|Tirana International Airport. Photo:Albinfo/Wikimedia|
Albanians still prefer Turkey as the prime destination for their summer vacations, although the Greek islands have started also to lure younger Albanians who want to spend their summer vacation abroad.
Tirana International Airport data about flights during summer 2016 show around 41,000 Albanians took charter flights to the Turkish Aegean Sea coast that year, while tourist operators see the trend remaining the same for 2017.
Jetmira Hoxha, a manager at Union Travel agency, told BIRN that although the prices this summer for all-inclusive Turkish holiday package were higher than in 2016, demand was still strong.
“Turkey is without doubt the most sought-after destination for Albanians, mainly for families that can find … all-inclusive packages at affordable prices,” she said.
Relatively low prices are an important factor for people from Albania, one of Europe’s poorer countries.
Dozens of tourist agencies offer seven-night packages from 350 euros per person to up to 1,000 euros for a 5-star hotel. Children, depending on their age, pay half-price or can even accompany their parents for free.
What helps Turkey to retain its popularity as a summer destination is that many charter companies offer direct flights from Tirana, included in the package price, making the whole experience stress-free.
“During July and August, there are daily inbound and outbound flights,” Hoxha said.
Adela Kaja, an agent from ATHS agency, told BIRN that vacations in Turkey have dominated the Albanian holiday market for a decade and the trend had remained the same for 2017.
“There is no other option at the moment to beat the commodity and the prices that Turkey offers. It’s number one when it comes to families’ needs,” she said.
Fatjola Hoxha, a lawyer who for 12 years in a row has taken her summer vacation in Turkey, told BIRN that she preferred it because it takes longer to get to neighbouring countries like Greece, Montenegro and Croatia, and they are far more expensive as well.
“If you choose the Greek islands, you have to make a road and ferry trip, while during the summer the long lines at the Montenegrin and Croatian checkpoints are painful – not to mention that these destinations are expensive,” Hoxha told.
She said that with the all-inclusive packages in Turkey, there were no abuses or bad surprises.
However, tourist agencies say the Greek islands have started to become more popular for Albanians in the last three years.
“We have started to offer three-night all-inclusive packages in Corfu and Halkidiki and in northern Greece, on the Olympic Riviera, and many find them attractive, especially the young. Greek destinations are more for exploring, while Turkish ones offer more luxury stays and relaxing,” Kaja, from ATHS, told BIRN.
Jetmira Hoxha, from Union Travel, also said vacations in Parga and Preveza in Greece had started to gain loyal followers when it comes to vacations.
Albanian tourist agents also mention Spain and Portugal as more frequent destinations for Albanians during summer. However, the lack of direct flights connecting Albania with these countries remains a drawback.