2020 was a difficult year for tourism in Albania, as the pandemic hit hard this sector, vital to the country’s economy. After an increase in numbers of tourists in 2019, 6.4 million, foreign tourist arrivals shrank in 2020. This was due to the border closures and other restrictive anti Covid-19 measures, Top Channel reports.
INSTAT data show that foreign visitors who came to Albania during 2020 reached 2.6 million, with a sharp decline of 3.8 million tourists fewer than in 2019.
Although the figures show about 900 thousand fewer visitors from Kosovo, the latter saved Albania’s tourism industry. They account for about 2.2 million of the total number of foreign visitors in 2020.
The number of tourists from neighboring countries and the region such, as North Macedonia and Montenegro, was the half of those coming in 2019. Meanwhile the sharpest decline was for visitors from Poland and Spain. There are over 90% fewer visitors.
The implementation of restrictive measures stopped Albanians to travel abroad. The data shows 2.9 million people traveled, down from 5.7 million Albanians who went on holidays abroad in 2019.
Cautious optimism for 2021
Despite the blow to the tourism industry in 2020, the president of the Albanian Tourism Union, Rrahman Kasa is optimistic about the recovery of the sector in 2021. But he cautiously says that everything will depend on the pandemic situation.
“We cannot talk about the return of tourists as in 2019, but we hope for a better year than 2020. I am referring to the signals and ongoing contacts we have with partners and the number of contracts. In the past two weeks things have started to move a bit. Reservations started. They are mainly from central European countries, such as Poland and Czech Republic. There are also from the Nordic countries,” Rrahman Kasa, president of the Albanian Tourism Union says.
He appeals to the authorities to help the tourism sector. A dedicated aid package for tourism, according to him, would save the sector from collapsing.
“Most travel agencies remain closed because they fail to keep employees, pay rent and taxes. What would be more favorable and a concrete help for travel agencies, tourist guides or transport are grants. They should be based on the turnover or activity of the past years,” Kasa says.