Tourism and Handicraft Industry: Opportunities and Challenges of Operating in the Albanian Market

Tourism and Handicraft Industry: Opportunities and Challenges of Operating in the Albanian Market

Alba Demneri Kruja (Epoka University, Albania) and Eltona Berberi (Independent Researcher, Albania)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8088-1.ch007

Abstract

Tourism is one of the most crucial sectors contributing to country development. In Albania, the sector`s contribution to GDP has an increasing trend through the years. This study aimed to explore the role of tourism in supporting the development of handicraft sector and analyzing the constraints faced by artisans during their daily activities of crafts production process. Albania is known for the tradition of crafts with precious values, created for centuries by masters of folk, in every province according to the features and specifications of different areas. The most known handicrafts in Albania are works in wood, iron, copper, and precious materials like gold, silver, leather, wool, etc. These values are inherited generation to generation have aroused great interest to visitors and local and foreign researches. In cities like Kruja and Scutari, a diversity of crafts with high utilitarian and aesthetic level is distinguished. This is also the reason of selecting the surveyed sample of artisans from Kruja and Scutari.
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Introduction

Handicraft products are from the oldest heritages in the world. The sector of handicrafts is an important part of the culture, economy and development of every country. Handicrafts have a traditional value which holds the indigenous ethnicity of a particular region (De Silver & Kundu, 2012). It represents a society`s cultural enrichment in its regular activities and reflects the sensitivity in the society`s cultural reaction to material changes (Deepak, 2008). Modern consumer society is tired with industrial products, so their attention is turned more and more towards craft products.

Handicrafts manufacturing is a low technology fragmented and predominantly labor intensive one (Venkataramanaiah & Kumar, 2011). Handicraft sector is one of the promising sectors of the economy and employment all it needs is an attention from government to transfer such industry into a well - organized industry, where workers working on the crafts will be delighted if they will be brought under the provisions of employment laws and additional employees will be motivated towards this sector (Bhat & Yadav, 2017). With increased globalization, however, products are becoming more and more

commoditized, with artisan producers facing increased competition from producers all over the world, particularly in China and other Asian countries (Khan & Amir, 2013). Handicrafts, like antiques, appeal to the aesthetics of the observer and yet may be put to good use (Deepak, 2008). It is no longer possible to look at traditional artisan communities and their products in isolation from global market trends and competition (Khan & Amir, 2013).

Craft products sector is not a new sector in Albanian market but the information about this sector is limited. These products are developed since in Illyrian period and the sector is a valuable link to the Albanian economy and culture. Albanian ethnography is a strong evidence of an exquisite aesthetic of taste, even when it comes to items that serve the individual in daily and not only when they have a decorative role. Preservation of family tradition is characteristic of the country (Bushaj, 2015). Craft products are products that reveal much about the Albanian culture, the values ​​that are transmitted to the side of the works. Some of them may be small but are of value when purchased and placed anywhere in any environment. Mostly of handcrafts are made by women who have managed their lives dedicated to this work. With a commitment with their hands they make artwork that may not be considered so much.

Technological developments, mechanization in manufacturing, innovative financial services and allied areas have helped in improving the productivity and quality of products and services offered in almost every sector (Venkataramanaiah & Kumar, 2011). Kruja (2013) emphasizes as the main weaknesses of enterprises in Albania “are generally related to a higher or lower degree of accessibility to the main resources: finance, technology, knowledge”. Handicraft products in Albania struggle to keep up with the imported products. They take time and require a lot of work to be produced, since their production is based on the hand skills and creativity of the artisan. Their price is also higher compared to the machine-made goods. In many cases, artisans are out of touch with those end markets, which presents a challenge to those seeking to export their products (Khan & Amir, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Artisans: People who manually produce products. They work individually, or can be helped by family members, friends, apprentices, or may hire some workers.

Business performance: Encompasses areas of business outcomes such as financial performance, product market performance and shareholder return.

Craft Products: Products produced by the direct manual contribution of the artisan. The artisan can produce it completely by hand or with the help of hand tools or mechanical means.

Innovation: Providing new products and processes or technological advancements of already existing products and services.

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