“Now Albania is trendy,” Tourism Minister tells Italian newspaper



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The Albanian Minister of Tourism and Environment, Mirela Kumbaro, has given an interview to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, focusing on Albania as a trending destination for visitors from Europe, where the number of Italian tourists has significantly increased in recent years.


By Davide Carlucci/Interview with the Sorbonne-educated linguist, also the Minister for the Environment in the golden year of the land of eagles.

Davide Carlucci: Minister, has tourism in Albania been a real success this year? Have you invested heavily in promotion?

Mirela Kumbaro: Tourism is one of our government’s priorities. We have given this sector the opportunity to showcase its full potential and diversity. As a result, people from all over the world are curious and want to discover Albania. Our Ministry has not had to spend a single cent on media promotion. It is thanks to bloggers, summer festivals, and events, some of historical significance, like the declaration of the Vjosa River as the First National Park of a Wild River in Europe. These are our best promoters. I believe this is the best and most sustainable form of marketing.

Davide Carlucci: How much have visitor numbers increased?

Mirela Kumbaro: In 2022, Albania welcomed 7.5 million foreign tourists. A remarkable figure for a country with 2.8 million inhabitants. In the first six months of 2023, we have had 3.4 million foreign tourists visit us, which is 33% more than the same period in 2022, making it the best year in terms of numbers. For this reason, the World Tourism Organization has ranked us among the countries with the fastest tourism recovery after the pandemic.

Davide Carlucci: Which are the most visited places?

Mirela Kumbaro: There is a great curiosity for the beaches along the southern Riviera. There are also many tourists who want to visit UNESCO heritage historical cities like Gjirokastra and Berat, archaeological sites, indigenous markets like Korça, agrotourism, and protected areas. Gastronomic and enological tourism is also growing, and it must be said that here we are following the example of Italian excellence.

Davide Carlucci: How much do Italians contribute to this “boom”?

Mirela Kumbaro: In the last 5 years, 2.5 million Italian visitors have frequented Albania. In 2022, there was an increase in the trend of arrivals from Italy, over 610 thousand, which is 72% more than in 2021. And in the first half of 2023 alone, Albania has hosted over 310 thousand Italian visitors, which is 57% more than the same period the previous year.

Davide Carlucci: Many people are drawn by the low prices. However, they are already rising here as well. Which path do you want the country to take in the future: to aim for luxury or to remain popular?

Mirela Kumbaro: I am the Minister of Tourism, but also of the Environment. This is perhaps a unique case in Europe: we want to manage tourist flows by protecting nature and biodiversity. Our vision is precisely this: sustainable tourism and elite tourists who stay and spend. Here, you can already find international hotel brands. Until six years ago, none of these names were in Albania.

Davide Carlucci: There are those who fear that all this pace is leading to the destruction of the coasts, and Albania is not ready to handle the tourism explosion.

Mirela Kumbaro: The development of Albanian tourism will not focus solely on the coastline, but on the entire country and throughout the year. This is why we are committed to increasing the area of protected zones to 30% of the territory by 2030. Moreover, with incentives from state policies, we aim to expand agrotourism activities, so that farmers not only produce but also transform their products into an art of hospitality. This is our recipe for managing the flows.

Davide Carlucci: Between Italy and Albania, there are many cooperative relationships. Do you think you can work together for sustainable tourism management, or do you see Italy as a competitor?

Mirela Kumbaro: We are not competitors but collaborators. We have learned a lot from Italian excellence in hospitality and cuisine. We are deeply grateful, and it is now time to work together in the interest of both countries.

  • You can read the original interview of Albanian Tourism Minister Mirela Kumbaro here.
  • You can read the La Repubblica article on the Albanian tourism here.