Albania, Serbia Team Up to Boost Tourism

Despite their often tetchy relations, Albania and Serbia have signed an agreement of cooperation designed to attract more foreign tourists – and encourage their own citizens to visit each others’ countries.
Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic and Albanian Tourism Minister Blendi Klosi. Photo: Ervin Gjata/Pixabay

With neither Balkan country high up on most foreign tourists’ must-see lists, Albania and Serbia have agreed to jointly promote themselves abroad in fairs and other events to draw more visitors to both countries.

“Tourists from overseas visit several destinations [in the region] during one trip, so the task of every regional country is to find its own, visible, original spot,” Serbia’s Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, told BIRN.

The ministry said the agreement includes the two countries cooperating in international tourism organisations and promoting cooperation between organisations that work in the field of tourism.

To increase the number of tourists from abroad, the region has to become recognisable as a diverse destination, the ministry added.

The agreement was signed on Tuesday by Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic and Albanian Tourism Minister Blendi Klosi.

Ljajic said another objective of the deal was to increase the traffic of tourists between Serbia and Albania, which is currently very low.

“We have a lot to offer and believe exchanges of experts and the cooperation of our tourist agencies, chambers of commerce, and media reports from both countries … will contribute to a rise in tourism traffic in both directions,” Ljajic said.

He noted that only 3,000 to 5,000 Serbian nationals visit Albania each year, while the number of Albanian tourists in Serbia is so small that they are not even registered.

By contrast, in 2017, almost 17.5 million tourists visited Croatia, the region’s most popular destination by far, and about 12 million visited Bulgaria.

Albania’s Klosi said that all institutions in charge of tourism should receive more support after the agreement has been signed.

“The potential is great and should be exploited, and includes cultural heritage and the promotion of our way of life,” Klosi said.

Klosi added that he and Ljajic had discussed organising a joint meeting of tourism ministers from the region to create a joint tourism strategy that would include Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

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