Travel and tourism are among the most important sectors for the Albanian economy, both in monetary and employment terms. In 2019, the sector contributed $3,430 million, equivalent to 20.3% of Albania’s GDP, positioning it as one of the main contributors to the country’s economic development.

Home to castles, archaeological sites and a pristine coastline, Albania has a lot to offer visitors. Yet the Balkan nation has never held a prominent position on the international tourist map, with its neighbour Greece and other local competitors like Croatia typically attracting many more travellers.

However, in recent years Albania has claimed its well-deserved position on the Mediterranean travel landscape by improving its tourism infrastructure and air connectivity and enhancing its marketing efforts to draw more attention to its abundant offering of tourism products.

The strategy has proved successful because, until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, visitor numbers were growing at an incredible pace, far above the global average. Like all destinations, its performance was then severely affected by the emergence of the global health crisis.

Interestingly, in 2022, the growth trend picked up right where it left off in 2019 and Albania surpassed the regional average by growing by 5% in arrivals. On the one hand, Albania has managed to capitalise on the increased demand for alternative, less-crowded sun & beach destinations following the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, it has expanded its market access by establishing direct air connections with key markets in Europe and overseas, primarily through low-cost operators. In fact, Albania is one of the few destinations in Europe with a double-digit increase in international seat capacity compared with 2019.

What stands out is that Albania’s strong growth and post-pandemic performance have not relied on a single source market but several – a wise move considering the crisis and resultant border closures and travel restrictions. Albania achieved robust market diversification by tapping into major European markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France as well as attracting interest from the United States and the Middle East.

Albania has shown how, by revamping its tourism strategy and destination marketing plus improving accessibility by air, a lesser-known destination can shine and increase its international arrivals. As the year 2023 has kicked off,  bringing with it the hope of further travel market normalisation, the outlook for this diverse and unspoilt destination looks bright.

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2023-02-06T11:22:10+01:0006/02/2023|All, DMO|
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