Newly returned with charters, Poles have made their purchases of cognac and brandy, while Ukrainians and Belarusians, though active, are more moderate in spending. Serbs prefer “Skanderbeg” cognac
Souvenir shops are some of the units crowded with foreign tourists at the peak of the summer season. In 2020, these stores reported poor performance. The pan-Albanian tourism sector, which was the main tourist who visited the country last year, usually has no interest in buying souvenirs. It seems that the situation has started to change for the better this year. After the easing of restrictive measures against Albania by some countries, the souvenir business has also begun to revive.
“I think it is starting well, maybe better than most expected. Consolidated businesses managed to survive even during the pandemic situation, while less consolidated ones, of course, in some cases have left the market. If we talk about tourism in general, we see that the Poles have started to come to the area of Durrës, we expect the Italians or even the emigrants to come and there will be more liveliness than a year ago. As for the souvenir business, it remains to be seen whether the arrival of tourist groups will be reflected in a similar increase. Despite the difficult situation, we have tried to survive.
As a business in Durrës, where we first got hit by the earthquake and then the pandemic, things were even more difficult and we were forced to turn to the credit so as not to close. We have added the products and we hope to have a better year as the first signs are looking “- says Nereada Kulla, from” Marigo Souvernirs “, in Durrës.
She claims to give preference to Albanian products, artisans, or women in some typical areas, which, although not licensed, offer quality handicrafts of interest to foreigners.
“I always pay more attention to the Albanian part. I take artistic works, for example, in the Zadrima area. In Kruja I take the alleys. In Shkodra, costumes, glyco, soap and olive oil. In some ladies in Kavaja, carpets and keys in Prizren and Shkodra. Works that are not done in Albania are ordered from abroad.
I have increased the range of products in the store and for this I had to do a lot of work at the Archaeological Museum in Durrës. I went myself and saw the ones that can serve as the most representative design for our city. I lay out the basics myself and then with a designer I try to make the model. In each souvenir is written ‘Durrës is an Illyrian city’ to identify it with history. I note this because in some cases, foreigners come with books in their hands, asking for something like that. “The Germans, mainly”, says Mrs. Tower.
What about preferences, how do they remain? What do foreign tourists like to take with them?
“Poles buy a lot and have an interest in souvenirs, but they mostly prefer to buy cognac and brandy. Even Ukrainians and Belarusians buy, but not as much as Poles. They are also interested in small things like magnets or simple souvenirs, buy them for gifts and are encouraged because they like Albania very much, at least based on the impressions they give us when they visit us in the store. There has been a group of tourists from Serbia for years. This year the number is expected to be higher and they have the same preference. Especially for the ‘Skënderbeu’ cognac. They also take souvenirs with the look of Durrës, where the most popular is the “Beauty of Durrës”, but they avoid everything with national symbols. The parts of Kosovo and Macedonia do not have much influence on souvenir shops. “Maybe they make a difference in resorts and hotels for the consumption part, but not in us,” she says.
Regarding what can be done better to increase tourism and all related industries, she says that the fact that so many people go to the store, who are amazed by what they find here, shows a lot that Albania is not a well-promoted brand in the world.
“Many tourists who come, say that they did not know Albania or did not know that there was so much to see and visit. So what needs to be done is good marketing. The business is doing its job to increase the quality of service and to be at the height of a growing sector and the state should do the same, only to promote Albania internationally continuously “- emphasizes Mrs. Tower.