Albania’s tourism sector made the fastest post-pandemic recovery in Europe

Albania was in the third position worldwide in terms of the growth of the tourism sector in the first seven months of 2023 compared to the same period of 2019, the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer showed. 

The number of tourist arrivals in Albania was up by 56% compared to pre-pandemic 2019. The top spot was claimed by Qatar, with 95% growth, followed by Saudi Arabia with a 59% growth rate.

Albania beat better-known European destinations like Croatia, France, Greece, Italy and Spain, as global tourism continues its post-pandemic recovery, but overall figures still lag behind 2019. Other countries with a strong rebound in tourism included Armenia, Montenegro and Serbia. 

Published quarterly, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer analyses data on tourist destinations and source markets. It incorporates a confidence index derived from the UNWTO Expert Panel survey, offering a contemporary assessment of international tourism performance and short-term outlooks.

International tourism rebounded to 84% of pre-pandemic levels during the period from January to July 2023. Despite economic and geopolitical challenges, there has been a notable increase in travel demand, showing resilience and sustainable recovery trends, a press release from the UNWTO said. 

In the first seven months of 2023, approximately 700mn tourists embarked on international journeys, marking a 43% increase compared to the same period in 2022. However, this figure remains 16% below 2019 levels.

Regionally, the Middle East demonstrated the most robust performance, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 20% from January to July 2023. Europe, as the world’s largest destination region, achieved 91% of pre-pandemic levels due to strong intra-regional demand.

Africa reached 92% of pre-crisis visitor numbers, while the Americas reached 87%. In Asia and the Pacific, arrivals climbed to 61% of pre-pandemic levels.

These promising results indicate a trajectory toward international tourism reaching 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, aligning with UNWTO’s projections outlined in the January 2023 World Tourism Barometer.

Looking ahead to the September-December 2023 period, forecasts suggest a continuous recovery, albeit at a more moderate pace following the peak travel season of June-August.

However, the report warned, the complex economic landscape may influence spending patterns for the remainder of the year, with travellers increasingly prioritising value for money, shorter journeys, and destinations closer to home.