TIRANA, January 26
Any official or private campaign for tourism in 2020 in Albania was crushed by the coronavirus pandemic. The recent data published by the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSAT) show how big the impact of the virus on international arrivals was. Even though travel restrictions were eased during summer and Albania never applied a mandatory negative COVID-19 test on arrival, international arrivals dropped by 58.5 percent compared to 2019.
Despite the huge damage the pandemic caused in the hospitality and tourism sector, INSTAT’s figure coincides with the most optimistic out of three scenarios forecasted by the UN World Tourism Organization in May 2020. UNWTO scenarios pointed to possible declines in global arrivals of 58 percent to 78 percent for the year.
Looking at the latest data covering 2020, the actual outcome for Albania was closer to the lowest worst-case outlined by the UNWTO. Yet, given the fact that the economy is heavily dependent on the influx of international tourists, the impact was unparalleled.
Based on INSTAT data, outbound and inbound tourism took a rapid nosedive. The number of international citizens’ arrivals was 2.6 million, while outbound departures of Albanian passport holders were 2.9 million or 50.9 percent lower compared to 2019. (The numbers count visits or departures, not single individuals).
Kosovo kept Albanian tourism afloat
In terms of origin countries, Albania saw the highest number of international arrivals from Kosovo 1.3 million. The number accounts for half of the total arrivals in 2020. It was followed by North Macedonia 370,135, Greece, Italy, and England.
In terms of travel motifs, the only category that reported an increase in international arrivals to Albania were those who visited for business or professional reasons. About 115,324 international citizens, or 14 percent more than in 2019, traveled to Albania for business during January-December 2020.
Photo Credit: Tirana International Airport