According to the latest data from the Institute of Albanian Statistics (Instat), the number of foreigners who visited Albania in the first six months of 2019 grew by 11.3 percent, compared to the same period last year, amounting to over 2.1 million, of which about 630 thousand only during last June, an increase of 27 percent. Visitors from Kosovo represent the largest group of foreign visitors to Albania. Their number, about 608 thousand people in the first 6 months of the year, was equal to 25% of the total number of tourists who came to the country. In second place in terms of the number of visitors were Macedonians, with more than 277 thousand people, or +5.5%. Following the visitors from Greece, with more than 251 thousand people, +8 percent. In fourth place the Italians, with over 159 thousand visitors, or 9.4 percent more. Only last June, the Italians arrived in Albania were more than 41 thousand, +8.7% compared to the same period last year. The strongest growth was recorded among Swiss tourists, +34.6%, although in total there were just under 19 thousand visitors.
According to data from the Albanian Institute of Statistics (Instat) in January 2019, the number of foreigners who visited Albania in 2018 grew by 15.8% compared to 2017, amounting to over 5.9 million people. About 35% are Kosovo citizens, whose number increased by 19.6%. This is followed by those from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with 680 thousand more visitors, only one percent more, and from Greece, 552 thousand, or 13% more. In fourth place the Italians, in all 436 thousand, or 20% more. The highest growth was recorded among Polish tourists (+34 percent), equal to 153 thousand visitors.
Tourism in Albania is increasingly becoming an important sector for the country’s economy. In 2017 the number of foreign visitors was more than five million, while the number of their expenses was about 1.7 billion. In the first nine months of 2018 alone, revenues from the tourism sector amounted to EURÂ 1.47Â billion, 12% more than in the same period in 2017. In the third quarter alone, which is also the summer season, foreign visitors would have spent EURÂ 683Â million, or 16% more on an annual basis. The economic impact has been revealed in many areas. According to Instat data for the third quarter of 2018, sales in the hotel business grew by 37 percent year-on-year. The number of employees also rose by 21.3 percent, while the wage bill rose by 20.9 percent. The number of travel agents was also positive, with sales up 9.5 percent, while the number of employees rose by 2.6 percent.
The trade sector also performed well, with sales up 4.5%, the number of employees up 6.5%, and the wage fund up 8.6%. In support of the tourism sector in Albania, the European Union and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are preparing to finance an innovative program to rebuild roads and aqueducts in the tourist areas of the country. The program also provides funding for small businesses operating in the tourism sector and for the protection and restoration of the cultural and natural heritage in those areas. Half of the 100 million funds will be granted in the form of a soft loan, the rest free of charge.
Only last December, two well-known hotel groups signed agreements for two hotels in the center of Tirana. Hyatt has reached an agreement with the Albanian group Kastrati, which owns the hotel facility managed until last year by Sheraton, and provides not only for the management by Hyatt but also for investments that will transform the current facility into a 5-star hotel within two years. Prior to Hyatt, it was Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel group, that signed an agreement for a new hotel in downtown Tirana, with Albstar, the Albanian construction company, which is building a 24-story, 100-meter-high building, part of the new national stadium complex designed by Italian architect Marco Casam.