United Nations World Tourism Organisation declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development – a tool for development, with the aim to assess the present contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On the 6th of October the NaturAL project and UNDP jointly celebrated World Tourism Day by inaugurating the Visitor Centre in Radhime, Vlorë. They also announced the future realization of other three Visitor Centres to be developed at Llogara, Divjaka-Karavasta and Dajti National Parks with the investment supported by the European Union, via the NaturAL project.
The UNWTO predicts that ecotourism, nature, heritage, cultural and “adventure” tourism will grow rapidly over the next two decades and global spending on ecotourism is expected to increase at a higher rate than the tourism industry on the whole. The worlds terrestrial PAs (protected areas) receive about 8 billion visits per year – of which 80% are in Europe and North America.
Albania’s Protected Areas cover 18% of country’s territory, which is an outstanding national value. This is a valuable achievement of Albania, and it is expected to contribute much to the development of the Country, especially in consideration to the high potentials of the Protected Areas as tourism destination.
Importance of Protected Areas is reflected in their main role to preserve natural habitats and sustain biodiversity, but also in offering recreation and enjoyment and so contribute to sustainable economic development while safeguarding the territory against natural hazards.
Green, sustainable, responsible tourism is steadily growing and is an important economic input that is increasingly realised within protected areas – through ecotourism activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, bird watching and so on.
In the process of integration into the European Union Albania is required to do adopt the legal framework focused on environmental protection. Part of this process includes joining of the Natura 2000 network, an EU mechanism for identifying and valorising national protected areas according to a set of criteria. With this in sight it is crucial to ensure the capacity of the protected areas management administrators to communicate and present the value of natural beauty, its biodiversity and ecosystems, of Albania, to its citizens and governing bodies, aiming to integrate it into national policy and law. At this end Protected Areas Visitor Centres and Info Tourist Points are crucial assets contributing further to the process of aligning Albania to the European environmental acquis.
Tourism has always been, and will be, the action of people traveling and visiting new places. The region of Vlora has the history and heritage which make it a destination to be discovered by foreign as well as national travellers. The region has been an important economic area since the Roman times. This outstanding heritage should be highlighted in planning visitor opportunities and developing sustainable tourism opportunities in Vlora, so contributing to the regional economy at the same time ensuring protection of the natural resources.
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