March 4. 2024. 5:06

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Albania witnesses almost 100% tourism increase in January


Albania’s tourism sector is going from strength to strength, even in ‘off-season’ according to statistics from January that show an almost 100% increase in visitor numbers compared to the same month in 2022.

INSTAT, the Albanian data statistics agency reported that 377,211 foreigners visited Albanian in January, compared to 194,237 in 2022, an increase of 94.2%. The number of domestic tourists also increased from 259,835 in January 2022 to 456,239 in 2023.

In 2022, some 7.5 million people visited Albania, an increase of over 32% from the year before.

Tourism in Albania has witnessed significant growth over the last few years, appearing in glossy international travel magazines, attracting music festivals and spawning hundreds of glowing reviews from Instagram and YouTube influencers.

Closed off from the world for almost 50 years, Albania has been working hard on its image to attract tourism to its nearly 300 miles of coastline, rolling countryside, forts and castles, and diverse range of mountains and lakes.

But while tourists flock to the Balkan country, Albanians are leaving in droves.

Since the fall of communism, some 1.4 million people have left with 700,000 emigrating in the last decade. This is having a knock-on effect on the tourism sector which is struggling to employ staff in cafes, restaurants and hotels.

Of businesses surveyed in the UNDP in Autumn 2022, 56% believe the lack of labour to be the main issue hampering Albania’s expansion, while 26% view the lack of skills as the problem.

Some three-quarters of those surveyed said they had to make do with staff shortages at the peak of the tourist season when they would typically have to increase employees by 35%, Monitor reported.

The findings come after Albania was recently ranked by the World Tourism Organisation as one of the countries with the best tourism recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, with arrivals and revenue from tourism largely surpassing pre-COVID levels.

As for which nationalities are most likely to visit Albania, Spanish and then British tourists topped the list, knocking Poles and other Eastern Europeans out of the top two as in previous years.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)