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How many million tourists have come to Albania in 2023?

2024-02-21 07:27:00, Sociale CNA

How many million tourists have come to Albania in 2023?

In several debates in various television studios or in interviews, I have expressed my conviction that in the published statistics or in the various comments in the media, there are misunderstandings or wrong presentations regarding the number of foreign tourists entering Albania.

To be clearer in my opinion, I tried to rework and redo an analysis I had done for 2019, bringing it back once again with the figures just published by INSTAT for 2023.

I tried to find the number of foreign tourists entering during this period in these figures, but I really can't find it. The only figure I can find is that a total of 10,155,640 foreign nationals entered Albania. But can these all be called tourists, as they are usually mentioned in the media or in government statements?

To provide an answer, let's analyze the data, from published tables and from personal observations. To be more understandable, at the beginning, I will give the definitions for some terms that are used and should be used in national statistics according to the documents that the World Tourism Organization suggests to the authorities of the various countries of which we are also members.

This Organization defines the following terms:

- A traveler is any person who travels to a country outside his place of residence.

- A visitor is a Traveler who travels outside his country of residence for less than 12 months, for non-employment reasons.

- A tourist is a Visitor who travels outside his place of residence for more than 24 hours and for less than 12 months, for non-employment reasons.

- A same-day visitor is a Visitor who travels outside his place of residence for less than 24 hours for non-employment reasons.

Based on these definitions, I need to clarify the definitions for Foreign Traveller, Foreign Visitor, Foreign Tourist and Foreign Visitor of the same, of course for all those who enter Albania:

- A foreign traveler entering Albania will be considered any person entering Albania from a foreign country, where this person has a residence.

- A foreign visitor who enters Albania will be considered any Traveler who enters Albania from a foreign country, where this person has a residence and comes to stay for less than 12 months, for non-employment reasons.

- A foreign non-visitor entering Albania will be considered any foreign traveler who enters Albania for immigration reasons, works in Albania either as an entrepreneur or as an employee, or in a diplomatic mission or international organization, i.e. is a resident in Albania.

- A foreign tourist entering Albania will be considered any visitor who enters Albania from a foreign country, where this person has a residential residence and comes to stay for more than 24 hours and for less than 12 months, for reasons not employment.

- Foreign visitor of the same day who enters Albania will be considered any Visitor who enters Albania from a foreign country, where this person has a residence and comes to stay for less than 24 hours for non-employment reasons.

Based on these definitions, and bearing in mind that analyzing the total arrivals of foreigners in Albania, according to INSTAT's data on Arrivals of foreign nationals in 2023, I will consider that this total number represents Foreign Travelers.

So there are Foreign Visitors and Foreign Non-Visitors. So this figure includes non-foreign visitors. But how much can they be? Foreign citizens who enter Albania for immigration purposes, work in Albania either as entrepreneurs or as employees or as diplomats in Embassies and International Organizations within our country, together with their families, can move several times and are entered at the entrances total in statistics.

According to INSTAT in Albania in 2022 there were about 18 thousand foreign citizens and by the end of 2023 their number may have increased to about 20 thousand.

Considering their movements as the entry of foreign Non-Visitors and assuming that they may move to their countries about 5 times during the year, then the number of entries would be approximately 100 thousand.

And this figure must be subtracted from the total. So we reached the number of 10,050,000 entries of foreign visitors.

How many million tourists have come to Albania in 2023?

We move to the category of visitors of the same day. Here I will deal with two subcategories.

The first sub-category includes Visitors of the same day transiting Albania. In the statistics presented by INSTAT, the purpose of the transit trip was incorrectly entered. In the documents of the World Tourism Organization, transit travel is not included in the purposes of travel.

In this sense, if in our statistics, we have Transit Visitors those foreigners who were asked about the purpose of entering Albania and they answered transit, I think that the figure that came out is wrong.

Deriving the figure of how many foreign nationals enter Albania in transit should not come from the question of the purpose of the trip, but from the daily calculation of entries and exits within the day of all foreign nationals. In the INSTAT data I see the number 485 thousand.

From my observation and from the calculations I make, I believe this figure should be between 3.0 -3.5 million. I am based on the large number of transit entries of citizens of Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia who travel:
- with flights from Rinas Airport to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Europe.

As is known, during 2023, the flow of flights at Tirana Airport increased a lot. Today Tirana Airport is the largest airport in the region and not only serves for flights from or to Albania, but is also used by citizens of Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia who, through Rinas, manage to catch more direct flights than from their Airports. From the movements we follow, we see that about 20-25% of those who travel are not citizens of Albania.

So, taking into account that we calculate these twice, even when they enter to fly from Rinas, or even when they enter Rinas to transit by land to their countries and if they flew 7-8 from Tirana Airport million passengers, about 1 - 1.3 million may be from the Region.

- by individual vehicles or buses through our border with Montenegro, from Kosovo and North Macedonia to Europe or from Europe to Kosovo and North Macedonia

- by ferry to Italy or even to Greece,

- for holidays in Montenegro and especially in Ulcinj. For your information, about 150,000 Kosovar Albanians spend their vacations in Ulcinj, where they are tourists in Montenegro, and in our country they are counted twice both on the way out and on the way back, so 300,000.

- Likewise, the entries with the final destination of Kosovo and North Macedonia or vice versa of all Citizens with a European passport with Albanian nationality to Kosovo or North Macedonian nationality who move to both should be considered here as Visitors of the same transit day the wings.

The other subcategory of Same Day Visitors is called Excursionists. Here are all those foreign visitors who enter Albania for day visits.

No statistics are generated for them.

In Saranda and Shkodër, as two cities bordering countries with developed tourism, they have benefited from this massive movement of foreigners from different countries.

And the entrances with cruises to Saranda and Durrës are also excursionists. I would think that in total, there will be about 1,500,000 excursionists.

How many million tourists have come to Albania in 2023?

From the total number of foreign visitors, about 10 million, deducting the visitors of the same day, we conclude that the figure of about 5 million would be a figure closer to the real one for foreign tourists who have entered Albania.

How many million tourists have come to Albania in 2023?

We arrive at this figure by analyzing the data published by the World Tourism Organization.

- Croatia, for 2022, reports 50 million foreign visitors, of which only 15 million are tourists.

- France, for 2019, reports 217 million foreign visitors, of which only 91 million are tourists.

- Bulgaria, for 2022, reports 11 million foreign visitors, of which only 5.5 million are tourists.

- Italy, for 2022, reports 75 million foreign visitors, of which only 49 million are tourists.

Looking at the figures reported by these countries, we understand that according to the size of the country, or the possibility of having transit visitors and excursionists of the same day, the number of Foreign Tourists in relation to the number of Foreign Visitors is from 30 - 65% of the number of Foreign Visitors.
So the figure of 5 million should be close to the real figure.

Analyzing the origin of the entry of foreign citizens into Albania during this year according to the table published in Monitor, we see that all the States that have generated large entries into Albania, with the exception of Poland and Spain, are countries where Albanians live (Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro), or countries where a large number of immigrants of Albanian nationality who left during the last 25-30 years and who received the passport of the country where they live (Greece, Italy, Germany, England, USA) live .

We must understand that there is a very close connection between the increase in emigration of the Albanian population abroad and, on the other hand, the increase in the number of ethnic tourists to Albania.

Studying and extracting accurate statistics is of interest, as this category of tourists has special characteristics of interests, purpose, consumption and spending. Therefore, the analysis of the nationality of the entries is a very important characteristic for building the most accurate strategies to really help, not simply in increasing the number of entries, but of income.

In first place is Kosovo with 4.4 million entries as foreign visitors.
From the analysis made above, deducting the transit visitors from Kosovo, I would think that about 1.4 million should be Tourists from Kosovo. So foreign tourists who spend at least one night in Albania.

In second place is Italy with 950,000 foreign visitors.

From the above analysis, but also from the fact that in Italy there are no majority of Kosovar Albanians, I believe that all of them must be foreign tourists.

But here, it should be taken into account that there are about 700 thousand Albanian immigrants living in Italy who are resident in Italy, come to Albania to visit their families and relatives and should be a majority in the total number of visitors.

Regardless of what I say, I don't believe there were more than 200,000 Italian citizens of Italian nationality, the rest must be Italo-Albanians.

In third place is North Macedonia with 745,000 foreign visitors.

I believe that most of the entries from North Macedonia should be Transit Visitors who use the Port of Durrës, the border with Montenegro and Tirana Airport for their movements. This is why, I believe, we have such a large number. But despite this, the number of those who come as tourists, I believe, should be around 150 thousand.

In fourth place is Greece with 667 thousand foreign visitors.

I believe that there is no entry for transit from Greece, so the whole figure should be considered as foreign tourists. But, even in Greece there is a large number of Albanian immigrants who have permanent residence in Greece and I believe that over 90% of the arrivals from Greece must be of Albanian nationality, or Greeks from Albania, who come to Albania to their homes , their families or relatives. The number of Greek tourists in Greece should be around 60,000.

In fifth place is Montenegro with 637,000 foreign visitors.

I believe that most of the entries from Montenegro should be Transit Visitors who use Tirana Airport for their movements. This makes, I believe, that we have such a large number and especially a large increase of 44% compared to a year ago.

We know that, despite the fact that Montenegro has two airports, the number of cities where it flies directly is not even a third of the flights from Tirana. Despite this, the number of those who come as tourists, I believe, should be around 50,000.

The number of Foreign Tourists with Albanian Nationality should also dominate the entries in the countries that are below the list such as: Germany, Great Britain, USA.

So, in the figure of 5 million Foreign Tourists who entered in 2023, there should also be Albanian Immigrant Tourists who make up the Tourists in Families and Relatives, which I believe should be around 1.5 million.

So 5 Million Tourists in Albania should be:

– 1.5 Million Tourists of Albanian Nationality from Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro

– 1.5 Million Immigrant Tourists with Families and Relatives from Italy, Greece, Germany, England, USA, etc.

- 2 Million Foreign Tourists of foreign nationality remain.

How many million tourists have come to Albania in 2023?

I must emphasize once again that the separation of the number of foreign tourists with foreign nationalities is very important, as they have the following characteristics:

-Staying in hotels or apartments for rent

-High average consumption,

- They visit and get to know our monuments and attractions more deeply.

The distinction is also of great importance to avoid incorrect analyzes and wrong conclusions.
It is often said that Albania has tourists who do not spend. It appears in the Conclusions that the arrival of the low cost will turn into a boomerang, it is required to reduce the arrivals in the future.

Wrong calculations are made that also draw wrong conclusions that in Albania there is a high level of informality. Or are conclusions drawn that the market has matured and therefore we will have to target elite tourism.

If we are clear that we do not have 10 million Tourists, but only 2 million Tourists who consume a lot, 1.5 million who consume less and 1.5 million who only have the name Tourists, then we would not come to those analyzes and conclusions incorrect.

We also arrive at these figures by analyzing the total number of beds. Officially, there are about 110 thousand beds in Albania. Since most of the beds are found on the coast, and since Albania has seasonal tourism, a 21% hotel occupancy rate is accepted and even published. To date there is no figure for the average stay in the Hotel of foreign tourists.

I think it can be from 3 to 5. Let's calculate, with our hotel capacities, how much we can hold, assuming that only foreign tourists have slept in hotels in Albania.

A. With these official figures, i.e. 110 thousand beds and 21% utilization rate:

- If we calculate an average stay of 5 nights, there would be about 1.7 million tourists who have used hotels in Albania.

- If we calculate an average stay of 4 nights, there would be about 2.1 million tourists who have used hotels in Albania.

- If we calculate an average stay of 3 nights, there would be around 2.8 million tourists who have used hotels in Albania.

B. Calculating that the number of beds together with informal ones could have gone to 200 thousand and with the same utilization coefficient, i.e. with 21%.

- If we calculate an average stay of 5 nights, there would be around 3.1 million tourists who have used hotels in Albania.

- If we calculate an average stay of 4 nights, there would be about 3.8 million tourists who have used hotels in Albania.

- If we calculate an average stay of 3 nights, there would be about 5.1 million tourists who have used hotels in Albania.
It is understood that sleeping in hotels should also include the sleeping of domestic tourists, which are considerably high. With this analysis, we believe that foreign tourists who use hotels are about 3-4 million. So our figures, 2 million with foreign nationality and 1.5 million with Albanian nationality from the region, must be real.

But from the published statistics there is not only a lack of detailed information, but also errors in the tables and in the explanatory methodology.

The definition for entries is either mistranslation or misunderstanding of what it really is or misunderstanding. It says:  "A person who visits several countries simultaneously during a year is counted as a new entry each time."
It is wrong and nonsensical.

"A person who visits the country several times during a year is counted each time as a new entry."
The definition for Visitor is incorrect in the scope section. Here again it is either a wrong translation or a misunderstanding of what it really is or a misunderstanding. It says: "……..the main purpose of this trip to the visited country is not that of a profitable activity ".

It is wrong. If it were so, then there should be no talk about business tourism, conferences, etc. which constitutes a type of tourism with a lot of income.
It should have been: " ……..the main purpose of this trip to the visited country is not employment".

I took up this analysis to see more realistically the development of tourism in Albania. Acknowledging that during the last 10 years, great positive changes were made in the development of tourism:

- During the last 2-3 years, low cost flight companies started flights that increased 3 times the number of destinations compared to 2019 and the number of frequencies in these destinations, I would even say that they made a revolution in the tourism industry, they introduced Albania in their global network.

- Charter flights to Albania from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Ukraine, etc., began and were added.

- Hotels on Albanian beaches began to offer warranty contracts for the first time, started all inclusive service, extended the sales season to 100-120 days, improved services and the environment inside the hotels.

- Mountain tourism was added in the north of the country and this made the entire map of Albania have a tourist product.

- Investment interest in the hotel industry also increased from international beach hotel chains

- The arrival of various Cruise Lines increased significantly, especially in Saranda.

It is understood that the positive changes have also been accompanied by various problems, which have constantly been raised as concerns. My concern in this analysis is related to improvements that need to be made.

First, the scientific reporting of statistical data on the real number of tourists is not only a need to adapt our data according to the recommendations of the World Tourism Organization, but it is also a real understanding and reporting of growth and positive changes in the correct measure , avoiding excessive and wrong flights in statements about achievements or forecasts.

Second, If the markets that generate tourists are correctly analyzed, central and local authorities will be better able to build more accurate policies that do not simply aim to increase numbers, but to protect the environment and, most importantly, to increase income and employment.

I say this because if we increase the number of transit visitors and excursionists, the income will not only increase very little, but also the effect on employment or on the expansion of local production in aid of tourism will be very small.

In the above analysis, I may have made mistakes in the calculation, but I'm sorry, it is not my duty to give exact figures, it is the duty of the state bodies to provide us with information and to provide this information as accurately and as accurately as possible. detailed./ Monitor.al

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