A new bill for tourism in Albania

A new bill for tourism in Albania

Tirana, 5 May 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The Albanian government has sent to parliament a bill regarding tourism. This is an incentive which has taken several years to be prepared and at last, it’s expected to be approved and take effect this year.

The scope of the law is to promote Albania as an attractive tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists. The aim is also to develop a sustainable tourism, in order to enable those who offer tourist services to meet the demands of tourists, in a safe and secure environment.

The draft is currently being discussed in the Parliamentary Committees (photo).  The bill complies with the EU directives and brings several novelties, which are not provided in the current law on tourism.

Eduard Shalsi, head of the Committee for Trade in Parliament, says that the bill aims at creating the legal framework which backs tourism, as the main sector of economy, which creates new jobs, contributes in reducing poverty and offers possibilities of profits and growth, especially for rural communities.

But this bill does also have other objectives. Shalsi mentions them: “Albania’s promotion as a tourist destination, the creation of a sustainable tourism all around the year and environmentally friendly, the growth of the number of tourists, the growth of the quality of services, reduction of informality and the creation of the data base”.

In contrast to the current law, the new law provides a clear division of powers for institutions which are responsible in the domain of tourism and the division of powers between the central and local government.

The new bill also leads to the creation of the fund for the development of tourism.

This bill is expected to regulate the business of tourism, as subjects that exert tourist activities will be licensed and hotels will be categorized through stars.

Minister of Economic Development, Tourism, Commerce and Enterprise, Arben Ahmetaj says that this bill is a good start. “The new bill will not make miracles, but it’s a good start for tourism. It will offer more possibilities for the exploitation of beach territories”, the minister says.

The main scope of the new bill is to increase the quality of services. “This bill establishes the basis for the standardization of hotels based on the number of stars. Their standardization increases the quality of services”, Mr. Ahmetaj says.

The minister suggests that hotels in Albania must receive foreign assistance for their classification.

Ahmetaj is also surprised about the fact that “Albania still doesn’t have a five star resort”.

In fact, up until today, no such resort has been built. Some efforts have been made to built so called resorts, but they are far from the standards of the famous resorts, especially in the beaches of Greece and Turkey.

With the new bill, the Albanian government is expecting this chaotic situation to change. Among others, the aim is to have tourism all year round and the government is expecting to achieve this by increasing investments through renting out state own lands with the price of one Euro for 99 years.

Tourism in Albania is still in modest conditions. Hotel prices are high and they offer very few services. Many people don’t see why they must pay more to receive less.

A young man from Skopje says something meaningful: “I have spent holidays in Greece and Turkey. To spend a week in a luxurious resort, I have spent no more than 350 Euros, and this included accommodation, food, beverages, outings and other services. This concept doesn’t exist in Albania. If one wants to spend holidays in the Albanian beautiful coast, one must seriously take into account the fact that a room in the south, in Saranda or Dhermi is no less than 80 Euros a night or 600 Euros a week, and this only includes a modest breakfast. One must pay up to 50 Euros to stay on the sand and then there’s food, beverages, outings, etc. The way tourism functions in Albania, doesn’t make me want to come back again”. /ibna/