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  • 1. Korça Regional Council January 6, 2014 Tourism in the Korça Region Whilst the Korça Region has a very long history, distinctive traditions and an exceptional environment, tourism in most of the region is emerging as an economic sector (with to a certain Tourism in the Korca Region
  • 2. extent the exception of Pogradec on Ohrid Lake where leisure vacations have been established over a longer period). Figures for tourist arrivals have not been collected or compiled but according to local stakeholders, there has been a significant increase of visitors in recent years. The region has an excellent mix of soft and hard cultural assets as well as outstanding natural assets. These are described in greater detail in the following section as are the markets that are currently visiting the Korça Region. The next few paragraphs provide an impression of the richness of the Korça Region but do not attempt to present the totality of the tourism products that exist. Tourism Products in the Korça Region The region has a wide range of products based on its history, culture and traditions, its villages and its lakes and mountains. The Villages of the Korça Region These constitute a major tourism asset and are located throughout the region. Several villages are located near Korça City including Voskopoja, Boboshtica, Dardha and Vithkuq. Voskopoja is the best known and features on most tours that pass through the South East of Albania. Founded in the 16th century, Voskopoja by the 18th century was a major urban settlement housing the Academy, a centre dedicated to the development of culture and education. Today, five Byzantine churches and a monastery from the original twenty-two that were built when Voskopoja was a major settlement are testimony to this grand period. St Nicholas Church is the best preserved and contains priceless artwork. A forest much visited by locals is located near the village. There are several small hotels and guesthouses available to tourists and a new relatively large hotel has been built in the centre of the village but is not open yet. A little outside Voskopoja, the Academia Hotel has 50 rooms and 11 villas. Its market is mainly school groups but also conferences and business meetings as well as leisure tourists attracted to the pure, clear air in natural surroundings. The property is very attractive and could be converted into a high quality conference centre. There are several activities for guests to enjoy including horses available for hire. The village is very attractive and deserves it reputation in the area. However, certain obstacles need to be overcome, especially problems associated with long electricity power cuts and water shortages. The new hotel in the centre of the village is delaying its launch until these hindrances are resolved. It plans to offer a ‘farm’ experience with homemade traditional foods and horses will be kept on the grounds of the hotel which will be available to its clients. In general, and this is a general comment about all the villages in the region, there is a need to organize activities for visitors such as guided tours, walks and cycling or horse rides in the surrounding countryside. Akademia Hotel in Voskopoja There are five surviving churches in Voskopoja from twenty-two in its heyday
  • 3. Boboshitica is a historic village located on the plain close to Korça City. Several old houses and churches still exist in the village which is now especially famous for its mulberry trees. These are an integral ingredient of the famed local alcoholic drink, mulberry raki, which gives it a distinctive taste and green tint sought out by visitors. The restaurants of the village are well known, especially to residents of Korça City, but also to visitors who are aware of the excellent cuisine and they are a primary destination of any organised tour to the Korça area. Dardha is a mountain village, 20 km from Korça at 1344 m in altitude. It has distinctive stone and slate-roofed architecture, unique in Albania. The local inhabitants of Dardha are reputed for their hospitality, generosity and their traditional folkloric dance, music and costumes. There are a number of churches in the village that can be visited. Activities for visitors include skiing at nearby fields which have fairly basic equipment at the present time but do attract the domestic market. Several small hotels, guesthouses and home stays are available to tourists in and around Dardha. The construction of a new high quality hotel is nearly completed and it should open in 2009. This will be a property aimed at the high-end tourist and the owners are planning to install a well- known management company to run the facility. Vithkuq village is located in a very picturesque hilly environment 26 km from Korça. It is rich in fauna and flora, in particular a large variety of medicinal plants such as mountain tea, wild rose and linden flowers amongst others. The village is split into three areas and boasts a number of historical monuments. The first church was built in the 12th century and the village grew to a population of 343 families in the 16th century. However by the 19th century the village had been destroyed three times. Today it has recovered although many of the inhabitants have emigrated over the years. There are several traditional churches, eight of which have been reconstructed or rebuilt. In particular the church at the Monastery of St Peter has magnificent frescos. The village has distinctive customs, traditions and folklore such as the ‘dado’ dance as well as excellent traditional cuisine. A number of well known Albanian figures originated from Vithkuq including the painter Vangjush Mio, the ‘people’s painter’ who was inspired by the landscapes of the Korça Region. A museum dedicated to him is located in Korça City utilizing the 200-year- old home that he lived in. Accommodation at the village is mainly at guesthouses offering a few rooms and at homestays offered by local residents. To ensure good occupancy, more effective marketing is vital. There is also a need for some environmental clear up in the village to present an attractive environment to visitors. The Mulberry tree are cultivated to provide a special ingredient of the Boboshitica raki Paintings adorning St Peter’s Church
  • 4. The villages on and around Prespa Lake offer visitors a different tourism experience in the Korça Region. The commune of Prespa comprises nine villages in total, seven of which are on the lake shore and two in the mountains, offering a range of landscapes and activities to tourists. The villages are mostly inhabited by a Macedonian minority which constitutes an added attraction for tourists from other countries who can discover the cultural heritage of a distinctly different community in the Korça region. Tourism is starting to become established in the area, especially in the last year and there are a number of small hotels and guesthouses to accommodate visitors. There have been features on TV about the area which have resulted in increased number of tourist arrivals. It boasts 10 kms of coastline, partly rocky and partly sandy that is still undeveloped. There is an Italian project underway to prepare the beaches for tourism. The area was declared a tourist zone in 1994 stating that and no new buildings can be constructed within 200 metres of the lake shore. There has been interest in developing tourist facilities from investors from as far as the United States. The villages offer a distinctive culture, wonderful scenery and opportunities to enjoy the surrounding nature and a special cuisine that attract visitors from all over. The cultural heritage of the area includes 8 churches built inside caves, the most famous of which is located on the island of Mali Grad, the 14th C St Mary church. Other historical assets include Byzantine churches, roman roads and bridges. There are plans for a pre-historical museum going back to 7,000 BC, the development of which will be supported by the UNDP. Visitors can hire boats and go fishing but they would need to know someone of the area, there is no equipment to rent (boats and fishing tackle) so this aspect of tourism is not properly developed and exploited. At` the moment, there is no border with Macedonia but a new road is being built which will provide access to the area from Macedonia. An MOU has been signed with the Greek and Macedonian authorities to open the borders and the Prespa Park Committee meets every month. The villages near Ohrid Lake include Lin which is located on the mid-western shore of the lake. Lin houses an important archaeological find, a 6th and 7th century mosaic created during the rule of Emperor Justinian of Byzantine. However, it cannot be seen as it is covered up for protection. The village has a problem of potable water which is hampering tourism development. A tourism map of the Prespa area at the entrance of the national park The village of Liqenas in Prespa Commune
  • 5. Along Ohrid Lake shore, there is a 25 km beach from Lin to Tushemisht, past Pogradec. The village of Tushemisht, just 5 km from the Macedonian border, comprises 300 houses and a 19C church. Tourism is relatively well developed with several hotels and guest houses on the lake. Drilon is located near Tushemisht was the holiday resort for Enver Hoxha until 1990 (the building is now a hotel). It is a hot water spring amongst lavish vegetation in very relaxing surroundings. The villages of Kolonja include Rehova near Erseka and Borova. Rehova is a traditional Kolonje village located at the base of Gramoz Mountains with stone made houses and cobble stone streets and a church, originally built in the 17C. It comprises 120 homes and 300 residents. The traditions, music and handicrafts of the village are distinctive but not yet presented for tourism. Although there is a desire to develop tourism in the village, a recent assessment by an expert concluded that there is a need to develop many services and this will take some time. Borova is an attractive village located 10 minutes south of Erseka. There is a World War II monument cemetery to commemorate the massacre of 106 village residents by German soldiers as a retribution for a partisan attack on a German military convoy near Barmash. A museum is planned to further commemorate this event. An early 19 century stone bridge built across a canyon is still perfectly preserved. Cultural and Historical Products The Korça region is renowned in Albania for its history and its cultural heritage. Churches and Mosques There are churches and mosques throughout the region. Here is just a small selection of buildings that can be enjoyed by tourists.  The cathedral in Korça City, largest Orthodox church in Albania  The churches of Voskopoja (St Mary’s, 18C; St Nicholas, 18C; Monastery of St Joan; 17C)  The monasteries in Vithkuq and Voskopoja  St Mary’s church on Mali Grad island, Prespa Lake  The mosque in Korça City – the oldest building in Korça City and oldest mosque in Albania  St Peter’s church and St Thanas Church in Darhda Lin village on Ohrid Lake The memorial at Borova
  • 6. Poets, Writers and Painters The intellectual, literary and artistic heritage of the Korça Region is renowned around the world. Famous poets and writers include among others:  Theofan Noli (Fan), a son of Erseka, served as prime minister of Albania as well as regent in the 1920s. He was an ordained priest and founded the Albanian Orthodox Church. He was a noted writer and poet. The Fan Stilian Noli Centre in Erseka city presents a number of artistic and cultural programmes round the year. Its main auditorium has a capacity to seat 400 spectators.  Sterjo Spase was a poet from Prespa and a well known Albanian writer of Macedonian origin. His son Ilinden is also a well known author who writes in both Albanian and Macedonian.  There are several writers from Pogradec which is known as the ‘City of Poets’. These include the poet Lasgush Poradeci and the writer Mitrush Kuteli.  The celebrated painter Vangjush Mio was born in the village of Vithkuq in 1891. He specialised in landscapes of the Korça Region and became known as the ‘People’s Artist’. Museums There are five museums in Korça City: the Medieval Art Museum with 7,000 icons, of which only 250 are presently displayed, the largest icon museum in the Balkans; the Archaeological Museum (prehistoric life of the region); the Education Museum located on the second floor of the first Albanian Language School; the house of the landscape painter, Vangjush Mio and the Oriental Art museum ‘Bratko’. The Erseka ethnographic museum, presents history of the region with; but no information in English. Attached to the Tumulus of Kamenica, is a very interesting interpretation centre describing the findings at the site and presenting the life of the Illyrians. Archaeological sites and Castles A number of archaeological sites can be found in the region including:  The Tumulus of Kamenica, a recently excavated funerary structure at an Illyrian settlement. The museum documents the rituals and lives of a community that lived between the end of the 13th C and the 6th C BC The cathedral in Korça City, largest Orthodox church in Albania The monastery at Vithkuq The Tumulus of Kamenica
  • 7.  Settlements since Neolithic times (6 C BC)  4th C cemetery of Selca  The Roman road, the ‘Via Egnatia’  The Bridge of Goliku – Apostle Paul walked the bridge on the way to Constantinople  Archaeological excavations above the City of Pogradec uncovered a 5th C Illyrian settlement  The mosaic at Lin, 5th – 6th Century AD  The remains of a Castle walls first built in the 5th Century and 11th century is located on the hill above Pogradec. Festivals and Events The region is gaining a reputation as one of festivals and events – especially Korça City which is now known as the ‘City of Celebrations’. Other areas of the region are developing fairs and festivals. These include: Popular Celebrations  Voskopoja (24 June Saint Prodhrom)  Celebration Day of Church of Mborje (40 days after Easter)  Vithkuq Saint Peter. Fair (29 June)  Dardha Saint Maria (16 August)  Prespa (Christmas, January 7-9) New Year (14 of January)  Prespa Folk Festival (11 October)  Prespa, Cultural Summer Week (2-10 August)  Prespa, Wine Day, December  Pogradec “Xinxifilo” European Festival of Marionettes (17-25 January)  Pogradec, Lake Ohrid Day (June 21st)  Pogradec, Poetic Night (June 21st)  Pogradec, Autumn Poetic Night: October  Pogradec, Festival of Wine (December 11 – 12)  Pogradec, The most successful people of the year (December 29)  Pogradec, Opening of the tourist season (June 20)  Kolonja, Festival of Saint Nicolas and Vodica village. December 6 and May 20  Kolonja Festival of Saint Peter in Rehova village. June 29  Kolonja Day of Honour for the Borova Martyrs. July 6  Kolonja High School Graduation. July, date changes Korça City events (some of the events and dates are not established yet for 2014) MAY
  • 8. “Pranvera” – painting exhibition - Cultural Centre Vangjush Mio JUNE June 1st Celebrating together – children day - Rinia Park Book fair, Thimi Mitko library June 21 Korça Carnivals, City Centre JULY Symposium “Park sculpture”, Rinia Park AUGUST August Beer festival SEPTEMBER September 7 Pie festival September 22 to 29 Cultural week September 29 Cultural heritage day - free visit in the museums and galleries of the city OCTOBER October 25-28 The international colony of figurative artists, Cultural Centre Vangjush Mio NOVEMBER November 28 Independence Day November 29 Liberation Day DECEMBER December 1 Commencement of the End year/Christmas Fair December 20 National Competition of Figurative Artists, Cultural Centre Vangjush Mio Cuisine The cuisine of the region is reputed throughout Albania for its freshness and organic qualities. The villages by the lakes offer unique fish dishes such as the Koran trout from Ohrid Lake, the Silvery Belushka fish and Carp and Marenë only found in Prespa Lake. The villages offer dishes based on their agricultural heritage and local resources. These include fire-baked pies; Bacori
  • 9. (pie made of corn flower); Byrek; winter Pasta; Dromka (homemade pasta); Petka; Pastërma (dry meat); fried snails; mushrooms; Tërhana (a type of sweet and sour cream soup); dry fruit; honey and different kinds of jam, apple dishes from Erseka and Kulaç (scone). The wine and raki of the region is also well known, in particular the wineries of Leskovik. However, these are not prepared to receive tourists although this would be an excellent tourist product for the future Music, Dance and Folklore The Korça Region and Korça City in particular, is associated with the famous Serenades and with people coming from all over Albania to hear the music – especially as played at the Skena Park club. There is a proposal to brand Korça City with the mandolin with a large monument representing a mandolin is planned for one of the central squares of the city. Each area has its own music, dance and folklore with distinctive costumes. There are excellent handicrafts and local specialities like the handmade carpets and blankets, knitting and embroidery of Pogradec and the felt processing and traditional folk dancing costumes of Dardha, the table clothes, wine and raki of Kolonja as well as earthenware and carvings. However, the sector is not organised at all and there are few opportunities for tourists to buy the crafts and specialities of the area. Nature-based Tourism Products The Korça Region has exceptional nature assets including world famous lakes and spectacular mountains. There are national parks like the Prespa National Park, Drenova National Park and the Germenj National Park. Lakes Ohrid Lake is one of the oldest lakes in Europe with Lake Baikal in Siberia possessing a unique ecosystem with 200 endemic species. It is also one of the deepest lake in Europe at 288 m in depth. The lake was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It has a surface area of 358 km2 , and 87,53 km of shoreline, 31.54 km of which are in Albania, the rest in Macedonia. The famous Prespa dish of Carp fish The wineries of Leskovik are not yet ready for tourism but produce excellent wine and raki Singing the serenades The folkloric costumes of Vithkuq
  • 10. Pogradec (and its surroundings) is the main resort destination in the Korça Region has been attracting leisure visitors for a long time. Unfortunately there has been some environmental damage and a project is underway financed by the German Bank, KfW to reverse the problems and clean up the pollution in the lake. Prespa Lake has a surface area of 285 sq Km, 49.5 sq km of which are in Albania. There are in fact two lakes in the Prespa area (one larger lake and a smaller one, Micro Prespa), which is shared by Greece, Macedonia and Albania. It is the highest lakes eco-system in the Balkans at 853 m in altitude. It has several islands, including Mali Grad opposite the village of Liqenas. There are 39 endemic species associated with the Prespa Lakes. Micro Prespa Lake in particular has been recognised as an important wetland ecosystems favouring breeding and feeding of rare water bird species. The flora in the region is abundant with more than 1500 plant species. Although some environmental damage is starting to show, not least because two villages as ejecting their sewages directly into the lake, a Local Development Plan financed through the KfW German Bank is being introduced and a solid waste management programme is now employing 3 people at two centres in the Liqenas commune. A water treatment project is planned for an investment of €500,000. It is possible to rent boats and fish but there is no equipment for hire. Fishing out of season is a problem (May-July). National Parks The Germenj National Park and nature reserve has a surface area of 7,300 ha and is rich in fauna including bears, wolves and deer. It is located in Kolonja Area in the south of the region. A management and tourism plan has been proposed for the park which recommends the planning and development of hiking trails and the opening up of the park for tourism in conjunction with the Gremenj Forest Association. The Prespa National Park was established in 1999 for the rehabilitation and sustainable protection of critical terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the Prespa Lakes. It has an area of 27,750 ha and is largest park in the country. The village of Gorica is the centre where park employees live and a park information centre is located. The park accommodates several ecosystems. It is located in a mountainous area with caves and forests to explore and a very rich flora of 1,500 types of plants which are exploited for a variety of uses (medicinal, aromatic, as colouring for textiles …). One of the rare species of birds that live in the park is the Dalmatian pelican. However, some of the animal species are disappearing – bears (not hunted), wolves (hunted), and wild boars (disappearing). There are several interesting caves to explore such as Mali Grad Island on Prespa Lake where the14C St Mary Church is located Ohrid Lake has spectacular views
  • 11. the Zaver cave with a network of underground waterways and the Tren cave which was inhabited in Neolithic times as well as numerous cultural and historic sites previously listed. Drenova National Park is rich in fauna (bears, wild boars and pheasant) in its forest. It is known for its hazelnut trees, fir trees, beech and black pine. Mountains, Rivers, Hiking and Skiing The Gramozi Mountain, the third highest mountain in Albania is located in Kolonja in the South of the region. It is possible to hike four and a half hour from Erseka to the top of the mountain to see a glacier lake and 2 hours from Erseka to reach a spectacular waterfall. The Osum River, a tributary of the Upper Devoli River, offers activities such as swimming and fresh farmed fish are served at local restaurants. Located near Korça City, the Morova Mountain range offers possibilities for skiing. A project for a ski resort has been proposed which will include two hotels. Organised skiing areas are at an early developmental stage in the region with possibilities of enjoying the sport at a few locations including Akademia in Voskopoja and at a new hotel at Dardha which is still being built. Presently no tow-ropes or chairlifts exist at any of these locations. A few service providers organised activities in nature for their clients. Akademia in Voskopoja offers activities mostly for school groups which include horse riding and skiing. Crossroads Camp and Conference Centre in the Erseka area offers summer camps for young people. Activities include rock climbing, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, and team building. The Taverna Peshku, offering three villas, located between Erseka and Leskovik has horses and tourists can explore the Germenj National Park with a guide from the taverna. 1.1.1 City Tourism Korça City Built on a former Illyrian settlement, Korça City is located in the foothills of the Morava Mountains at an altitude of 896 meters. With a population of approximately 70,000, the city lies on a fertile plain which is the basis of its economy. It is one of the main wheat-growing areas of Albania. It also specialises in light industries such as textiles and rug manufacturing, flour- milling, brewing (the famous Korça beer), construction block manufacturing and sugar refining. Mining of lignite coal takes place in the surrounding mountains. Several occupations throughout history have left their mark on the city. Its architecture reflects different periods of its past. Under The Gramozi mountain range in winter Excursions in the Germenj National Park set out from Taverna Peshku The cobblestones alleys of Korça City
  • 12. the Ottomans until the 19th century, houses with balconies characterised the architecture of the city; the city became an important trading centre and the urban system was developed and the bazaar reconstructed; a subsequent period brought shops, administrative buildings, yards and orchards, iron fences and marble to the city. At the beginning of the 20th century the town was occupied by the Greeks as well as the French. The four year occupation of the city by France between 1916 and 1920 during the First World War influenced the architecture of the buildings with the association with France continues today – a French school is still operating in the city and there are cultural exchanges with French institutions. A French cemetery where 640 French soldiers were laid to rest is also located in the city. In fact the city was labelled the ‘little Paris’. Korça City is associated with sophistication, history and culture which are well represented by its five museums, the churches including the largest cathedral in Albania and the oldest cultural building in town, the Mirahori Mosque. The city has a distinctive feel about it, from the cosmopolitan boulevards in the centre, in particular the Republika Boulevard, to the cobbled stoned alleyways. Korça is well known in Albania as a city which has kept its character despite the damages caused during the communist period and the recent construction of buildings which do not fit in with the historical and quaint appeal of the city. Whilst its attractions have great potential for tourism, currently the city is not ‘tourist friendly’. There is no directional signage to attractions, some are closed during official opening hours, restaurants are difficult to find and do not display what they offer or indeed few have menus in another language other than Albanian. Pogradec Pogradec, the capital of the Pogradec Area has a population of over 30,000. It is the second largest city in the region, located on the south shore of Orhid Lake. Because of it beautiful setting, every year it receives the greatest number of tourist arrivals in the region. Enver Hoxha the communist leader, used to spend his leisure time in the area. The city has a long history going back to 6,000 BC and has been settled by a number of different tribes and different cultures throughout its history having left their mark. The city is overlooked by the remains of a fifth century castle. It is known as a city of art and culture and is referred to as the ‘City of Poets’. A paved, semi-pedestrian area has recently been added to the city near the banks of the lake and the shoreline is being cleared and landscaped to offer a park area along the sandy beach. The city has the greatest number of hotel beds in the region and lately tourists can enjoy entertainment at restaurants and bars. The cuisine of the area is particularly well known, especially the Koran trout found only in the Ohrid and Baikal Lakes in Siberia. Erseka The paved area of Pogradec
  • 13. Erseka is the third city in the Korça Region and the capital of the Kolonja Area. Located in the Gramozi Mountains at over 1,000 m in altitude, it is the highest city in Albania. Its economy is based on agriculture and it is particularly well known for its apples and honey. Erseka has a proud history and many famous patriots and intellectuals originate from the city, including Fan Noli and Jani Vreto amongst many others. It has its own music, dance, and traditional dresses. The Fan Stilian Noli centre presents artistic and cultural events throughout the year The city today is relaxed with a friendly community and serves as a base to visit the beautiful Kolonja Area. The centre of Erseka
  • 14. Tourism Facilities in the Korça Region Until recently, tourism was a secondary industry in the Korça Region, except in Pogradec. No survey has been carried out to analyse the commercial structure of the sector. However, it is estimated that the following facilities exist for tourists:  Korça City: 9 hotels, 600 beds  Pogradec: 27 hotels, 900 beds; 10 guesthouses and rented apartments  Erseka Area: 3 hotels, 57 beds; 7 guesthouses  Prespa Area: 2 hotels, 25-30 beds, 30 guesthouses  Voskopoja: 4 hotels, 400 beds; 20 guesthouses  Dardha: 3 hotels, 100 beds and 10 guesthouses  Vithkuq: 2 hotels, 30 beds; a number of guesthouses and home stays  Boboshtica: 5 guesthouses The region is well endowed with excellent restaurants and several villages offer unique local cuisine. There are only a few outbound travel agents in Korça City and Pogradec and a few tour guides. There is only one tour operator located in Korça City. As tourism develops in the region, the number of service providers will increase. Current Tourist Markets Visiting the Korça Region Little research has been carried out on tourism market segments visiting the Korça Region. Some figures are provided in the GTZ-sponsored strategy but it also warns that these, limited to the data collected from hotel registration in Pogradec and Korça City, do not reflect reality. Therefore the range and size of the tourism markets visiting the Korça Region at this time can only be estimated by interviewing key informants such as tour operators, hoteliers, travel agents… and compiling their views to produce a realistic segmentation. Some information pertaining to the region’s markets was provided through the development of Market Profiles by the TACs contained in the four TAPs. However, these profiles were developed based upon the ‘perceptions’ of the TAC members and not based on hard data. It is imperative that a solid statistical system is introduced to understand where visitors to the region are coming from, their profile and behaviour as well as the performance of the sector if it is going to be suitably managed in the future. Fortunately a SNV UNWTO-sponsored ‘Regional Tourism Data Base’ project is currently underway through the ST-EP Korça Region Tourism Destination Development / Management Programme and a system is in place by May 2009.
  • 15. The Domestic Market (including Albanian Communities living in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albanians living in Greece) This is by far the largest existing market to the Korça Region which is attracted for a number of motives. Leisure tourism is focused around the Ohrid Lake and Pogradec is the destination for these tourists, particularly in the summer. Increasingly the domestic market from the main centres of Albania like Tirana and Elbasan are discovering villages of Prespa Lake and the other traditional villages of the region to enjoy the reputed local cuisine offered in tavernas, the good climate and fresh air and nature activities such as enjoying the snow and skiing in winter. Festivals and fairs, particularly those organised in Korça City in the last couple of years but also in other centres such as Pogradec, are gaining a reputation throughout the country and attracting domestic tourists from all over. The tourism department at the municipality in Pogradec estimated that there were 150,000 visitors in 2013 staying at its 27 hotels for weekends and in summer for 5 to 10 days. Foreigners only accounted for 10000 visitors but a growing number of tourists were from Kosovo and Macedonia. It is impossible to estimate the size of this market as no survey for the whole region has ever been carried out. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been a considerable growth in arrivals from the domestic market, mainly due to the varied events and festivals organised in the region over the last year. There are a number of sub-segments within the domestic market, from families choosing to spend time in the area, to young people, school groups, middle aged and elderly visitors on organised outings, people visiting their friends and relatives, visitors on business as well as local tourists from the Korça Region enjoying weekends and day excursions in other parts of the region and visitors from other parts of the country like Tirana. Therefore there are a range of markets which will enjoy different combinations of the region’s tourism assets. There are certain markets that are not strictly domestic but can be reached through domestic channels. These include the large Albanian communities of Kosovo and of Macedonia as well as Albanians now living in Greece where they have moved for work – many of which have bought second homes in Albania. It is estimated by the Watson Institute that there are 600,000 Greeks of Albanian descent1 . These populations watch the same TV stations than the domestic market – especially satellite TV -, read the same newspapers and listen to the same radio stations. MTCYS figure show Kosovo is the greater tourist generating market for Albania followed by Macedonia. There has been a large increase from these markets in recent years due to increased stability in Kosovo and to deteriorating relations between Greece and Macedonia. It is noted that there is an increase of Slav Macedonian tourists who are starting to discover the tourism attributes of Albania and its advantageous prices. During the war, many people from Kosovo were hosted in Albania and have got to know the country and what it has to offer. Before the 1990s, these markets tended to go to Montenegro for their vacations. Today, they predominantly visit the Mediterranean coast in Albania, although stakeholders in the Korça Region report that they have noted an increased number of Macedonians in particular in the last couple of years. There are 1 http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Albanians
  • 16. also Albanian communities in other Balkan countries. It is estimated that in total there are 7 million Albanians in the Balkans, only half of which live in Albania. According to key informants interviewed for this study, emigrants who have left Albania since the change of regime now return home for the following reasons:  to Visit Friends and Relatives  inner motivation – socialising with people; sense of belonging to a community  self esteem – to show their elevated social position  for medical reasons – treatment tends to be cheaper in Albania  to combine vacations with visiting friends and relatives It is important that these markets are researched, from a national perspective but also as future markets for the Korça Region. Ethnic Albanians living in Other Countries These include the Albanian communities in the United States, Canada, Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Australia and the Middle East. It is estimated that there are 1.8 million people of Albanian extraction living abroad2 . However, no research has been undertaken to obtain an accurate figure. These fall into two main market segments:  those that emigrated prior to the establishment of the communist regime. They emigrated in the 1930s and the 1940s and now this market segment comprises several generations. Many cannot speak Albanian, may never have been to Albania and may only know about the country through recollections of relatives;  those that emigrated after the fall of the communist regime; this wave started in the early 1990s and is continuing today. There may be two or three generations, the younger members of this segment will probably have been born in their country of residence. This market segment still has family and friends in Albania and this is a main motivation for returning to the country. This is also the market segment that is most likely to buy second homes in Albania, usually in the area they originate from. Within this market segment there are also sub-segments. Whilst they mainly emigrated for economic reasons, they came from different walks of life – many taking low paid jobs, sometimes not using qualifications and skills that they acquired at home but trying to achieve a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Through emigration, Albania has suffered a great loss of its intellectual capital – a brain drain. According to a UNDP project3 , between 1990 and 2003, 45% of university professors and researchers and 65% of PhDs in Albania emigrated. 2 http://www.globalb.co.uk/foundation/eng/background.htm 3 Brain Gain – Engaging Diaspora in Albania’s Development; UNDP, 2007.
  • 17. Both segments behave differently as they have had diverse and differing life experiences. American and Canadian Albanians This is a large market which is easily reached through:  associations and organisations (i.e. National Albanian American Council, the Albanian American Civic League, the Frosina Information Network, Albanian American Womans Organization, Massachusetts Albanian American Society… A list of Albanian American organisations can be found on the following web page http://www.naac.org/partner.php),  international media in Albanian (i.e. TV – Albanian Culture TV -, newspapers, the radio – Radio Alba - and the Internet),  Albanian Language Schools like the one in Boston and  specialist tour operators. The size of this market is difficult to estimate as there is little information about this. The biggest concentration of Albanian Americans is in the New York and Boston areas in the US. It is estimated that there are 200,000 Albanian Americans in the New York area4 and the Massachusetts Albanian American Society states that there are currently approximately 30,000 people of Albanian decent residing in Massachusetts. The majority of Canadians from Albanian descent live in Toronto or Montreal. Albanians in the US and Canada are well represented in all echelons of society. Famous Albanian Americans include the Belushi Brothers, Jim and John, whose family were originally from the Korça Region (and Jim Belushi is now investing in the region); Joseph Dio Guardi, a past US Congressman, his wife Shirley a co-founder of the American Albanian civic league and his daughter Kara, a song writer, record producer, singer and judge on the American Idol show; Emina Cunmulaj, a top model; as well several famous up and coming writers such as Agim Bacelli who was born and raised in Korça City, a poet and writer who emigrated to the States in 1995; Merita Bajraktari McCormack – born in Korça City, grew up in Cangonj village (her lyrics have been turned into songs – the famous serenades of Korça); Albana Melyshi Lifschin – a writer living in New York since 1992; and Rozi Theohari – poet and author who emigrated in 1994. A list of notable Albanian Americans can be found at this web page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Albanian-Americans. 4 http://kosovo.birn.eu.com/en/1/70/3611/
  • 18. People of Albanian descent in other Countries of the World Through the waves of emigration before and after the communist era, Albanians have settled in countries around the world. These communities have in common a sense of kinship and there are associations and organisations in most countries where there are Albanian communities It is estimated that there are around 1 million Albanians living in various European countries such as the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and France. The majority of which have arrived since 1991). As with the Greek Albanians, these will return home to visit friends and relatives as well as for holidays. There is an Albanian community in Egypt numbering around 18,0005 as well as communities located throughout the Middle East. The Albanian Association in Middle East is located in Dubai (see http://www.aa-me.org/EN/home.html ). By 1920, there were 1,000 Albanians settled in Australia. In the 2006 census, there were 2,000 Australians born in Albania and over 11,000 Australians of Albanian descent mostly in Northern Queensland, Western Australia and Shepparton in Victoria. SBS Radio has an Albanian channel. There are a number of associations in the different Australian States. A list can be found at this web page: http://radio.sbs.com.au/language.php?page=info&language=Albanian#). These markets can be an important source of future visitors for the Korça Region. However, Albania has an image problem that needs to be overcome. Older emigrants remember the days when Albania was closed to the world and have lost touch with today’s improving reality and more recent emigrants remember the chaos following the return to democracy, the financial turmoil caused by the failure of the pyramid schemes in 1997 and many imagine that Albania is still in this state. Awareness has to be built and promoted pertaining to current much-improved situation in Albania. Therefore image building must be a vital step in the marketing strategy. Foreign Tour Group Market According to key informants interviewed for this study, there are approximately 50,000 foreign tourists that come to Albania on organised tours using tour operators, of these just 5% to 10% include the Korça Region in their travels. Therefore, the number of foreign tourists on organised tours that annually visit the Korça Region is 3,000 to 5,000. In recent years, the greatest number of tourists visiting Albania on tours came from Eastern Europe, in particular Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, from Western Europe, Germany, Scandinavia and from the Mediterranean, specifically Israeli tourists. Tours include the Grand Albanian Tour which is a comprehensive itinerary visiting all the main cities and sites in Albania. Unfortunately the Korça Region is not always featured on the itineraries offered. 5 http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Albanians
  • 19. Albania is also included in some multi-country itineraries, for instance along the Croatian coast via Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina through Montenegro. These will usually visit Tirana and some of the historic sites of Albania (for an example see The Balkan Mosaic classical tour at http://www.bestway.com/itineraries/t054.php). These rarely include the Korça Region although they may pass through it (The Balkan Mosaic tour visits Ohrid Lake but stays in Macedonia and travels straight to Tirana on the next leg of the journey). This can be an important market which would be reached through tour operators. Therefore it is essential to concentrate the marketing effort on encouraging tour operators to feature the Korça Region in their itineraries, particularly those operators presently travelling through the region. This means inviting them to see the area for themselves and preparing packages of activities that they can offer their clients. This will also keep tourists longer in the area. There will be a need for some image building to acquaint potential tourists with what there is to enjoy in the Korça Region. This is best done by generating media interest and inviting journalists to discover the area and write about it. Independent Traveller Market These come to the Korça Region for a variety of reasons, from visiting friends and relatives, for business or work or simply for leisure. As they are difficult to classify they are also difficult to market to. There are no figures for the number of arrivals from independent travellers although in the analysis carried out for the TAPs there is an indication of visitor profiles which includes different types of independent travellers. This broad market will use a range of accommodation and will enjoy many of the region’s tourism products if it has time. The best way of influencing this market is by providing it with plenty of information, local tour guides, good directional as well as informational signage, maps, and inclusion of information on the area in guide books as well as on the internet. It is important that articles about the region regularly feature in major publications with details of how to visit the destination, what to do there, where to stay, the best restaurants, etc… PR is one of the best marketing channels for this market. Cross Border Market As the Korça Region borders both Macedonia and Greece, inevitably there is a significant amount of cross border movement for business, shopping and for leisure. Mostly these are independent travellers. There is evidence that tour operators are now organising excursions in neighbouring countries, for instance tour buses visiting Korça City with tourists enjoying lunch at a local hotel after visiting the museums. However, the visits tend to be ad hoc with no regular schedule. According to key informants interviewed for this study, tour operators in Greece and to a lesser extent in Macedonia are keen to develop business partnerships with service providers from the Korça Region. There is also interest in developing three country itineraries which can be offered to the larger market although there are a number of issues to smooth out such as visas. Currently this market is limited but may be successful in the future if linkages can be fostered between operators in each country.
  • 20. Business Tourism Market Travellers on business are catered for in the three main cities of the region. There are a several locations which provide services for business meeting and seminars in the main cities, at hotels by Ohrid Lake and at the Academia Hotel in Voskopoja. Larger gatherings such as conferences and conventions can be hosted in Korça City and in Pogradec. There are no figures for the number of business travellers to the region, however anecdotal evidence and hotel occupancy data would suggest that there is a substantial business market to the main centres of the region. The Product / Market Fit The Product / Market Fit is a technique which is used to analyse the products that tourists visiting a destination enjoy. The Korça Marketing and Product Development Strategy Working Group, convened to consider issues arising during the project, went through a Product / Market Fit exercise to reflect on the link between markets attracted to the region and products that they consume during their visit. This method provides a simple grading system to assess markets and products at a destination. A matrix is developed listing all the markets visiting the region in columns and the products available in the region in rows. Two points are allocated to products which are of particular interest to a specific market; one point to products which the market is somewhat interested in; and no point if the market has no interest in the product. The scores across the markets for each product are totalled (column on the right of the matrix). This indicates the products that are of most interest to the greater number of markets. The scores for each market are totalled (last row). This indicated the markets that enjoy the greatest number of products in the region. The results of the approach allow us to make a number of inferences about products and markets in the Korça Region which are discussed below. Products It is clear that both soft culture (i.e. intangible culture such as arts, crafts, folklore and society) and hard culture (i.e. historical and contemporary monuments) are the greatest pull factors to the Korça Region. ‘Cuisine and Drinks’ and ‘Music and Events’ score the highest amongst the majority of markets closely followed by more tangible culture including ‘Churches and Museums’ and Villages. In fact there is a close link between Villages, ‘Cuisine and drinks’ and ‘Music and events’. History also scores very highly and historical attractions are popular with many of the market segments. Nature is a strong pull factor to the Korça Region with ‘Mountains and Lakes’ scoring high. However, it is also apparent that currently visitors do not participate in many activities in nature surroundings such as cycling and horse riding. Hiking is the activity that is enjoyed the most, but that is still fairly limited. The lack of organised activities, information on what is possible to do in the area and the few opportunities to rent equipment and facilities to actively enjoy Korça’s natural environment is hindering the development of nature tourism and ecotourism. According to anecdotal evidence from the volunteer Tourist Information Office in Korça, 80% of enquires
  • 21. last year were from visitors wanting to know about cycling possibilities in the area. This would indicate that new products could be developed in the region. It is clear that nature is an important tourism asset for the region but its potential is not being realised. Market Segments According to the analysis of the Korça Marketing and Product Development Strategy Working Group, independent foreign visitors enjoy most products in the Korça Region. Although this is a broad category, it can be presumed that the independent traveller is under less time pressure than other market segments and will take time to explore the region and participate in as many activities as possible, enjoying all the experiences that are on offer. However, the number of visitors is estimated to be currently fairly small (although data is not readily available yet) and targeting the marketing effort to this segment is harder than to well defined segments like tour groups which can be reached through tour operators and geographically demarcated segments such as Albanian Americans and Canadians. Foreign residents with Albanian background fall into 3 main categories: Albanian that emigrated in the 1930s and 1940s – a substantial number are located in the US; Albanians that emigrated in the 1990s after the change of regime; and ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Macedonia. Albanian Americans and Canadians are potentially a strong market segments and, according to the brainstorming, enjoy a variety of products in the Korça Region. The advantage of marketing to this group is that they are fairly easily located through the various associations that exist in the United States and Canada, and can be reached through well defined marketing channels such as associations, newspapers and newsletters as well as Albanian television in the US. Products in the region can be tailored to their needs. The domestic market is strong; particularly the domestic middle aged visitors, the domestic youth and school groups. They enjoy the regions soft culture as well as its nature. The youth and school groups enjoy the opportunities for active tourism such as sports. However, this is still not well developed in the region. Tour groups are also a good market to target. The potential of combining tours with neighbouring countries (cross-border products) must be explored so that the Korça region can offer a product that is distinct from those in the other countries and represents the diversity of Albania in the package. Independent visitors from neighbouring countries will include Albanian immigrants returning home to visit friends and relatives, those that have invested in property in the Korça Region but also tourists visiting Albania for a change of scenery and culture (i.e. weekend visit) or for shopping. These are more difficult to market to buy products should be made available to them and well publicised so that they are aware of them and can find them easily.
  • 22. Table 4.1 PPRROODDUUCCTT // MMAARRKKEETT FFIITT -- KKOORRÇÇAA RREEGGIIOONN Products Market Segments Domestic middleage Domesticfamilies Domesticyouth Schools American/Can. Albanians Albanians: Kos/Mac/Greece Albanians:Others Tourgroups Independent neigh. Independent others Business/MICE TOTAL Villages 2 2 1 2 2 0 2 2 1 2 1 17 Churches/ Museums 2 1.5 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 18.5 History (arch./medieval) 1 1 0 2 2 1 1 2 2 2 1 15 Mountains / nature 1 1 2 2 2 0 1 1 1 2 1 14 Lakes / beaches 2 2 2 1 1 0 1 1 2 2 0 14 Hiking/walking 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 2 1 8 Cycling 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 3 Horse riding 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 Skiing 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 5 Bird watching 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 Cuisine/drinks 2 2 2 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 20 Music/events 2 2 2 2 1.5 1 2 2 1 2 2 19.5 Handicrafts 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 1 2 2 2 13 Communist era 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 2 1 5 Sports 1 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 6 Matrimonial 1 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 5 Total 17 12.5 15 16 18.5 6 14 15 16 23 13
  • 23. 4.3 Planned Developments in the Korça Region which Affect Tourism As with the rest of Albania, the Korça Region is currently going through a period of development and transformation. The following projects are underway which ultimately improved tourism in the project area: Table 4.2 Project Location Description of the Project Comple- tion date Pedestrianised areas in Korça City Korça City A large part of the city centre around the cathedral and down one of the main boulevards is pedrestrianised, beautifying the city centre and offering shops, restaurants and bars for residents and tourists to enjoy. This has passed through public consultation and has been approved. 2013 Reconstruction and revitalisation of Korça old bazaar Korça City The Old Bazaar is one of the most important attractions in Korça Region seeped in history and tradition. Its reconstruction will contribute to tourism development and will be an important attraction for the city. A US$10 million project has been proposed through the Ministry and the Council of Europe. Long term Upgrading of the road to Voskopoja Voskopoja Voskopoja is a tourist village, well known in Albania and abroad. It is visited throughout the year, especially from other areas of Albania. Better road infrastructure will increase the number of tourists to Voskopoja, facilitating access to the village. 2013 Construction of the road from Korça City to Morava mountain Outside Korça City Morava Mountain is very close of Korça City. An urban study was completed and approved. The road construction will attract investors (national and international) to implement the plan. Road is improvet but is still ongoing the new Resort Centre. 2014 Upgrading of sewerage the system in Korça and Pogradec Korça City and Pogradec This is a very important investment for the region, and a big contribution to infrastructure development and to the improvement of the quality of life of the community. This project will be link with the upgrading of roads in the cities, therefore improving the internal roads infrastructure and the image of the cities and the region. 2014 New Urban Land Use Plan for Erseka Erseka City The new urban land use plan of the city will attract entrepreneurs and investors, and provide a new ‘face’ for the city. Plan complete d in 2008 Reconstruction of the national road to Prespa Prespa Area This road links the Albanian side with the Macedonian side upgrading the border route, thus improving tourist links between the countries. 2009
  • 24. Project Location Description of the Project Comple- tion date Tourism Information Centres Korça and Pogradec Cities These are crucial for the Korça region as to date there is no official TIC except from a private initiative in Korça City. This will coincide with the implementation of the main objectives of the local TAPs in Korça Region 2009 – on going Construction of a new Medieval Museum Korça City This museum will be one of the biggest and most important in Balkans Long term National Olympic Centre Korça City This centre will cater for national and international sports activities, providing high standards and a new dimension the city. Government support is still sought for this plan. This is a US$40 million dollar project proposal. Long term Restoration of churches and mosques Korça Region Restoration is ongoing or planned at several churches and mosques which will greatly add to the tourism attraction of the Korça Region. 2009- 2014 Feasibility study for an airport Korça City Funds are being sought for a feasibility study Long term These developments will improve the prospects for tourism in the Korça Region over the next few years and the marketing and product development strategy must take them into account. 5.1 The Tour Operator Survey The tour operator survey was carried out in 2013 with the main tour operators in Tirana that feature the Korça Region in their product offer. Some 15 surveys were returned, and whilst not all tour operators currently feature the Korça Region, they all gave their perceptions of the region as a tourism destination for their clients. The operators that include the Korça Region in their packages tend to spend 1 or 2 nights in the area with just one spending 3 nights. The greatest attractions visited are the museums in Korça City, in particular the Museum of Medieval Art and the churches of Voskopoja. Indeed, the longer the stay, the more attractions are visited, especially Dardha village and Tumulus of Kamenica. This suggests that it is important to encourage operators to stay longer in the region. Some operators specialise in nature tours and include the Prespa Lake in their offer. It should be noted that none of the operators interviewed featured Kolonja. Asked whether they expected that the market to the Korça Region would grow in the next three years, all operators that offer tours to the area as well as some that presently do not yet overwhelmingly thought it would (except for one who thought it would remain the same). Reasons quoted included the fact that it is a relatively new destination for tour operators, increased promotion and awareness about the area and the attraction of a rich cultural destination. The clients they bring to the area tended to mostly fall in the middle class category and are of varying ages and group composition (i.e. visiting with families, individuals, friends etc…). All
  • 25. operators catered to the foreign market except for one who would be interested in bringing domestic groups if packages were offered to accommodate them. All the respondents felt that ‘culture’ was the image mostly associated with the Korça Region with several also mentioning the hospitable people, the climate and the architecture of the houses. This is reflected in their perception that culture and climate are the main strengths of the destination. The weaknesses of the destinations and the biggest restrictions to their operation included difficult access and bad roads, no airport, lack of information and promotion on the Korça region, limited range of activities, poor services, weak infrastructure and average quality and lack of higher quality accommodation. The main difficulties encountered by the operators to work and operate in the Korça Region were lack of prepared packages for them to include in their offer and no partners to collaborate with. It is only Go Albania that operates in the Korca Region as an incoming tour operator. The operators were asked to make recommendations that will help stimulate tourism to the Korça Region and a number of suggestions were made including improving marketing of the region (information and packages), improving the quality of services, offering more activities and products for tourists to enjoy, opening higher category accommodations, improving the access road from Gjirokastra to Korça and building a strong clear image of the region. Value Chain Analysis of the Tourism Sector in the Korça Region Value chain analysis is a technique used to examine the supply chain that makes up a finished product. A value chain is normally defined as ‘all the firms that buy and sell to each other in order to supply a particular set of products and services to final consumers’. However, the value chain that makes up the tourism experience does not fit well into this definition as the most important links in the value chain do not have to purchase goods or services from each other to operate their business, and therefore act independently, albeit in an interdependent manner, in the overall tourism experience. Intermediaries purchase services from several links in the value chain to create packages that they sell onto the final consumer. In this scenario, the tour operator buys transport, accommodation and additional services from the various service providers which he packages and sells directly or through another intermediary, the travel agent, to the final consumer, the tourist. However, tourists also buy services directly from the providers thus bypassing the intermediaries. They may also use their own transport, bypassing another link in the chain. Furthermore, service providers may serve other markets unrelated to tourism; for instance, a transport operator like a coach owner will carry local people (which may generate a greater revenue stream) as well as tourists; and hotels supply services to business (conferences, meetings, trade fairs…) and well as to the leisure market (weddings, graduations and other events) which have little to do with the movement of people from one economy to another for business or leisure, the basic definition of tourism. Therefore the links in the chain are not as
  • 26. solid as those in other sectors and this has implications for SMEs and local communities wanting to become successful service providers in the sector. For the ‘tourism experience’ to be successful, there has to be involvement of both the private sector as entrepreneurs and operators and the public sector as providers of public services and infrastructure, regulators to ensure safety and business compliance and facilitators to provide a solid framework within which the private sector can thrive sometimes referred to as creating the ‘enabling environment’. Public private sector partnerships (PPP) are vital to the success of the sector. Therefore, the value chain analysis must take the distinctiveness of the tourism sector into account. An important difference in applying value chain methodology to tourism compared with other sectors such are agriculture is that the ‘tourist’ rather than a ‘good or product’ being produced travels along the chain and this has implication on quality. When a good is purchased by the final consumer at the end of the chain, he/she does not see the different phases in its design, production and distribution, whereas the tourist, which is the final consumer, is present at most stages of the chain – consuming the product as it being produced – and therefore witnesses and evaluates the efficiency and quality throughout the process. Therefore achieving total quality in the tourism sector poses great challenges and more intensive application than in other sectors, especially those producing goods rather than services. The value chain analysis process adopted for the marketing and product development strategy for the Korça Region identifies the actors and activities that are involved at each stage of the chain, the constraints and obstacles that are impeding the smooth operation and development of tourism and the interventions that can be recommended to improve, expand and/or develop the situation or product. Based on the analysis, a decision is made on whether this value chain will be focused on in the short-term strategy. In this chapter an example of the analysis is presented for one of the value chains: Domestic Tourism. The detailed analyses of the other value chains are presented in Appendix 3. This chapter summarises the conclusions of these analyses. Value Chains focused on Markets The value chain technique allows us to examine tourism in a destination from the perspective of the market as well as from the perspective of the product. This section focuses on the markets that visit the Korça Region. The Domestic Market The domestic market analysed here includes Albanians and Albanian communities living in Kosovo, Fyrom Macedonia and Greece; their common culture would suggest that they will have similar needs and desires and because they can be generally reached through the same media channels.
  • 27. The first stage of the analysis of this value chain is to understand the different stages that comprise the chain, the businesses that are involved at each stage of the chain and the activities that these are involved in. This is laid out graphically as illustrated in Figure 1. Figure 6.1 Markets / Marketing Channels International/ national transport Provision of accommodation, food Activities / Products • Different socio- economic levels • Reach them (newspapers, TV, radio) • Mostly independent • Possible tour operators VALUE CHAIN LINK OVERVIEW MAP: DOMESTIC TOURISM • By road • Private car • Independent or through tour operators International/ national transport Transport in the area Mainly from Tirana/Durres and Elbasan but also from Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece Albanians from Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece are considered domestic market here • Roads network • Bus, through tour operators or local transport • Taxi service • Independent or through operators • Some stay with family • Looking for a range of accommodation • Visiting villages • Lake and beaches • Mountains (snow) • Participating in events, festivals • Looking for traditional music and cuisine • Visit museums, churches, mosques, archaeology • By road • Private car • Independent or through tour operators The second stage is to assess the obstacles and constraints that are impeding the success of this value chain. These are also laid out graphically as depicted in Figures 2 and 3 Figure 6.2 • National road under construction from Progradec to Korça City • Lack or insufficient signage • Rented car only in Tirana • Roads in the region need improvement • Narrow roads for buses Transport in the area Markets / Marketing Channels • Marketing only of events (newspapers, posters, local TV); relies on word-of-mouth rather than promotion strategy • Only local TV used – not national TV, especially to reach Albanians in Macedonia, Kosovo and Greece but also in Tirana etc… • Local characteristics such as clement climate in summer and snow in winter not sufficiently promoted if at all (people just seem to know about it) • Limited collaterals and often out of date – collaterals usually developed with assistance of NGOs and are ‘one time’ initiatives • Lack of knowledge of marketing at local level • Lack of research on market needs CONSTRAINTS AND OBSTACLES Figure 6.3
  • 28. Provision of accommodation, food… • No high category hotels (4 and 5 star) for tourists looking for this service • Lack of training for hospitality services in hotels and restaurants resulting in non-professional provision of service • Small number of restaurants in the centre of the city (Korça and Erseka in particular) or at tourist attractions – lack of signage to indicate the location of restaurants • Lack of variety in many of the restaurants (often the local speciality is the only thing available) • Often lack of menus on the table to consult • Without tour operators and guides it is difficult to find tourist attractions in the Korça Region, even for the domestic market • Lack of opportunities to enjoy activities such as horse riding, cycling, hiking (lack of trails, maps, and equipment to hire) • Small number of organised activities • Few informational and directional signage to attractions • Attractions often closed and require knowledge of the person to approach which the tourist does not have • Few maps to locate attractions • Some attractions such as the lakes and the villages need environmental treatment and cleanup • Waste management systems needed at hotels, guesthouses and restaurants Activities / Products CONSTRAINTS AND OBSTACLES Interventions to solve the problems caused by the constraints and obstacles are recommended as shown in Figures 4 and 5. They provide the basis for the elaboration of action plans. Figure 6.4 AREAS OF POTENTIAL INTERVENTION Markets / Marketing Channels • Marketing strategy should focus strongly on domestic tourism, especially Albanians in neighbouring countries by promoting events and festivals not only on local TV but also on national TV and in national newspapers • Also promote the opportunities to enjoy tourism in the region • Seek endorsement of famous personalities originating from Korça i.e. Korça (Prifti) Brothers who have a growing reputation in Albania and with Albanians abroad • Invite journalists and tour operators to see the tourism attractions of the Korça Region (fam trips) • Market research to uncover their needs in order to adapt the product in Korça • Capacity building in tourism, especially in marketing • Attend relevant trade fairs in Albania and in areas with Albanian populations reside to promote the Korça Region • Lobby local and central government to improve roads to attractions • Review and develop appropriate signage • Encourage local business to establish a rented-a-car service in Korça City or Pogradec • Develop and distribute a Korça Region map with attractions and tourism services clearly indicated (encourage private sector business) Transport in the area Figure 6.5
  • 29. AREAS OF POTENTIAL INTERVENTION Provision of accommodation, food… • Encourage upgrading and establishment of higher category accommodation • Organise training with owners and managers of accommodation and restaurants, particularly on the required level of service needed for the increasingly sophisticated domestic tourist • Encourage internet booking facilities for accommodation • Organise training in Albanian of service staff using trainers from respected institutions • Develop ‘Train the Trainers’ courses to ensure continuous training – select local trainers • Planning control by local government units to ensure that bars and restaurants suitable for tourists are available at areas where tourists congregate • Encourage ‘no smoking areas’ in bars and restaurants and enforce ‘no smoking’ regulation • List accommodation available in tourist guides and at specially established information centres at villages • Establish regional information centre in Korça City or/and Pogradec and information points at tourist area – (regional DMO) • Develop map of attractions and widely distribute it through the TICs, hotels and travel agencies • Encourage local entrepreneurs to develop horse riding and cycling activities, rent equipment, and develop trails with signage • Organise and promote a range of activities that can be enjoyed in the village in Korça Region • Create or improve directional signage to attractions • Ensure that opening time of attractions are respected and that tourists are able to visit these without looking for a person to open them • Develop and/or implement where this exists Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPS) • Build awareness of the need for waste management systems at hotels, guesthouses and restaurants Activities / Products Based on the analysis of the value chain, it is possible to draw conclusions about the viability of the market or the product. The selection of the markets to focus on in the short terms must satisfy certain criteria: 1. The destination and its products have a particular attraction for the market. 2. The market is large enough for the marketing investment to be worthwhile so an appropriate return-on-investment (ROI) can be achieved. 3. There are clear and affordable channels to target the market and communicate with it. 4. Interventions designed to improve the prospects of attracting the market are achievable and reasonable. In conclusion, the domestic market is currently the main market to the region which has the choice of other areas to visit if they are not satisfied with the attractions and services available in the Korça Region. It is a large market that comes to the area for day excursion, weekends as well as longer holidays. It can be generally reached through the national media and trade fairs, for specific groups such as schools and trade unions as well as for special interest groups through their associations. Tour operators can be encouraged to target this market if appropriate products are developed. This market enjoys many of the region’s products, including experiencing nature and events. However, promotion to this market needs to be improved and should be stronger and more sophisticated. Foreign Coach Tour Market This value chain is important to the Korça region as it brings foreign tourists to the region, who if satisfied will promote the region through word of mouth to their friends and families. Tours
  • 30. tend to be lucrative for the area with the organisers including several products and activities and using facilities and services of local businesses and operators. There is adequate accommodation capacity in Korça City and Pogradec – and growing capacity in some villages (i.e. Dardha). Increasing the number of bus tours through the region will encourage service standards to improve. To expand this market, a range of itineraries and activities needs to be developed and this will encourage tour operators to design their tours to spend longer in the region. However, the number of foreign tourists on tours through the area is currently relatively small but the potential is high. When this market grows, there is a need for additional accommodation capacity in some parts of the region (i.e. Erseka). Cross Border Tour Market This market has great potential and brings foreign tourists to the region, thus promoting through word-of-mouth. The Korça Region can benefit from tourists visiting neighbouring countries by inviting them to get to know Albania during their stay. This can involve day excursions but also longer stays in the area. Developing a range of itineraries and activities will encourage tour operators in neighbouring countries to include tours to the Korça Region and spend time in the area. This would add value to their product offer. Increasing the number of bus tours from neighbouring countries to the areas will encourage service standards to improve so that they are on par with the standards offered in the other countries. In addition, itineraries can be specifically designed to include the Korça Region of Albania and the bordering regions in Greece and in Fyrom Macedonia as one package to be sold through foreign tour operators in the wider market. However, this market is not yet properly developed although it presents undeniable potential. In the first instance, linkages between tour operators in the three countries should be developed. Independent Traveller Market This has the potential of becoming a strong market for the Korça Region as it is strategically placed near generating markets and on the route to tourist areas in other countries. The market is relatively large but currently no numbers are known. There are several sub-markets from Albanians living in neighbouring countries and the Diaspora to foreign visitors from neighbouring countries on short excursions and those from further afield. It is comprised of different types of tourists, from those looking for high end accommodation to others preferring homestays and guesthouses. In fact this is the main market for this type of accommodation. Independent travellers enjoy many of the region’s products because they usually have time to explore and experience the destination. However, this market is difficult to target specifically so the marketing channels must be chosen carefully. It is very important to ensure that there is information readily available such as guide books, signposting, maps, TICs etc… A good internet presence where attractions and facilities are described in detail as well as logistical information such as access routes, transport facilities and timetables, prices to expect and so on…
  • 31. Value Chains focused on Products This section focuses on the products that tourists enjoy in the Korça Region. Village Tourism Villages are an integral component of the Korça Region tourism product and Voskopoja in particular is featured on most tour operator itineraries through the area. Village tourism is already becoming well established and the domestic market in particular is increasingly aware of Korça’s villages. The Korça villages were described by one tour operator in Tirana as the best villages for tourism in Albania. It provides direct benefit to local communities thus improving standards, quality of life and alleviating poverty as well as enhancing SMEs in the region. The development of tourism in villages encourages improvement of infrastructure. Interesting villages can be found throughout the state, each with the possibility of offering a different experience to the visitor. If village itineraries and activities are organised, tourists would be encouraged to stay longer in the area However, the Village Tourism product offer needs to be upgraded to fit in with market needs and expectations and to be strongly promoted. City or Urban Tourism In the Korça Region, this type of tourism exists in Korça City, Pogradec and to a lesser extent Erseka. Cities are the arrival points in the region where tourists will start to explore other areas. They represent the region and are the centre within their area where services can be found, used, purchased or booked. They are also where several attractions can be found within a small and well defined area (i.e. museums, theatres, exhibitions etc…). They cater to several markets – leisure, business and VFR - domestic and international. If well developed for tourism with a range of activities, they will encourage tourists to stay longer. However, cities in the Korça Region must be made ‘tourist friendly’ and upgraded accordingly; for instance, there is no official tourist information office in any of the cities; there is a lack of signage to attractions and amenities that are important to tourists like museums and restaurants; attractions are often closed, even during publicised opening times; menus are generally only in Albanian; there are few higher category hotels for tourists who require this type of facility and hospitality services are not professional… Cultural and Historical Tourism The Korça Region is famed for its historical and cultural assets. History and culture are found in cities but also in villages, and tourists travel around the region to experience 3000-year old Illyrian archaeological sites, medieval and Byzantine churches and buildings, Second World War monuments and memorials as well as vestiges from the communist era. Culture and history are of interest to the general sightseeing tourist market, to the specialist market (domestic and international) and of particular interest of the Diaspora to see where much
  • 32. of Albania’s culture and history generated (Albanian language, first school etc…). Therefore developing culture and history for tourism will benefit a range of markets. Specialist markets are easier to target than the general tourist market as they have their own marketing channels. The region is rich in traditional culture with each area offering original music and dance. Korça is famous for it ‘serenades’ which are internationally known. Many of the towns and villages in the region claim famous poets, writers and painters, some of which are known around the world. The culture of the Korça Region is also enriched by ethnic minorities such as the Fyrom Macedonian community in the Prespa Area which offer tourism alternatives and unique traditions to present to visitors. Organising historical and cultural assets into tourism products will encourage tourists to stay longer in the area Festivals and Events Tourism Festivals and events bring visitors, especially domestic tourists, to the region including during the off-season. They increase the income of tourism stakeholders including those that provide services to tourists but are not direct stakeholders such as taxi drivers. They promote the Korça Region as a region of activity, entertainment, fun and dynamism – somewhere there ‘is always something going on’ – a positive brand image for the region therefore increase visibility of the region in tourist markets. Festivals and events create a good environment for local residents who also enjoy the entertainment. They involve public private partnerships in organisation and marketing creating a bond, unity and partnership among participating stakeholders working in close collaboration. Festivals and events have been very successful for the Korça Region in the last couple of years which is now gaining a reputation in Albania and in the neighbouring countries. Beach and Lake Tourism The Ohrid and Prespa Lakes are outstanding tourism assets with international recognition. They attract the domestic market for day excursions, weekends as well as longer stays during the summer and the international market for relatively short periods of time to see the lakes. Distinctive cuisine is offered which is reputed and sought out. There are opportunities to visit attractions in the area (the Macedonian villages at Prespa as well as villages near Pogradec such as Lin). Specialist tour operators and niche market tourists can be interested to visit, for instance to see endemic species of fauna and flora. However, there is a need to upgrade the product to compete with similar products in Macedonia and Greece and highlight the characteristics that are special about Albania. Environmental clean up is vital to the success of this product. Nature Tourism The Korça Region has outstanding opportunities for nature tourism. It can attract the general tourists who are interested to see high quality landscapes as well as fauna and flora but also
  • 33. specialist markets such as ecotourists; adventure tourists who want to enjoy activities in nature such as trekking, climbing and other outdoor sports; and researchers and scientists. Specialist markets are easier to target than general tourists as they have their own marketing channels. Nature tourism can involve day excursions but also longer stays in the area. It spreads tourism in the region to other areas apart from the cities, enhancing opportunities for villages to offer new products. It can offer opportunities at different times of the year (i.e. skiing in winter). Currently, there are ongoing initiatives to develop nature tourism and developing a range of products and activities will encourage specialist tour operators to feature the region. However, some of the initiatives that are proposed replicate ventures that have been implemented in other countries and may not be suitable for the region. The implications of launching theses initiatives must be carefully assessed. This market is not yet properly developed although it presents undeniable potential. It should be encouraged but will take time to become established. Handicrafts and Local Specialities Handicrafts and local specialities are important additions to the tourism assets of a destination. They represent the variations in culture and traditions that can be found within the region. The value chain is different to tourism value chains as it concerns the creation, production and distribution of physical goods rather than services. The stages of the value chain involve the sourcing of raw materials; their treatment and processing; their design and production; their distribution; and their marketing and sales. Linking handicrafts and local specialities with tourism will allow the traditions to live on and develop, and skills can be passed onto the younger generation. The traditions of past generations and the cultural heritage of the society are preserved for future generations. Handmade and cottage industry products tend to be of high quality and cut across other value chains (i.e. agriculture, textile etc…). The sector employs women, creates income through new businesses and promotes the region nationally, but also if properly marketed internationally However, in the Korça Region the sector is disorganised and provides little value added to tourism at the moment.
  • 34. Value Chains which have the Greatest Potential for Short Term Development The analysis shows that there is much to improve and develop if the Korça Region is to become a leading tourism destination in Albania and in the Southern Mediterranean area. The strategy proposed in this document focuses on a three-year timeline. Therefore, the focus of the strategy will be on the markets that are most likely to be developed in the short term. The Domestic Market is already by far the largest market to the Korça Region and recent activities such as the concerted push on establishing festivals and events has greatly motivated this market in the last few years. Furthermore, the population in the Korça Region are increasingly becoming aware of the economic importance of developing tourism. Private sector investment is growing and there is greater involvement of public institutions at regional, municipal and commune levels. These advances have been a consequence of the efforts made in the last few years by GTZ in training, information dissemination and marketing and by SNV in the launching TAPs in four areas of the region and succeeding in getting local stakeholders involved and committed to tourism development. This market has the greatest short term potential and it is already being catered for and marketed to. The strategy would focus the marketing efforts and provide a systematic methodology. The Foreign Coach Tour Market is already visiting the Korça Region albeit in relatively small numbers at the moment. Tour operators surveyed for this study are keen to include the Korça Region but are put off because of lack of information, no organised packages and the perception that access is difficult because of bad roads and poor amenities and services at the destination. This market is reached through tour operators, convincing them to feature the destination in their packages and by building awareness about the Korça Region in the foreign market by generating media interest. These three markets are therefore selected as priority market for the first three years of the strategy General Recommendations for all Value Chains It is clear from the value chain analysis that there are areas of general improvement which must be achieved if the Korça Region is to become a major tourism destination in Albania and in Southern Europe. The following section provides essential recommendations to advance the tourism sector in the region. Positioning and Branding the Korça Region Positioning  and  branding  are  closely  linked  but  different  concepts.  The  brand  is  the  mental  image that forms when a person is confronted with a product, or in this case, a destination.  Positioning is how that product (the destination) compares with the competition and involves  the attributes of the product which the consumer evaluates during the actual decision making  process during a purchase.   The objective of positioning is to create a distinctive place in the minds of potential customers  which will trigger an immediate positive association with the destination, an image which the  consumer can refer to when confronted with the destination. There are two types of image: 
  • 35. organic  image  and  induced  image.    Organic  image  refers  to  personal  experiences,  word‐of‐ mouth, education and the media; information beyond the reach of marketers. Induced image  refers to information designed by promotional agencies in the form of advertising and publicity.  The  image  creates  an  emotional  reaction,  which  if  portrayed  positively,  enhances  the  destination's  chances  of  being  chosen  over  other  destinations.  Therefore,  to  successfully  market  a  destination,  its  image  must  be  controlled  and  managed.  This  is  achieved  through  market positioning.   Ries and Trout explained in their seminal work: ‘Positioning: the Battle for your Mind’6  that  consumers are bombarded by advertising messages or ‘spams’; today, it is estimated that the  average  person  is  exposed  to  3,000  messages  a  day.  They  mostly  cope  with  the  clutter  by  shutting  out  anything  which  is  inconsistent  with  what  they  know  or  have  experienced.  Therefore the primary rule of positioning is to focus the message on what the consumer already  believes in, his/her perception rather than on the reality of the product. In terms of positioning  a destination it is important to understand that it is not what stakeholders say their destination  represents but how the potential visitor perceives the destination. And this is the first rule of  destination positioning and branding: ‘it is not what you say it is, it is what they say it is’.  Being the first to claim a unique position in the mind of the consumer is very powerful and  provides a great advantage. The second entrant will find it difficult to claim the position even  when  the  attributes  are  better  or  stronger.  To  select  the  Korça  Region’s  best  position,  its  attributes  have  to  be  isolated,  the  market  perception  of  each  attribute  assessed  and  then  evaluated against competing destinations. One important rule of positioning is ‘differentiation’  or  ‘finding  a  niche’,  identifying  what  is  unique  vis‐à‐vis  the  competition  or  areas  that  the  competition has not exploited in its own positioning. Of course these need to be positive to  underline aspects that are strongly attractive about the destination.   It is therefore important to identify the attributes that characterise the Korça Region to extract  the core attribute and the supporting assets.     Culture: The Korça Region is already known as a place of culture and history (see the  tour operator survey; and also confirmed through interviews). The region is seeped in  cultural  heritage  represented  through  its  literature,  art,  museums,  architecture  and  famous sons and daughters. This is the areas core attribute which is supported by the  other fine characteristics of the region.     Nature: The region’s wonderful nature, lakes and mountains has inspired local poets,  writers and painters like Vangjush Mio.     Cities and Villages: Cities and villages are a testament to the history and culture of the  region; the first Albanian school, the first girls’ school are located in Korça City as is the  Medieval Art museum with 7,000 pieces of art; the region has been synonymous with  6 Ries, A. and Trout,J. (1981) Positioning, The battle for your mind, Warner Books - McGraw-Hill Inc., New York, 1981
  • 36. sophisticated culture throughout history; i.e. the developed settlements of Voskopoja,  Vithkuq and Korça City which has been labelled the ‘Little Paris’…; and philanthropists  have  added  to  the  cultural  heritage  of  region,  for  instance  the  Bratko  Museum  of  oriental art     History: The region has a very long history going back to the Neolithic times 6,000BC,  through the advanced Illyrian period represented today by the tumulus at Kamenica, the  medieval times, the Ottoman period to modern times.     Humanity: Humanity is represented through the arts and crafts of the Korça people, the  music  (the  serenades,  the  mandolins…)  the  folklore  of  its  different  communities  including its Macedonian minority, the distinctive cuisine and the beautiful handicrafts.  The position is conveyed through the brand. A brand is not a slogan or a logo; these are tools that are employed to communicate the values and identity of the brand or in this case the destination. Branding a destination is transmitting an experience, a feeling; not places to look at or things to do. Tourists want experiences not places.  The brand must be ‘experiential’. The focus must be on the experience, the feeling that the  destination engenders. A brand is about feeling – everything revolves around the brand, even  advertising.  The  feeling  that  will  be  experienced  at  the  destination  is  promoted.  It  is  about  communicating the values that form the brand.   The Korça Region brand needs to reflect the Korça Region’s personality and its identity. Therefore it is essential to develop the identity. This is achieved by defining the CORE or PRIMARY asset of the Korça Region and separating this from the supporting assets that can be also enjoyed in Korça. The supporting assets will supplement the core asset. According to the positioning analysis discussed above the Korça Region’s most prominent asset is the rich culture synonymous with where much of the sophistication associated with Albania originated. To this core asset a number of strong supporting assets linked to the Korça Region can be associated. These include nature, cities and villages, history and humanity. During the workgroup meeting, the stakeholders brainstormed about the positioning the Korça Region as a tourism destination. The mechanics of developing a destination position was discussed beforehand. It is important in defining a position to pick the central theme and present this as a single idea. Trying to include all the attributes of the destination together and presenting too many ideas is confusing and does not work. The best brands are simple ideas like the painter’s Miro’s Sun to identify Spain or the slogans ‘Malaysia Simply Asia’ and ‘Incredible India’. These destinations are multi-faceted but the position translated through the brand offers one idea that encompasses it all. After much deliberation, several ideas were proposed. The suggestion adopted as an identifying  mark for the Korça Region based on the core and supporting asset was:  ‘The Birthplace of Albanian Culture’ 
  • 37. This mixes in the idea of culture and intellectual capital and its uniqueness is conveyed the idea of birthplace (there can only be one birthplace, like the first school, the first girls’ school etc…). This idea of course needs to be presented to all the region’s stakeholders and agreed by them in a public consultation, and then tested on tourists to evaluate whether it works. Generally it is best to commission a professional PR/Advertising agency and provide them with a detailed brief on what is required. However this can be an expensive option and would need substantial funding. Village Tourism: Areas to Focus on in the Next Three Years Within the next three years the following actions will be undertaken: 1. Forming the Korça Region Tourist Villages Association, differentiating the product offer and developing itineraries between the villages (private vehicles, tour buses, cycling, trekking and horse riding); creating a website for the association. 2. Improving/developing signage to and within villages and to attractions (this can be funded through the ST-EP Programme) 3. Setting up information points and training 4. Lobby local, regional and central government about infrastructure and access improvement 5. Advice and training for local entrepreneurs to improve services and to develop new services
  • 38. City or Urban Tourism The three cities in the Korça Region are where the majority of tourist will be staying during their stay and where they will spend a lot of their time. Product improvement, expansion and development for this product include the following recommendations: • Establish and open Tourist Information Centres in the most prominent area of the city, ensure that it is permanently manned and that it is well stocked with collateral material. • Develop accurate profiles of market segments that will be attracted to visiting the cities of the Korça Region through research. • Carry out market research to uncover the needs of different market segments in order to adapt the product. • Develop marketing collaterals to promote the cities in the form of guides and leaflets; use advertising by local stakeholders to fund this; update regularly. • Develop/upgrade web portals to promote the cities in several languages, update regularly with information on events and developments in the city. • Encourage cities to collaborate with each other to coordinate their tourism activities, events and festivals. • Organise capacity building in tourism, especially in marketing city tourism. • Encourage upgrading and establishment of different categories of quality accommodation from high end to budget. • Provide clear signage so that tourists can find attractions, accommodation and facilities and know what services are available. • Organise training with owners and managers of accommodation and restaurants, particularly on the required level of service needed for tourists. • Organise training in Albanian of service staff using trainers from respected institutions encouraging owners to hire English, Greek and Macedonian speaking front-line staff. • Develop ‘Train the Trainers’ courses to ensure continuous training. • Lobby for planning control by local government units to ensure that bars and restaurants suitable for tourists are available at areas where tourists congregate. • Encourage ‘no smoking areas’ in bars and restaurants and enforce ‘no smoking’ regulation.
  • 39. • List accommodation available in tourist guides, with services available and an indication of prices. • Encourage restaurants to translate menus into at least English but also other languages if possible and exhibit these prominently at the outside entrance so that tourist can see what is available and the price before entering. • Make attractions ’tourist friendly’ by ensuring that opening times are respected, that someone is available to provide information if needed and that there are directional signs within the site in several languages to orient tourists visiting. • Develop a map of city attractions, hotels, restaurants and facilities and widely distribute it through the TICs, hotels and travel agencies. • Encourage local entrepreneurs to provide tourist services and activities such as guided tours, entertainment, folklore, shows, car rental, private museums etc… • Open retail outlets for handicrafts, local specialities and souvenirs that tourists can take home. • Ensure that opening times of attractions are respected and that tourists are able to visit these without looking for a person to open them. • Develop and/or implement where this exists Environmental Action Plans for the cities. • Build awareness of the need for waste management systems at hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. City or Urban Tourism: Areas to Focus on in the Next Three Years There are several plans underway which will improve the cities of the Korça Region in the next few years for which resources have already been found or are already being implemented. Within the next three years the following actions will be undertaken: 1. Setting up Tourist Information Centres in cities (there are already plans for this in Korça City and Pogradec). 2. Developing marketing collateral for cities, including city maps. 3. Making cities more ‘tourist friendly’ by improving signage, information at attractions and ensuring, opening times are respected, making guides available for hire (training of guides) and developing activities and entertainment for tourists. 4. Improving services in restaurants and hotels (i.e. enforcing the ‘no smoking’ rules, menus in English, train of service staff through train the trainer programmes proposed in the general recommendations).
  • 40. 5. Opening retail outlets for local and regional handicrafts, local specialities (agro- tourism products) and souvenirs at city centres and at tourist attraction that tourists can take home. Cultural and Historical Tourism The Korça Region is perceived as a region of culture and history with excellent nature and a pleasant climate. Therefore culture and history are major assets for the area and are what many visitors are primarily interested in when they visit the region. Product improvement, expansion and development for cultural and historical tourism include the following recommendations: • Promote tourist guide books in Albanian and English about the history and culture of the Korça Region and make these available to tourists at tourist sites, book stores in the cities and at travel agencies. • Ensure guide books and informational signage are at least translated into English but also into other relevant languages. • Promote cultural activities such as walking itineraries, folklore shows, dance, music, cultural events and festivals etc… at the soon to be established TICs, through leaflets and on the Internet • Organise cultural and historical events and festivals at regular intervals, especially focusing on famous cultural and historical personalities of the region. • Develop and promote the services of tour guides. • Organise capacity building for tour guides and possible certification. • Target specialist markets through associations – culture, history, crafts and handicraft, folklore, dance, music, agro-tourism associations, etc… - feature on travel and specialist websites. • Once products are developed invite tour operators and journalists to see the cultural tourism opportunities available in the region. • Link up local and national tour operators with cultural operators in tourist generating countries. • Attend specialist trade fairs focusing on cultural and historical tourism. • Develop clear signage to attractions in cities and in villages. • Ensure that opening times of attractions are respected and that tourists are able to visit these without looking for a person to open them.
  • 41. • Develop a cultural tourism map for the region but also for each city and village where there are historical and cultural monuments. Cultural and Historical Tourism: Areas to Focus on in the Next Three Years Improving these very important products will enhance the tourism appeal of the region. There are several restoration projects of historical building and areas underway or at the planning stage. Within the next three years the following actions will be undertaken: 1. Translate informational signs into English and other languages (i.e. Greek and/or Macedonian) – develop good directional signage (ST-EP Programme). 2. Develop a cultural tourism map for the region but also for each city and village where there are historical and cultural monuments. 3. Organise cultural and historical events and festivals at regular intervals, especially focusing on famous cultural and historical personalities of the region. 4. Link up local and national tour operators with cultural operators in tourist generating countries. 5. Ensure that opening times of attractions are respected and that tourists are able to visit these without having to look for a person to open them. Beach and Lake Tourism The lakes of the Korça Region are reputed in Albania and abroad for their beauty and their unique ecosystems. There is however some environmental damage that needs to be reversed. Projects are currently underway to clean up the lakes and environmental plans are being drawn up. Product improvement, expansion and development for beach and lake tourism include the following recommendations: • Promote activities that can be enjoyed at the lakes and in the surrounding area through brochures, at the soon to be established TICs, in brochures and on the Internet. • Encourage service providers to promote the activities that are available and the products that they offer (i.e. guiding; hiring equipment such as boats, fishing equipment etc…); as well as opportunities to explore the surrounding area. • Encourage specialist markets to come to see endemic species (bird watching) as well as historical and cultural assets of the area (i.e. Lin mosaic, Macedonian community art and folklore in Prespa) as well as fishing through associations… - feature on travel and specialist websites; eventually once products are up and running and established promote lake tourism activities in specialist magazines.
  • 42. • Promote events such as sporting competitions (sailing, water skiing, swimming, fishing tournaments etc…) to attract visitors to the lake areas. • Once products are developed and the lakes have recovered from environmental damage invite tour operators and journalists to see the Lake tourism opportunities available in the region. • Attend specialist trade fairs focusing on leisure, adventure, eco and sports tourism. • Encourage hotels, guesthouses and restaurants to advertise their services so that tourists can see what is on offer, especially the distinctive cuisine of the area. • Encourage accommodation at the lakes to promote opportunities to enjoy activities in the surrounding area. • Encourage guiding services (i.e. fishing guides as well as tour guides to visit the attractions of the area and the rental of equipment (i.e. bicycles, boat, fishing tackle etc…). • Enforce no smoking areas in restaurants and hotels. • Organise capacity building of tour guides and fishing guides. • Encourage local entrepreneurs and operators to organise excursions (i.e. to St Mary’s church on Mali Grad Island or to hike in the Prespa National Park), tourism services and activities. • Ensure that the positive characteristics which represent Albania are developed and showcased to differentiate the lake areas to those in Macedonia and in Greece so that the product are complementary rather than competing. • Encourage entrepreneurs to rent out equipment such as bicycles, fishing tackle, etc… • Implement Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPS) including awareness campaign with local residents about the need for keeping the environment clean for conservation and protection as well as for tourism and the economic benefits provided. • Enforce ban on evacuating untreated waste waters into the lakes and organise clean up campaign for the beaches, maybe involving local students and ensure that the beaches are maintained garbage free at all times • Increase the number of garbage receptacles at the beaches, empty these regularly so that the receptacles do not overflow and put up signage to encourage visitors to use these. Possible introduction of a penalty system in the form of fine for people who disregard the instructions and litter or pollute the lakes.
  • 43. • Organise and showcase handicrafts and local specialities of the area. Beach and Lake Tourism: Areas to Focus on in the Next Three Years Tourism to Ohrid Lake is already fairly well established and once the upgrading of the national road between Pogradec and Korça City is finished and the road and border post between Macedonia and the Albanian Prespa area is upgraded, this should increase the number of tourists to the area. The reversal of environmental damage to Ohrid Lake will take sometime but should be finished within the next three years. Over the next three years, the following actions are recommended: 1. Organise cleanup of the beach areas, possibly recruiting local students, and maintain these; put garbage receptacles at regular intervals and engage the municipality/communes to empty these regularly; organise awareness campaigns for local residents and students on environmental quality. 2. Train fishing guides and encourage local business to rent out equipment and organise excursions. 3. Encourage and provide advice to hotels and guesthouses on advertising their services so that tourists can see what is on offer, especially the distinctive cuisine of the area. Nature Tourism Despite great natural resources, nature tourism is not well developed in the Korça Region. In the next three years, the focus would be on preparing the area for nature tourism. Product improvement, expansion and development for nature tourism include the following recommendations: • Develop and promote activities that can be enjoyed in nature through brochures, at the soon to be established TICs, in brochures and on the Internet. • Encourage service providers to provide and promote the activities that are available and the products that they offer (i.e. guiding; hiring equipment such as bicycles, skis etc…; horse riding; fishing; hunting, rock climbing and mountaineering…). • Target specialist markets through associations – bird watching, hiking, cyclo-tourism; fishing; hunting, rock climbing, caving etc… - feature on travel and specialist websites; eventually once products are up and running and established, promote nature activities in specialist magazines. • Organise and promote events such as sporting competitions to attract visitors to nature areas. • Once products are developed invite tour operators and journalists to see the nature tourism opportunities available in the region.
  • 44. • Attend specialist trade fairs focusing on adventure, eco and sports tourism. • Encourage accommodation in villages to develop and promote opportunities to enjoy activities in the surrounding nature. • Encourage them to provide guiding services (in house or contact local tour guides) and rent equipment. • Present the feasibility of developing a (or several) high quality ecolodges to attract the wealthy domestic and foreign specialist market. • Lobby national park management and forest agencies to develop well-marked signed trails in forests and mountains. • Train nature guides. • Develop and/or implement where this exists Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPS) including awareness campaigns with local residents about the need for keeping the environment clean for conservation and protection as well as for tourism. Nature Tourism: Areas to Focus on in the Next Three Years In the next three years, the nature tourism facilities should be developed. The actions will include: • Lobby national park management and forest agencies to develop well-marked signed trails in forests and mountains. • Train nature guides. • Encourage local entrepreneurs and operators to organise nature tourism services and activities and to rent out equipment such as bicycles, fishing tackle, rock climbing and mountaineering gear, walking clothes and boots etc… • Prepare an investment promotion documentation for the development of a (or several) high quality ecolodges to attract the wealthy domestic and foreign specialist market Handicrafts and Local Specialities The excellent handicrafts and local specialities of the Korça Region are not being promoted or sold to the tourist market. There are opportunities to develop this sector. The next three year will focus on organising the sector. Product improvement, expansion and development for handicrafts and local specialities include the following recommendations:
  • 45. • Approach foundations, associations and organisations for technical and financial support; e.g. Agrinas Foundation can help with agro technology; Rehova Association – possible source of funds and info; Honey Bee Association. • Form the Korça Region handicrafts and Local Specialties Association with chapters in each area of the region. • Reinforce the current Korça region food brand and develop a related handicraft brand for Korça region. • Organise training; for instance training of farmer’s association (fruit culture); training for EU food standards (wine raki, jam, juice. etc…); training for professional packaging of products tying into SNV’s Agricultural Sector Programme. • Organise speciality fairs. • Attend tourism fairs, handicraft fairs, food fairs etc. nationally and internationally to offer Korça products. • Open speciality shops – lobby for them to be tax free until sales reach a certain level.