Italian Prime Minister Leads Tourism Wave in Albania

Italy Boosts Albanian Tourism

Saranda beach, Albania. Credit: Ivshin365/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Is Albania emerging as the new hotspot in Europe? Recent figures show a recent surge in Italian visitors, even Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s prime minister decided to holiday there last month.

A local waiter in Saranda, a picturesque coastal town in Albania, had to apologise to recent patrons due to the scarcity of dishes left on the menu, according to Reuters, Wednesday, August 23.

Italian Influence In Albania

‘Italians have eaten everything because Italy is occupying us again, this time for good,’ he remarked with a hint of humour, highlighting the overwhelming presence of Italian visitors in the region. This sentiment resonates with some locals, reminding them of Italy’s fascist occupation during the Second World War.

Tourism’s Economic Impact

Fast forward 80 years, and Italians now significantly contribute to Albania’s thriving tourism industry, which made up 20 per cent of the nation’s GDP last year. This is particularly noteworthy in a region where economic challenges persist.

This contribution is predicted to grow this year, according to Tourism Minister Mirela Kumbaro. Many Italians reach Albania via budget flights or ferries, journeying just 50 miles across the Adriatic Sea.

The allure of Albania for Italians and other Europeans lies in its untouched sandy shores, breathtaking landscapes, and notably lower costs compared to established Mediterranean destinations like Italy and France.

‘For years we heard a lot of talk about Albania – good beaches and also without any doubt the cheap prices, and this year with other friends we decided to organise a trip here,’ commented Italian traveller, Daniela Cudini.

Aurora Marku, who manages a quaint sandy beach near Saranda, observed, ‘At the moment here we can say that 80 per cent could be foreigners and the rest are Albanians.’

Recent statistics reveal a 25 per cent surge in tourist arrivals this July compared to July 2022. From January to July 2023, over 5.1 million international visitors, including more than 430,000 Italians (a 50 per cent increase from the previous year), explored Albania. This is in contrast to the 3.9 million total visitors in the entire previous year.

Albania’s history of nearly 50 years of isolation under the Communist regime of Enver Hoxha, during which the nation was closed off to outsiders, makes its current openness even more remarkable.

Italy’s Prime Minister

Among the numerous Italians who holidayed in Albania in July was Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. She even settled the bill for some fellow Italians who left a restaurant without paying, leading a local restaurateur to jest: ‘Now we know where to complain – we have Giorgia.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals. When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.