Butrint, Albania

Albania wants more tourists from India

Albania has nearly three million people, but gets nearly four times more tourists – last year 10 million people landed in the country. But Foreign Minister Igli Hasani says Albania can host more.

Some 50,000 Indians landed in the country that is known in India as the land that sent to them Mother Teresa. But again, Hasani says, more would be welcome to climb its mountains, frolic on its beaches, swim in its lakes and look down into its canyons.

He would like to run even direct flights between Delhi and Tirana.

But not just tourists. He would also like Indians to invest more. “Our aim is to further strengthen economic ties with India as we see immense potential. We need to create the necessary mechanisms to make things happen,” he said after meeting a few industry captains and entrepreneurs in Delhi where he had landed to take part in the Raisina Dialogue. Plans are afoot to open an Albanian embassy in Delhi; currently honorary consult-general Dikshu Kukreja represents Albania in India. 

Atithi Devo Bhava, similar to the “besa” in Albania

Kukreja too would like more Indians to visit Albania where they have their version of Atithi Devo Bhava in the form of besa which literally means ‘guest is god’. “Albanian language traces its roots in Sanskrit and has a strong connect with India. The beauty of the country and peace loving nature of Albanians go hand-in-hand.” 

Albania, already a member of NATO, has been knocking at the doors of the European Union for membership. Hasani is looking for business partnerships in infrastructure building, information technology, agriculture, mining and manufacturing. 

Hasani feels that the past has not been kind to Albania. “We had the fiercest form of communism; we were called the North Korea of Europe,” said he. But the past three decades have been an era of openness and freedom, which Albania is now fiercely defending. “We had 33 years of democracy. We condemned Russia’s aggression on Ukraine from day one, and have been supporting Ukraine’s defensive efforts militarily and otherwise.” 

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