Tourism to spur regional development in South Eastern Europe


Tourism offers an effective and viable regional development tool through boosting economic growth and creating quality jobs. This was the central message coming out of the UNWTO Seminar on “Tourism as a Tool for Sustainable Regional Development” (Tirana, Albania, November 25).

“Albania has the potential to build a new tourism sector for the 21st century and set an inspiring model for other countries,” said the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Sali Berisha, opening the seminar alongside UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Taleb Rifai.

In many regions, tourism creates significant opportunities for diversifying the local economy, bringing economic benefits to areas with limited options for alternative economic development. As such, tourism is increasingly recognized as a decisive tool in territorial development and reducing inequalities between regions, particularly in today’s challenging times.

“In the face of a prolonged period of high unemployment, tourism can create jobs, particularly in remote regions, and is by far one of the best development opportunities for those regions that are emerging, as is the case of Eastern Europe,” said Mr. Rifai. “This region can benefit immensely from further regional cooperation,” he added.

The seminar highlighted the importance of working across the regional, national, and international levels in the design and implementation of effective tourism strategies for regional development. Serving as a platform for discussing economic regional development through tourism in South Eastern Europe, the seminar was organized by UNWTO in cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth, and Sports of Albania and supported by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).