Entrepreneurial Eco-Systems for Sustainable Community-Based Tourism Development in Albania: Case Studies of Community Tourism Development

Entrepreneurial Eco-Systems for Sustainable Community-Based Tourism Development in Albania: Case Studies of Community Tourism Development

Aida Ciro, Merita Toska
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4855-4.ch007
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The tourism sector in Albania has been upheld as a government development priority and a promising window for overall local economic development. Although these ambitions have started to shape the governance of the sector, the inherent challenges on a governance level have meant that most of the tourism development on a local level is being led by local initiatives and the private sector service providers. These initiatives are often fueled by entrepreneurial drive and are sustained by a network of local community actors, giving rise to applied models of sustainable tourism development, as shown by numerous agritourist enterprises emerging across Albania. Through a case study approach, this chapter will focus on the role entrepreneurial eco-systems rooted in local communities can play in the development of sustainable tourism models in Albania.
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Progressively increasing numbers, have shown tourism, has become one the world’s most profitable industries, constituting a lucrative sector in terms of its job creation potential, with 1 in 10 jobs related to tourism. In 2019, as reported by the World Travel and Tourism Council (2020), tourism contributed a record $8.9 trillion to the world economy. More specifically, that means that the travel and tourism sector has been growing at a rate of 3.5%, has generated 10.3% of all global economic activity and is responsible for one in ten jobs globally. This direct correlation between tourism development and local economic growth has meant that, many places, regardless of how the concept of a ‘place’ is geographically defined, be it cities, regions, local communities or otherwise (O’Connor, Stam, Sussan, & Audretsch, 2018) have explored and developed tourism ambitions.

Correspondingly with the global picture, the importance of tourism in Albania, a small Mediterranean country in South-East Europe has also grown markedly fast in recent years. Once the most isolated country in the region until the early '90s, today Albania marks the fastest growth in the tourism sector in the region of the Western Balkans, by 15.8% (Ciro, 2020) with over 5.3 million reported arrivals of foreign citizens and about 2,193 million USD in international tourism receipts (United Nations World Travel Organization, 2019) accounting for an average of 2.8% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nominally, tourism receipts amount to a total of 45 billion ALL generated through tourism related activities including: accommodation, food and drink services, travel and tour operators, car rentals and other leisure activities (Institute of Statistics, 2019). This has increased pressure on places and local communities to innovate and embrace new opportunities for competitive development and at the same time ensure longevity of resources. Despite the renowned ambition of central and local government, to make of tourism the driving force of economic development, the contribution of the sector lags behind aspiration.

From 1992 – to date, Albania’s vision and development strategy for the sector has been outlined in six strategies, of which two remained in a permanent draft form. With the exception of the current strategy in force, spanning from 2019 to 2023, none of the prior strategies were implemented in full. Although starting from 2013 the legislative and policy framework has been expanded and complemented with new laws, bylaws and fiscal incentives, the governance of the sector is beset by challenges. As a result, growth of the tourism sector has been led primarily by local initiatives and the private sector service providers in the form of entrepreneurial activity, often innovative, in various parts of the country. A plethora of economic activities have emerged as a result, echoing in numerous supportive activities and the creation of sustainable local microcosms. This has given rise to increased research interest into the topics of community tourism, entrepreneurship and innovation, as an alternative way to lead to growth of innovation-and-community-based tourism development with environmental considerations.

This chapter, aims to build on theoretical frameworks of entrepreneurial, innovative community tourism and its contribution to the economy and provide research findings in the form of case studies. Sourced from rural areas in northern and southern Albania, the case studies of ‘Mrizi i Zanave’ (north-west of Albania, Municipality of Lezhë), ‘Caravan horse-riding Albania’ (south of Albania, Municipality of Gjirokastër), and “Sotira Farm” (south-east of Albania, Municipality of Kolonjë) although different in approach and scale, present three clear cases of community tourism with strong entrepreneurial and innovation elements. Reliance on three single case studies may raise questions concerning limitations, yet as Kokkranikal and Morrison (2011) put it, such limitation is offset by the rich qualitative insight generated. This proves of particular value in the case of Albania, where tourism in all its aspects remains under-researched.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainable Tourism: Tourism activities that succeed in providing a balanced equilibrium between social-economic and environmental dimension.

Tourist: A visitor spending at least one night in an accommodating structure in the country visited.

Tourism Supply: The entirety of touristic attractions of all categories and goods and services from any form of organisation in hosting destinations.

Community-Based Tourism: Tourism activities involving the integration of local produce and local labor force into supply and value chain.

Destination: A place displaying enough characteristic to a determined number of visitors so that to be considered as attractive to a traveler.

Tourism Demand: The total number of persons travelling/visiting to a destination outside their work/residence, consuming touristic products and/or services.

Tourism Industry: Tourism industry will be approximated with accommodation and food services activities in the national statistics available in Albania.

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