A significant part of Albania’s national income derives from tourism. In 2014, it directly accounted for 6% of GDP, though including indirect contributions pushes the proportion to just over 20%. Albania welcomed around 4.2 million visitors in 2012, mostly from neighbouring countries and the European Union. Albania was nominated number 4 global touristic destination by the New York Times. The number of tourists has increased by 20% for 2014 as well.
The bulk of the tourist industry is concentrated along the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea coast. The latter has the most beautiful and pristine beaches, and is often called the Albanian Riviera. The Albanian coastline has a considerable length of 360 kilometres (220 miles), including the lagoon area which you find within. The coast has a particular character because it is rich in varieties of sandy beaches, capes, coves, covered bays, lagoons, small gravel beaches, sea caves etc. Some parts of this seaside are very clean ecologically, which represent in this prospective unexplored areas, very rare in Mediterranean area.
The increase in foreign visitors has been dramatic. Albania had only 500,000 visitors in 2005, while in 2012 had an estimated 4.2 million – an increase of 740% in only 7 years.
Seventy percent of Albania’s terrain is mountainous and there are valleys that spread in a beautiful mosaic of forests, pastures, springs framed by high peaks capped by snow until late summer spreads across them.
Albanian Alps, part of the Prokletije or Accursed Mountains range in Northern Albania bearing the highest mountain peak. The most beautiful mountainous regions that can be easily visited by tourists are Dajti Mountain, Thethi, Tropojë, Voskopoja, Valbona, Kelmend, Prespa, Lake Koman, Dukat and Shkrel.
National parks and World Heritage Sites
There are a number of associations of the tourism industry such as ATA, Unioni, etc.
Albania is home to two World Heritage Sites (Berat and Gjirokastër are listed together)
- Butrint, an ancient Greekand Roman city
- Gjirokastër, a well-preserved Ottomanmedieval town
- Berat, the ‘town of a thousand and one windows’
The following is the UNESCO Tentative List of Albania:
- Gashi River and Rrajca (latter part of Shebenik-Jabllanica National Park) under primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and the ancient beech forests of Germany
- Durrës Amphitheatre
- Ancient Tombs of Lower Selca
- Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region
- Ancient City of Apollonia
Most of the international tourists going to Albania are from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Italy.Foreign tourists mostly come from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland, and the Czech Republic, but also from Western European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, and others.