“Peeping ” tourist a case study of the state tourist agency-albturist


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“Peeping ” tourist a case study of the state tourist agency-albturist

  1. 1. “PEEPING ” TOURIST: A CASE STUDY OF THE STATE TOURIST AGENCY-ALBTURIST Brunilda Liçaj, Candidate PhD1 Lecturer - Faculty of Business ―Aleksander Moisiu‖ University - Durres, Albania E-mail: brunildalicaj@uamd.edu.al; brunilda.licaj@yahoo.it Armada Molla, MSc2 President- ADCT (Association for Development of Cultural Tourism), Albania E-mail: adctinfo@gmail.com; a.molla@adct.al The Historians described Albania as one of the countries belonging to the former socialist coalition that couldn‘t escaped the general symptom of developing a controlled and a state-run economy. Tourism which was considered as one of the most crucial industry for the majority of world economies during the communist regime in Albania it was considered as an insignificant industry. The lack of attention of tourism development justified under the ideology of Karl Marx theory under which "services do not influence the creation of the gross domestic product of a country." As a member of a specific group, the Albanian borders were opened for a limited number of tourists, whose origin was mainly from the former communist countries. This article aims to analyze the development of the Albanian tourism under the functioning of the only State Agency called ALBTURIST during the communist regime, from the time of its creation until the advent of changes of 1990. The role of ALBTURIST for the promotion of the Albanian tourism to countries of eastern former block, intensified with a secondary function (hidden), to keep under survey the actions of the tourists, function that turned it ―into the shelter of the Albanian intelligence surveillance.‖ Key words: tourism, communism period, promotion, tourist survey, intelligence surveillance 1 Brunilda Licaj (PhD candidate) is a lecturer in ―Aleksander Moisiu‖ University of Durres and from 2010 she was hired as Consultant/Assester for the Quality Mark ―Authentic Albania‖ program to support businesses in the tourism industry. She is following up her PHD Studies in Marketing and mostly is devoted to tourism concerns in Albania. Graduated in Economics in profile "Business Administration" at the University of Tirana (1996) and later at University of Verona (2008) Brunilda has a distingushable experience dealing primarily with the financial sector of tourism in Albania and Italy (Verona Provincia Turismo S.r.l, La Vikinga Lines Company Albania etc). 2 Armada Molla (MSc) is the Chairwoman of ADCT- (Association for the Development of Cultural Tourism). Graduated in History & Geography (1991-1995) she hold a Master Degree on Cultural Heritage with Thesis "Cultural Tourism-Globalization and prospective of Albania". Its commitment on tourism and cultural heritage has begun since 2003 when she worked as a lecturer at the National History Museum - Tirana. Based on her long experience as a lecturer and guide for foreign visitors she is co-author of National History Museum - Guide 2008, a joint project of UNDP-Albania and National History Museum. 2010-Onwards she is consultant at the Albanian Tourism Association on cultural tourism and cultural heritage issues. Since 2009 onwards she is the President of ADCT, an association which is focused on development of tourism in the country through the cultural and professional education. She has attended a lot of conferences and seminars organized in Europe and Balkan for the development of tourism, specifically on cultural tourism, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. 1
  2. 2. Albanian tourism has been ever specified as an important economic sector, but as an ideological and propaganda sector limited it both quantitative and qualitative plane. Introduction This paper presents the ways how tourism was developed in Albania during the totalitarian regime of 1945-1990, as well the role of the only of its kind state agency ALBTURIST to the development and propaganda of tourism of the country. Methodologies In this paper you will find out facts about the creation of the unique tourism state agency known as ―Albturist‖ its role in ―promoting‖ and "facilitating foreign tourists" with a very sophisticated technique of surveillance. The study was based on the original records of the Albanian State Archives, articles published both in Albanian and foreign press of that period, and also on the memories of former employees of this agency. The tourism sector in Albania experienced a late development by having thus a marginal role in the Albanian economy. The earliest investments in the Albanian tourism sector were done through the Italian invasion, while as a ―specific sector‖ the tourism was developed during the communist period even with an evident handicap in comparison with other countries. Important parts of this paper are as well studies done over the years, particularly those of foreign academics that focused their studies to the countries of former social camp. The ending of World War II and establishment of a new economy in the country were very great premises for development of tourism. However the socialist system of that time based its policy on the ideology of Karl Marx's theory according to which ―the services have influence in the distribution of prosperity, but they do not have influence in GDP configuration"3 1 Albanian tourism communist era during the The first development traces of Tourism in Albania seemed to be at the beginning of 20th century. An interview of 1928 stated that King Zog speak about the improvements that he wanted to do in order to attract tourists, on the way of the transformation of Albania into a European state5. The figures of that time showed that As in every planned economy, the central government was the authority that should care of everything. However a quite limited incoming of foreign tourists could be seen in Albania of that period, mainly tourists from Eastern European countries that Albania had good diplomatic relations until 60 years' of 20th century, while for the Western European travelers Albania have been open with great reluctance during the entire 1960-1990 period. Although at the other Mediterranean countries, tourism was an important branch of the economy, in Albania it can not be treated as such.The government was the only authority of tourism monopoly4. The nous le développons, certes, mais pas dans la mesure, sous les formes ni dans les buts de profit et à la fois de dégénérescence qui sont ceux des Etats capitalistes et révisionnistes. Nous ne pratiquons le tourisme qu'avec les amis et les sympathisants de l'Albanie socialiste, avec des gens honnêtes venant de pays et d'Etats qui observent une attitude amicale et correcte à l'égard de notre pays. 5 In 1938, the total length of public roads in Albania was 2,540km, mostly un asphalted and situated in the western part of the country. About 4,400 passengers were transported over an average distance of 80km. The first railway (44 km long, with a standard gauge) was built in 1947. Maritime transport was not well developed until 1950. Air transport was established for the first time in 1930 1940, connecting Tirana with 4 - 5 other cities. 3 See: Biagini A.,(2005) Storia dell’Albania contemporanea. Bompiani, Milano, 7 4 See: Economist (1977) ―Hoxha's happy land ― 263, 14 May 54–7 . En ce qui concerne le tourisme, 2
  3. 3. Albania in 1929 counted about 13 holiday centers and 27 hotels in total, whereas three of them located in Durresi beach. In the mid ‘30s the only tourism agency was ―The Tourism and Albanian automotive Office", and at the two country's major ports regularly anchored cruisers with tourists having daily tours in Tirana and Durresi cities. 1945, a 15 villas complex with a capacity of 37 rooms and a hotel with 28 rooms in the Durresi seaside were the fewest touristic infrastructure. This small number of existing buildings was designed just to welcome travelers and did not provide a real service for the tourist. After World War II, the totalitarian state led by Enver Hoxha and influenced by Soviet Union and communist ideology ―where the policy of the proletariat should be in the first line" was founded. In the name of the ―exclusion principle‖ of ―the autocratic class" the private property was totally abolished and replaced by the socialist property, consisted of two typically forms; the state property and the cooperatives. The state was ―in charge/the owner‖ of everything, starting with natural recourses and seaside to the insignificant private staff taken by the traders and owners. The political isolation (instantly after the end of World War II) had its own consequences in terms of creating a touristic offer destined to the national consumers. 1. Massive tourism, a common ―touristic‖ offer arranged by the state which had constructed holiday houses (bungalows) for its employees and their family members. The touristic products of the communist regime (1945-1990) consist of: Table 1: The distribution of the balneary center in national level Years 1970 1975 1980 1987 Balneary center 5 6 6 6 Beds 405 640 700 640 8.666 11.769 13.523 Vacationer 6. 871 Source: ISTAT Albania 2. Tourism in holiday villages: representing institutions built based on the needs for other social classes vacations with an "all inclusive" formula In contrast to other East European countries, where announcements of new measures in a bid to attract foreign tourists have become the order of the day, the small country on the Adriatic, which is potentially a very lucrative tourist area, continues to pursue outmoded “Marxist Leninist” policies”6. 3. Tourism in the government holidays centers: built in the most attractive and relaxed coastal or mountain areas dedicated just for high-ranking officials of government. The touristic infrastructure inherited after the World War II was almost negligible. In 4. The private Tourism - was spontaneous forms of organization from families who use to live in these areas try to rent rooms for other families. There were only a couple of small aeroplanes, and only the Tirana runway was of concrete. In 1957, an international airport was constructed at Rinas, near Tirana. See: ―Implication of Climate change for the Albanian coast implications du changement climatique pour la zone cotiere d‟Albanie‖. MAP Technical Reports Series No.98 UNEP Athens, 1996. 5. Medical Tourism - organized by the state based at the holiday camps ―resort‖ built closed to the thermal water areas, always for 15 days period under the physician supervision, authorized by the local health center. 3
  4. 4. 6. The Tourism of Events - experienced a growth in particular during 70s-90s years. The main forms of it were cultural activities such as National Folk Festival, Sports Activities, Congresses, etc. socialist countries such as Czech and Russian, who had a particular interest regarding the Albanian Riviera9. The Czechs Government wanted to build a holiday resort for its employees in Dhermi (Southern Albania), while the Russians supported the construction of five-story buildings complex at the Durresi coastline. 7. Albturist: The National Enterprise was the only enterprise/association that offered touristic production for the international tourism 2.1 The Activity of Albturist in the Accommodation and Transport sectors. However the great possibilities to developed tourism faced with the governmental mediocrity, and as the difference between demand and supply become evident the tourism industry gain more attention during 80‘s. 2.STATE TOURISM ALBTURIST Founded in 1956 Albturist aimed the facilitation of the tours of socialist camp countries groups. Being the only State Owned Enterprise ―Albturist" was based on three main directions: ENTREPRISE i. ii. Establishing "Albturist"; iii. In the mid-50s, as a consequence of the broken alliances between the socialist camp countries,7 the Albania-Soviet socialist policy encouraged the development of tourism. Thus, at the KNER (Council of Mutual Emergency Aid) meeting held in 1958 the states discussed: Albania should be the touristic destination for the KNER's countries. Establishing of network of the hotels known as "Hotel Tourism Albturist"; Promotion of "ideology‖. of bus tourism network as an The earliest Albturist statistics confirm that the number of tourists in 1956 was 280 persons, which over the years till the mid 90s increased to the 40.000 tourists. Derek Hall shows that the bulk of tourists that visited destinations in the socialist countries came from the bloc, mostly from the wealthier northern and central European states such as the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary 8. The first hotels tours for this purpose were those built during the King Zog period such as: Hotel "Vollga" (1938)10 in the city of Durres; hotel "Dajti" in Tirana, very well designed by the Italian architects during 1939-1943, with a capacity of 98 rooms (considered as luxury hotels during the whole communist era 1945-1990), and The Albania's touristic potentials became attractive for tourists coming from 7 9 Albania became dependent on Soviet aid and know-how after the break with Yugoslavia in 1948. In February 1949, Albania gained membership in the communist bloc's organization for coordinating economic planning, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon). 8 Hall (1991), 91–95, cited in TAYLOR. K (2011). From trips to modernity to holidays in nostalgia: tourism history in eastern and southeastern Europe The touristic Albanian property layout in 28.748 kilometer Square: consist off: 8 Historical centers, 75 town, 115 religion cults (Churches, Monasteries, Mosque, hundred bridges, tipical construction of indisputable values. See: VLORA. K. A.(1979), La nuova Albania, Istituto geografico militare, Firenze, p. 117 10 The hotel close Taulantia promenade was build in the eve of the world War II. First it was known as ―Albergo dei Dogi‖ (The Venetian Dogi Hotel). 4
  5. 5. the King Zog's summer residence built in 192611. At the only International Airport in Albania known as "Rinas" Airport actually ―Mother Teresa‖ Airport, the first operating aircraft companies were JAT, Malev, Interflug, with a small regular number of flights. The break with the Soviet Union happened 1960 till 1978 reduced in a very significant way the number of flights. In 1986 Swiss Air started the flights from Tirana to Zurich, while one year later 1987 Lufthansa flights from Frankfurt to Tirana14. The most populated area was the coastline of Durresi: where were built Hotel Adriatic (1958) with a capacity of 54 rooms (3 suites and 51 double rooms); Hotel Apollonia, Kruja and Durresi build in (1961-1962). The three hotels were built with the same architecture with a capacity of 102 rooms and 300-seats restaurant. Later on a series of hotels named as Hotel ―Turizmi‖ (Tourism) were built in the major cities of Albania, such as Gjirokastra, Fieri, Vlora, Korca, Shkodra, Saranda, Drini etc., The summer tours offered a combination of vacation at the Albanian beachs with visits to the ancient sites, while the winter packages offer just historic sites, cities and museums visits.In general, the most visited centers were those of southern and central of Albania. A hotel building programs commensurate with an expansionist policy Foreign-Tourist that was inaugurated 1972-1982.New 11 hotels were built, almost doubling the New International Standard Accommodation Capacity. Most visits tours in Albania were to the two major classical sites, Butrint (near Sarande) and Apollonia (near Fieri);. If you „re lucky, your Albturist bus will get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, allowing you an unplanned stop among the donkey-carts, fig trees, and hillside villages of the stunning Albanian countryside, where two- thirds of the population still lives.15 As the result of the broken relationship between Albania and Soviet Union the visitors coming from the East European Countries were replaced by the Asian continent visitors. This situation required by the international institutions to be more careful towards the visitors coming from Austria, France12, Italy, and Sweden, but whose number do not exceed 1000 person per year13. The foreign visitors in northern part of Albania such Kukesi, Peshkopia, Tropoja cities etc., were seen in the early 80's till 90‘. There was a lack of private vehicles, but the bicycles rental control by the state authorities was allowed both for Albanians and foreign tourists16. Internal trains and buses are crowded, even that 11 The Vila was a gift of the Durresi traders. 11 years later in the eve of the weddign ceremony with Hungurain Countess Geraldine Apony, the King Ahmet Zogu I, reconstructed it acoording the project of 2 italian architects. Viweing from the air the edifice has the shape of the opening wings eagle, and in the front of it there is an emblem with our National Hero Gjergj Kastriot Skënderbeut on the horse. 12 The French are very much persona grata in Albania because Enver Hoxha was educated at the Sorbonne—as were most of the lunatic fringe of Communism: Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh and others. Cited in: BAKER R. (1976). The Dark side of the moon in Enver Hoxha‟s Albania 13 See: HOXHA. E (1981).Rapport au VIIIe Congrès du PTA, p. 231 En ce qui concerne le tourisme, nous le développons, certes, mais pas dans la mesure, sous les formes ni dans les buts de profit et à la fois de dégénérescence qui sont ceux des Etats capitalistes et révisionnistes. Nous ne pratiquons le tourisme qu'avec les amis et les sympathisants de l'Albanie socialiste, avec des gens honnêtes venant de pays et d'Etats qui observent une attitude amicale et correcte à l'égard de notre pays. 14 In aero the exceptions of two or three cadres on business trips and diplomats, the passengers were tourists. Albanian never leave the country 15 http://www.ianwatson.org/lge1991-albania.pdf 16 The rent for a bicicle cost 30 Albanian Lek/ hour on that time the prize for a bread was 40 AL 5
  6. 6. fascinate the foreigners, to use them was forbidden. The train schedules are listed in the Thomas Cook European Timetable. foreign languages. Later these ranges were enriched with other volumes in English. The Albturist role towards the Albanian tourism promotion became "evident" after the production of videos publicized in every activity outside the country18. But in 1984 the academic journal article of Hall had described the Albanian tourism structure, and the role of Albturist: 'the tourist finds his/her role becoming one of passive sponge'19.Albanian efforts at tourism information and promotion were not notable. Despite of the increased number of visitors confirmed in the 1st table above, the statistics of 1960-1990 in comparison with Albanian‘ neighbors represents just 1.6% of tourists in Greece or Yugoslavia17. Table 2: The foreign tourists in Albania recorded in several years Nr. of Years Presents tourist Over night What was understandable for many foreigners at that time was that Albturist do not succeed in its role as Touristic Company, the presentation could be as such, but the real goal was "the whole isolation of the country."Its role became more appreciated during the National Folk Festivals18, which during '70s were frequented by the ―folk foreign groups‖ Albanian Diaspora (USA) Arberesh of Italy and other folk groups came from countries having good political relationships with Albania. Income ($) 1956 280 3.612 12.09 23.000 1960 6065 85.516 14.01 409.000 1970 3.531 19.985 7.09 380.000 1980 3.748 39.491 10.05 1.475.000 Source: ISTAT Albania 2.2 The role of Albturist in "touristic propaganda" The Albturist role do not limited in building of the ‗Turizmi‖ hotels network. In 1958 the first promotional brochures were published such as: Albanie Pays de Tourism (Albturist 1958): Guide d'Albanie (avec un petit Manuel de conversation) Albturist, 1958; Albanien. A Handbook for New vanner, vetgiriga Stockholm 1976 och turister etc. A pocket-size Tourist guide book was published in the late 1960 (Albturist, 1969) but was never updated. 3. “PEEPING TOURIST” During 1945-1990, the entry visa system in Albania was very tight, with a procedure that lasted several months. People from Israel, USA, and South Africa were not allowed20. The visitors should follow the rules in terms of behavior and way of dressing21, without using religious 18 Riza, E.(1978) Gjirokastra:museum city.Tirana Hall, Dr. (1984) foreign tourism under socialism: the Albanian “Stalinist” model. Annals of Tourism Research 11, 539–555 20 Only the Albanian expatriat of ‗20s who used to live in USA had the right to enter in Albania, came under a rigorous controll. In 1990 Albania recorded the first toursit caming from USA, a number of 401 tourists or 1.3% of the general statistics of this year. 21 See : The memories of a German journalist: ―Der Spiegel‖ 30.06.1975. At once we landed at the Tirana Airoport, the man bearded travelers were shave off and cut the long hairs, while the female 19 Each tourism hotels has its leaflet. In 1980 the first tourist map was published which with few changes is still in use as the actually main map. Ranges of publication in French translation, including a number of booklets on National heritages, were the first publication in 17 Gace. B. (2005). ―Historiku i Zhvillimit te Turizmit ne Shqiperi”. The histori of the Developemnt of tourism in Albania 6
  7. 7. materials or other materials against the ideology of the state22. the foreigners was under the surveillance and in many cases part of the employees was infiltrated by the state security and the tourists felt the ―surveying sight of all residents." “The foreigners who went to Albania always visit the same enterprises, always see the same people. Most travelers wind up confirming the image of the country as presented by official propaganda-an image also relayed by the friendship associations to which certain academics lend the support of their names and their pens23”.Along the road there were slogans-more than in any other East European country24.“The delicate supervision of foreign visitors requires substantial attention from the state‟s organs of internal control, both to maintain the validity of the state‟s xenophobic rhetoric for the host population and for the actual protection of the foreign guest.”25 Albturist have shiny, new coaches for trucking visitors around. You feel embarrassingly flash and it's like being in a fish tank being peered at like human UFOs, even though you're wearing your drabbest gear. You're not allowed to take local buses or go off alone anywhere. The hotels, mainly- Russian built, are huge with vast ' dining halls with pillars, chandeliers, drapes and marble floors26. The favorite music was classical and the music of western movies. The lack of the "night life in the touristic areas‖ was evident. The more often comments addressed to the cleaning of the streets. Even the poverty of the cities was openly exposed the cleanliness prevailed. What was understandable by many foreigners at that time was that Albturist failed to attracted visitors. The presentation was as such but the mean of it is to prevent the massive foreigners‘ entries, and the isolation of the country. Albania was rich in religious cults but they never present to the foreigners. The groups surveyed by the intelligence service staff from the time when they crossed the border till the end of the tours. Cameras and photographic equipments were not allowed. Every "Turizmi Hotel" used for However the long expected curves began on '80s. From the late '70s foreign singers (Greeks in general) were allowed to performance in Albania, Italians later on, and late ‗80s Albania succeed to be the gate which welcomed tourists from around the world. tourists dressed on miniscirts and long trausers ala-western style replaced with local dress produced in the country, before they cross the borders.. 22 Hoxha. E.,Rapport au VIIe Congrès du PTA, p. 253. Chez nous le tourisme n'est pas une industrie ni un moyen de corruption et de vagabondage. 23 Dali.A. ―French journalist reports on Trip to nation‖. Esprit. 1983 24 See in‖ Award-winning movie about the reality in communist Albania. Andrea (Artur Gorishti) a young teacher from the city moves to a small remote village to work. The first duty he is assigned is built political slogans on the hill slopes. Although "Slogans" make up the theme of the movie, the movie is not only about the slogans but it is a realistic picture of life in a totalitarian society. 25 Hall, D.R. (1990): Stalinism and Tourism – A study of Albania and North Korea. Annals of Tourism Research, 17(1), 36-54 cited in ―Tourism Development between communist dictatorship and a democratic future: A situation analysis of the tourism potential of Vlora at the Albanian south coast, Maria Frank. The big change happened only after the Enver Hoxha‘s death (1985), as the communist state was in its last squirm. 26 7 Der Spiegel‖ 30.06.1975. Idem
  8. 8. CONCLUSION The state interest for development of tourism in Albania is a result of "isolation" policy followed by the totalitarian regime. In some cases, tourism was taken into consideration as a need for foreign currency, as well as a part of the Albanian products should be imported (although always they propagandas the reverse). Its role grew mainly in the late '80 when the "wind of change" started blow with the opening of borders towards the curious. "The final countdown had begun and continues to reflect the time asking the needs of tourists at different times. Actually the Tourism in Albania has won its status as the helmsman of the Albanian economy and try to follow the compass that will led to the best possible direction provided by "wind of change". Tourism was inevitably politicized in such circumstances, but at the same time has won the right to act as a catalyst of change, as an instrument to reinforce his status quo. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Albania Moving Along, But Slowly, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,Report on Eastern Europe, 2, No. 1, January 5, 1990. 2. Anamali,S and Adhami,S.(1974Mosaiques de l‟Albanie. Tirana:8 Nentori. 3. Collombon, J.M (2001) Le tourism solidaire en zones rurales du sud de l‟Albanie. Technical report. 4. Ducellier, A.(1981) La facada marittime de L'Albanie au Moyen Age.Insitute for Balkan Studies:Thessaloniques 5. Economist (1977) ―Hoxha's happy land ―Economist 263, 14 May 54–7 6. Economist (1978) ―Tales from Albania's beaches‖ Economist 266, 4 March 50 7. Freedman, Robert Owen.(1970) Economic Warfare in the Communist Bloc: A Study of Soviet 8. Economic Pressure Against Yugoslavia, Albania, and Communist China. New York: Praeger, 9. Hall, D.R. (1994) Albania and the Albanians, Pinter: London 10. Hall, D.R. (1990) Stalinism and tourism: a study of Albania and North Korea .Annals of Tourism Research 1, 36–54 11. Hall, Dr. (1984) Foreign tourism under socialism: the Albanian “Stalinist” model. Annals of Tourism Research 11, 539–555 12. Jenkins,L.(1976) Albania the land of eagles. Port Talbot Guardian: 13April. 13. Karin, T (2011). From trips to modernity to holidays in nostalgia: tourism history in eastern and southeastern Europe.Tension of Europe/ Inventing Europe: Working paper WP_2011 14. Kaser, M. Albania under and after Enver Hoxha. Joint Economic: United States Congress, 99th, 2d Session,1-21 15. Marmullaku, R.(1975) Albania and the Albanians” Hamden, New York: Archon Books 16. P. Sandstorm and O. Sjoberg (1991) Albanian economic performance: Stagnation in the 1980. Soviet Studies, 43(5):931 947 17. Panarity.M.(1957) Albania: The Rock Garden of Southeastern Europe and Other Essays. Boston: Pan-Albanian Federation of America 8
  9. 9. 18. Salmon, S.( 2006) Marketing socialism: Inturist in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Gorsuch A E and Koenker D P ed Turizm: the Russian and East European tourist under capitalism and socialism Cornell University Press, Ithaca NY 186–204 19. Skendi, S (1956) Albania. New York: Praeger. 20. Strazimiri,G.(1987).Berati:qytet muze.Tirana: 8 Nentori 21. Turnock, D.(1984) Postwar studies on the human geography of Eastern Europe Progress in Human Geography 8, 315 9