Enterprise Development and Export Markets Albania and Algeria
What: SW Associates was a sub-contractor to DAI for technical assistance in tourism on the USAID-sponsored Enterprise Development and Export Markets (EDEM) program in Albania. SW Associates activities for EDEM focused on:
- Marketing and Promotion
- Education and Training
- Government Assistance
- Improving Albania’s presence at travel trade fairs, particularly the World Travel Market.
- Expanding international media coverage, particularly among UK, German and Italian journalists.Increasing awareness of Albania among foreign tour operators.
- Improving the online and offline distribution of tourist information.
- This included the first ever tourist information stand at the Tirana International Airport, which distributed over 300 brochures a week from over 80 businesses, municipalities and organizations.
- Development of the first ever Thomas Cook Guidebook covering destinations in Albania: Tirana Pocket Guide. (Formerly known as a Cityspot Guide; Tim Clancy was the author)
- Establishing the first ever domestic travel fair: “Albania Travel Nights.”
- Positioning the Albanian tourism industry more solidly on the map of world destinations through increased linkages to World Tourism Day activities.
- Established the “Greetings from Albania” postcard, poster and postage stamp campaign — the first ever tourism destination awareness campaign for young people.
- Organized, with British Airways as a co-sponsor, the presentation of Albanian tourism for the first time at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society in London.
- We arranged for a workshop and presentations from the Albanian Ministry of Tourism National Tourism Organization, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Over 60 UK tour operators, journalists and others interested in Albania participated in the events.
- That summer, BA added a fourth weekly flight and most major UK daily newspapers have published travel articles about Albania.
- EDEM organized the visit to Albania of Tony Wheeler, founder and publisher of Lonely Planet Publications. Following his visit, he published two travel articles and Albania was later declared as one of the top upcoming destinations to visit.
- Helped create new itineraries for Albanian tourism along the south coast.
- Advised the industry and Ministry of Tourism on international branding.
- Improvements in their marketing and promotion materials for Albania Travel Nights and international travel trade fairs such as the World Travel Market and ITB Berlin.
- Introduced international media to individual businesses for coverage in online and offline articles that have appeared around the world.
- Introduced firms to foreign tour operators that want to include Albania as a destination in their catalogues.
- Arranged for the distribution of firms’ information on the first ever tourism information stand at Tirana International Airport.
- Assisted with the improvement of firms’ websites and online marketing.
- Hotels were introduced to the free online booking service of Web Reservations International, which is one of the preferred providers for Lonely Planet travelers. Over 30 hotels joined WRI and began receiving bookings.
- Advised firms on branding as part of their marketing and promotion.
In Education and Training at the industry level, new ideas and approaches to tourism were introduced in the following areas to over 750 trainees:
- Customer service
- Classification and quality standard systems for hotels
- Insurance for tourism companies
- Travel trade fair participation by the industry
- Hotel staff training and certification
- Tour guide training
- Cultural and community tourism and heritage preservation
At the firm level, training and education were focused on the above marketing and promotion related activities, as well as workshops in the following:
- Customer service – Firms were advised on ways to improve customer service and thus improve their product delivery.
- Travel trade fairs – 21 industry staff participated in travel trade fair training programs.
- Hotel staff certification – SW Associates organized through EDEM for over 20 hotels to have 26 staff participate and receive the “Certified Hospitality Department Trainer” certification provided through examination by the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Educational Institute, one of the world’s best sources of hospitality education and training programs.
- Tour guide training – Over 100 guides have been trained throughout Albania based on the international standards of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations.
- Cultural heritage and community tourism – Cheryl Hargrove, SW Associates consultant and President of partner firm HTC International, advised and trained over 30 residents, seven guesthouse owners, and 15 local craftsmen in the Rehova and Korce region on ways to improve their tourism product offers, including handicrafts and food items that would be of interest to visitors.
- Advised the Albanian Ministry of Tourism, National Tourism Organization (later renamed to National Tourism Agency) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs on maximizing the benefits of a travel and tourism industry for the people and economy of Albania.
- Assistance was especially focused on leveraging the Government’s support of positioning Albania as a tourist destination at international travel trade fairs.
- Advised on improvements in NTO materials and the Albania stand, conducting press conferences and events on the stand, and use of an EDEM-created “Tourism Communications Toolkit” for integrating all NTO communications efforts.
When the tourism cluster development activities began in early 2004, the UNWTO estimated that Albania had received 750,000 international tourist arrivals, mostly arrivals from neighboring countries –Serbia & Montenegro (including Kosovo) 299,000, Macedonia 100,000,Italy 52,000 and Greece 41,000. By the end of 2008 and the completion of the EDEM program, arrivals exceeded over 1 million with increased international tourism from higher spending markets such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands — all markets targeted by the EDEM tourism program through the above activities.