Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at inauguration of newly built five-star hotel in Golem, Durres:
I am very happy to be given the opportunity to address you at this ceremony and congratulate the courageous investors of this early swallow, a 5-star hotel up to all international standards built on the Golem coast, but also to encourage others to follow these investors’ lead as soon as possible. The example of this hotel speaks for itself, both in terms of the tourists’ interest – because as I was informed the hotel is fully booked throughout the season – and in terms of the added value it brings to the economy of the investors themselves, but also in the local and national economy, or the new jobs it creates with over 200 employees in a relatively small facility. Such investment show why we are driven towards adopting a very favourable legislation supporting investment in 4 and 5-star hotels, which bring added value, more employment and certainly transform the country’s image through the eyes of others who chose to visit Albania.
We are about to open a new tourism season which features several peculiarities as the still undiscovered and little known Albania is emerging as an under-the-radar destination, a reference point and an increasingly more attractive destination for foreign tourists, either in the aspect of the marketing campaign we have carried by drawing lessons from the past and making use of our neighbour’s good experiences and practices and providing opportunities to introduce many novelties; both in terms of security, public services for tourists, in terms of opportunities for more fun and entertainment in other reference points, including traditional festivals and visits to the main cultural heritage sites, as well as artistic or sports events.
This is of course the first test in this regard and we will certainly have a lot to understand and learn about next tourism season, but it also opens a new chapter in terms of holistic organization and interaction between government and entrepreneurship to guarantee a season as attractive, cleaner, safer and recreational as possible for everyone who choose Albania to spend their holidays this year.
On the other hand – as the previous speaker said and whom I would like to congratulate for this investment that I am pretty confident you take pride in since this is a courageous undertaking, because it might be quite easy to build the 100th hotel, but it is not easy at all to endeavour to build the first of a such high standard hotel of a coast like the one of Durres – we have introduced a completely new regime in terms of hotel taxes as a whole as we have significantly lowered the Value Added Tax rate to six percent only from a standard of 20 percent rate. It is actually the lowest tax rate in the region, either with regards to building other hotels exempting them from paying profit tax for ten years and applying a six percent VAT rate only. Many see it as a favour to the luxury industry, but indeed it is this luxury industry that brings more added value to the economy. It is the industry that brings more revenue to the national economy and brings more jobs and much better paid jobs. So it is not a favour to luxury and to those who can afford spending their holidays at a 4 or 5-star hotel, but it is a strong incentive to the national economy.
Together with the Minister of Tourism we are witnessing an ever growing interest from the investors, Albanian and foreign investors alike, to join this government initiative and provide a significant fresh impetus to the economy through investments in 4 and 5-star hotels and I am confident that many will follow the lead soon. I am also pretty confident that we will soon see internationally leading hotel chain brands on the top list of global tourism building their structures in Tirana, on Durres coast and elsewhere across the country.
On the other hand, in addition to the massive injection to the national economy, I believe these investments will help employment to increase significantly. To this end, we plan fresh measures to ensure that the entrepreneurship’s efforts in developing such high investment levels in training and employing quality human resources would not be in vain and provide opportunities for state support to ensure these available human resources won’t leave at the season’s end.
The measure is designed to relieve such companies of a part of the social insurance burden, while efforts are underway to promote the start of a series of chain agritourism investments.
I believe that along with the investments in the four and five-star hotels, the agritourism development projects will also make a significant impact on tourism industry, the rural economy of many households in the countryside, which currently see no clear future prospect of development.
A completely new productive and lucrative agritourism business can thrive in the country’s areas boasting stunning natural beauties, but still lacking direct access to the market and offering no potential for the local individuals and families to engage in intensive farming.
A lot of families in remote areas are unable to sell their products, or the cost of their sales is so high they have no choice but give it away just to survive. However, it is possible for these families to host tourists at their homes instead of seeking a road to have access to the markets. We have already seen several significant examples of agritourism businesses already operating in certain areas of the country and we are seeking to grow their number.
Therefore, the government package to support agritourism, which includes a six percent VAT rate, a five percent profit tax rate only and direct government funding through the Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, provide the basis for anyone expressing interest and seeking to develop projects that could earn the government support, but it also provides the basis for big entrepreneurs to turn attention to their homeland, its beauties in the rural areas and actively join this initiative.
This initiative won’t be limitless. I mean, all these incentives will be offered over the next three years and after that whoever eyeing an investment in agritourism, and I am confident there will be many, will be no longer offered such incentives and support. That’s why I appeal to all to hurry and take advantage of these measures.
To conclude, I believe that the classification and labelling of accommodation facilities, increase the number of beds available to tourists by the tourism establishments, registering the whole parts of the family accommodation, rooms, apartments, houses and construction of such structures will allow us not only to open, but also to make significant progress in a new stage of Albania’s economy and tourism industry.
There is no doubt that tourism is one of the main most powerful engines of our economy with incredible potential for more and I am confident that the outcome of this great preparatory and concrete work that is already step by step underway will be quite positive and it will allow us have a very optimistic view of the future of economy, employment, higher quality of human resources and which will certainly also lead to the increase of the real salary for everyone contributing to this industry, which will become increasingly sophisticated and which will need more additional elements as we are inherit a basic tourism whereas competition is growing extraordinarily.
A lot of people are currently visiting Albania still an unexplored destination, but our challenge is to make sure that these visitors return to our country.
I am convinced we are on the right track to make sure they come back again.
Thank you very much!