 42.34% year-on-year and Western Europe by 24.7%.

Peter Walshe, Marketing Director of Albania’s first high-end resort, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa, says, “Albania is looking to be one of the stand-out destinations for travel this year and as the country begins to fully recognise the potential of its tourism market, this is sure to be just the beginning.

“In line with this, we are certainly seeing a growing number of enquiries from people interested in buying property in the beautiful coastal region of Lalzit Bay, for both their own use and having recognised its investment potential. Albania is proving a popular choice for buyers in a wide range of nations.”

Summer 2015 will see the launch of a host of new flight routes, linking Albania’s capital, Tirana, with more key cities in Europe and beyond.

A code-share deal between Czech Airlines and Travel Service will see new flights start between Prague and Tirana, and there will also be charter flights launched from Košice airport in Slovakia into Albanian capital. Kuwait investors are in talks about the potential launch of the new Albanian Airways plane which fly from Tirana t0 European countries that are home to expat Albanians.

With this expansion extending into autumn too, Italy’s Air Vallée is also set to start scheduled flights between the Italian destinations of Rimini, Salerno, Bari and Pescara, flying into Tirana, making the Balkan country even more accessible to its neighbouring nation.

The World Bank is preparing the Country Strategy for Albania for the next five years, which is focused on coordinating and maximising growth in the tourism sector.

The country is becoming renowned as an incredibly affordable destination to visit, which ensures it is becoming the top choice for a growing flank for property investors and holidaymakers, says Mr Walshe.

Numbeo’s Consumer Price Index, part of  its Cost of Living Index 2015, showed that Albania is some 40% cheaper than Italy which is just 45-miles across the Adriatic.

Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa is offering a range of beautifully-designed properties as part of a five-star, beachfront resort.

Properties are built at low density and to the highest of standards and range from one or two-bedroom apartments to three for four-bedroom villas with private pools. The properties, inspired by California’s beachfront real estate, are priced from €35,000-€360,000.

Lalzit Bay Resort is just 30 minutes from Durrës and features a beach club, range of top restaurants and bars, tennis courts and boutique shops.

Source: OPP.Today


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 Development and Tourism aim to transform the country’s tourism sector into a more competitive one in the region and more attractive to tourists.

According to it, it is predicted the establishment of local tourism development committees and territorial touristic service units which will coordinate the work on the ground regarding the development and improvement of touristic areas throughout the country.

As for investments in the touristic areas, the new law will provide financial easiness since the government will offer real estate properties for the construction of accommodating touristic buildings for a symbolic tariff of 1 euro per meter for 99 years.

The novelty of this new law, according to its compilers, is the creation of a national system for the classification and standardization of accommodating facilities in touristic areas and the issuance of classification certificates for each subject.

The aim to these changes is the improvement of the tourism sector in Albania and the increase of the number of tourists and investments as well.

According to Albanian Daily News, the Albanian government has predicted that more than 1.3 billion U.S. dollars will come as revenues from tourism sector in 2015.


Albania Property Group interview with EE24.com

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 tourism country. EE24.com met Ilir Konomi, head of Albania Property Group, to talk about the prices, the most popular areas among buyers, trends and prospects of the market of Albania for foreign buyers and investors.

About cities and prices

According to Albania Property Group, the most favorite places among foreigners are Vlore, Sarandа, Durres and Lalzi Bay.

Durres and Lalzi Bay are known for long sandy beaches, just 30-minute drive from Tirana International Airport. Durres is second largest city in Albania, and it has the country’s largest port. There are 2 ferries per day covering the distance of 100 km between Durres and Bari in Italy. Minimum prices are around € 450 per sq.m. In average – € 750-800 per sq.m.

Ilir Konomi, Albania Property Group: «We help foreigners who want to invest in Albania with best quality service» | Photo 1 | ee24

Saranda is a four-hour drive from the airport in Tirana, it is very close to Corfu (Greece) – only 30 minutes by boat (there are many low cost carriers flying directly to Corfu Airport from European cities). The seawater in Saranda is special. Many nice small beaches around which can be easily accessed by holidaymakers: Ksamil, Kakome, Lokove, Bunec etc. There are many good small beaches. The minimum price is around € 500 per sq.m. In average – € 800-850 per sq.m.

Vlora is located about 2 hours south of Tirana International Airport. It is famous for its beautiful beaches in the southern part of the city. Bay of Vlora is a meeting place of two seas: the Ionian and Adriatic. It’s a fantastic combination of sea and mountains with Llogara (a touristic attraction) approx. 1000 meters above sea level. The minimum price is around € 550 per sq.m. In average € 800-850 per sq.m.

  • Albania Property group has agents on the ground and they assist the foreign clientele while they take property tours from this Albania real estate company.

About investment prospects

Albania Property Group recommends as the most attractive place for investments the city of Dhermi (the heart of Albanian Riviera) and Lalzi Bay (just north of Durres city). At the moment there are several touristic resorts under construction in Lalzi Bay. They are situated just next to the beach which in some places is as wide as 100 meters with good quality sand.

Same is going on in Dhermi, where the first resorts are about to start construction during 2015. Indeed Dhermi has a good reputation among holidaymakers in Albania. It is known for its crystal clear waters, long beaches with pebble and sand at same time. Big mountains stretch along the sea on the back of the village (from Vlore all the way to Sarande).

Ilir Konomi, Albania Property Group: «We help foreigners who want to invest in Albania with best quality service» | Photo 2 | ee24

Sales geography

During our years in this business Albania Property Group haz worked with different nationalities. In Saranda, for example, we have served more to Norwegians, Finnish, Albanian emigrants, Italians as well. There is a presence of Russians in Saranda but there is more in Durres and Vlore. Proximity with Tirana Airport makes Durres and Vlore more attractive than Saranda. Besides we have worked with Ukrainians, Swedish, Swiss and English clients.

Legislative nuances of acquiring an Albanian property by foreigners

Legally there is no obstacle for foreign individuals to purchase real estate in Albania, with exception of land. However foreigners can register their legal entity and use it for transactions that involve the acquisition of land

The practical side of the deal is very simple: signing takes part in front of Public Notary. A good part of foreigners ask for legal assistance which we can provide with our internal lawyers. Besides, they also get advice from Albanian law firms specialized in property matters.

Buyers from Russia

Demand from Russian buyers is not very high, even though in the last 2 years we have seen an increase of the interested people from Russia to come and buy holiday homes in Albania. In general they buy homes near the sea (not necessarily in the front line). The budget of big majority of them ranges from €30,000 to €50,000.

If we talk about property types, they are mostly interested in 1-bedroom apartments in recently built residences ranging between 60-75 sq.m, or 2 bedrooms ranging between 80-100 sq.m.

Ilir Konomi, Albania Property Group: «We help foreigners who want to invest in Albania with best quality service» | Photo 3 | ee24

The costs of maintaining the property in Albania

Maintenance is about €10-12 per month in average residences in the average level of the residence, and in closed residences where there are more amenities like swimming pools, green areas and security companies the price will be higher, about €20-25. This includes coverage of common areas, cleaning, etc. The cost of electricity and water, in average is about € 50-60 per month.

Costs for living

Expenses in transport, food can surely depend on every client. It depends on the area where they go and the time when they go there. Dhermi is more expensive than Vlore and Durres. And on the other hand in the peak season Saranda can be more expensive than in low season. But I can say that if you go in a normal restaurant, 2 people can have very good lunch for €15.

Transportation between the cities is carried out by busses, or minibuses (up to 20 people). One ticket inside the city cost about €0.25. And as a reference price for 100 km we can set about €3.5.

The market situation for Property in Albania

The market gradually comes to life, it can be clearly seen on the example of the capital, Tirana. Selling prices in Tirana seem to have stopped downfall. There are some new constructions already started which is also a very positive sign that developers have re-started investing in construction again. That means that business sentiment in the area of construction is improving!

On the coastal areas like Durres city, Lalzi Bay (north of Durres city), southern of Durres city, Vlore, Riviera (Dhermi, Himara etc), and Saranda situation has always been better than capital city. In these areas prices have stagnated, but generally speaking prices did not decrease. Certainly, during the last 3-4 years it has been easier to negotiate final price with sellers. The financial crisis made it almost impossible for developers of Albania real estate to get bank financing after 2010. Only the “big fish” with very strong relations with banks, and fully covered with collateral could get bank finance. This is why most of them have been financing the new construction with client’s money.

Over the past two years the number of foreign buyers in the coastal areas has increased significantly. While Tirana market is driven by locals clients in vast majority of the cases, in the coast there is high presence of foreigners from Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Despite the crisis in Europe, the interest to our country is increasing, more and more foreigners want to invest in property in Albania. Europeans make comparisons with the proven path of EU integration of Croatia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro. Everybody knows the prices of properties before and after EU membership. Prices in Albania are at least 2 times lower than in these countries. Where in the European part of Mediterranean Sea you can find prices of €600-700 per sq.m of nice apartments with full sea views?

Work in crisis

Albania Property Group is structured from the start in such way that does not feel the effect of financial crisis: our continued marketing efforts, despite the bad times in foreign countries have given its fruits.

At the bottom of our success is our slogan “to help foreigners that want to invest in Albania with best quality service”. Maintaining a high standard of service has always been in our focus. The experience, deep knowledge of the market, and relations created with developers during our 8 years in real estate have provided us with the flexibility to meet all types of requirements that come from clients of different nationalities with totally different mentality and standards of living.

For example, the Norwegians look for minimum 2 bedroom apartments and as close to the sea as possible, the Polish would go for 1 bedroom not necessarily close to the front line, while for the Russians it does not matter whether 1 or 2 bedroom units, or how far is from the sea as long as it is within their budget and so on.

Besides, Albania Property Group diversified our products by bringing in the market the biggest portfolio of holiday rentals (apartments and villas for holidaymakers) near the beach of coastal Albania (Shengjin, Lalzi Bay, Durres, Vlore, Radhime, Dhermi, Qeparo, Borsh, Himare, Saranda, Ksamil), as well as holiday homes near the mountainous areas of Korca and the lake of Ohrid in Pogradec region. This is a new business line connected with tourism in which we are growing a lot faster than real estate. There is a lot of demand from Polish, Czechs, Russians, Slovaks, Norwegians, Italians and Ukrainians citizens.

Ilir Konomi, Albania Property Group: «We help foreigners who want to invest in Albania with best quality service» | Photo 4 | ee24

The forecast for 2015-2016. The future of the Albanian property market

The trend of foreigners purchasing real estate in Albanian coastline will continue to grow. In the mid term (2 to 3 years from now) I believe that the average price of a property in the coastal areas will gradually increase.

Still, in order that Albania reaches similar levels of real estate prices with Croatia and Montenegro it will need more than 10 years (if that ever happens indeed). Market is set for a gradual growth in prices and this is a positive thing.

In the coming years we will see a bigger percentage of the coastal properties targeting high income people. At the moment properties with total price over 100K Euro represent in the best case 5% of the total number of properties. While this ratio should change within next 3-4 years. Many villas and luxury apartments are projected in the resorts being built now and the ones to start soon, and lots of amenities inside those resorts (SPA;s, swimming pools, and other recreational) for high income people which at the moment are not at their best. Besides the growing demand, this will be 2nd most important factor that will cause the increase of the construction cost for 1 sq.m inside the resorts. And as a consequence even the selling prices to the end client.

“ Perfect purchase”

Ideal object does not exist. If we talk about investment and profitability, in an optimal object can be considered first-line apartment in Durres worth about € 100K. Now they can bring 6-7% of revenue, in the future more. Why Durres? It has everything – infrastructure, the city with its rhythm, and at the same time location near the sea and the airport in 30 minutes. This is the best combination for life in my opinion.

Ilir Konomi, Albania Property Group: «We help foreigners who want to invest in Albania with best quality service» | Photo 5 | ee24

The advantages to foreign buyers:

  • Best prices compared to neighboring countries with sea line (Montenegro, Greece, Croatia, and Italy).
  • 300 days with sunshine on the coastal areas.
  • Safe procedures for completing a real estate transaction.
  • All the transactions are signed in front of Public Notary, which are licensed from Ministry of Justice.
  • Every real estate contract signed at Public Notary offices are transferred to a central database in Ministry of Justice at the end of working day.
  • All payments of real estate contracts are made by international bank transfers.
  • Money goes to the Public Notary first and when the new title is issued under the name of the buyer the money will be transferred to the seller bank account.
  • Simple procedures in case that foreigners buy property in Albania. Anyone can buy, there is no distinction among different nationalities. It is enough that buyer has his/her passport with them.