By Erald Lamja dhe Nevila Popa –
Berat Economic Development Advisory Council dedicates efforts to the specific demand of the Asian tourism market
Berat is an international cultural destination for tourists. In keeping with its designations as a UNESCO world heritage site, it offers an unforgettable experience for passionate visitors of culture, history, art, and nature.
The rich cultural heritage of its architecture is complimented by the beautiful nature and landscapes surrounding the city. Local and organic ingredients feed into a delicious culinary tradition served with the warmth of hospitality for which Albania is world-renowned. The recent creation of four new administrative units of Berat can now offer more cultural and natural heritage sites to tourists, increasing accessibility and making it possible for greater numbers of visitors to experience the city and its surrounding countryside.
In 2018 Berat was visited by approximately 110,000 guests, 60% of whom were foreign visitors. This is an increase of 34% over numbers in 2017, a strong indication of trends to come. Resulting from the priority of the tourism sector in the municipality of Berat and at the request of its private sector, the Berat Economic Development Advisory Council dedicated its last meeting of 2018 to address the specific demand of the Asian tourism market.
The biggest Albanian tour operator catering to Japan and the Asian market, Albania Experience, presented the needs and requests of this market segment when visiting Berat. Topics of presentation included: requests from the Asian tourism market, especially Japan, regarding accommodation; best practices offered in similar cultural heritage cities, concerning promotional events and festivals; and weak points and challenges from the previous tourism season in Albania.
The meeting concluded with a promise to add more accommodation structures in 2019, and it is expected that 200 more rooms will be available in Berat for the international and domestic market next year. Tourist guide standards are now regulated by a legal framework, and representatives of the handicraft sector are striving to meet the higher demands of visitors as well, in quality and quantity.
“Tourism businesses are developing fast in Berat municipality, and we are interested to establish contact with tour operators and travel agencies that deal with the Asian market. This market represents a high number of tourists and a long duration of stay in Europe and we are working to improve our tourism offer within the high standards of Asian market requirements”, said Monika Xheblati, owner of a local guest house Hani i Xheblatit, “Today’s meeting was very informative, and the real cases explained helped us to not only better understand, but also (taught us) how to respond to the market demand.”
“This meeting served to foster cooperation between local businesses and national tour operators by sharing experiences on how to better respond to the demands of the Asian tourism market. It also served us to better coordinate the work with the tourism businesses in the municipality, encouraging ideas to improve the tourism product and to organize joint marketing and promotional activities in our municipality of Berat’’, said Klejda Kusta, Director of the Tourism Culture, Youth & Sports Directory at the Municipality of Berat.
Photo by Erald Lamja