17.07.2021 – 21:46
The Albanian Association of Tour Operators and Tourist Agencies has addressed the Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Olta Xhaçka and the Minister of Tourism and Environment, Blendi Klosi, raising the concern of the refusal to enter Albania of 48 Iraqis, including 30 doctors, as the Albanian Consulate in Istanbul was not granted a visa. The association states that everything was organized and the booking was in detail.
The association further states that the Iraqi tourists were selected by the Iraqi Operator to be people with professions, to have previously traveled as tourists to different countries and to have a suitable economic level to make tourist trips.
“Any decision to refuse entry to Albania should be based on the individual data of each and not on the prejudice that every Iraqi is an asylum seeker,” the association said. Finally, the association demands from the state authorities, an investigation of the actions of the consulate in Istanbul and transparency for the legality of these actions, which it considers sabotaging.
Tirana, on 17.07.2021
The Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Edi Rama,
Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Mrs. Olta Xhaçka
Minister of Tourism and Environment Mr. Blendi Klosi.
Welcoming the abolition of visas for citizens of some Middle Eastern countries who want to visit Albania or spend their holidays in our country, we present to you a completely unjustified action of our Consulate in Istanbul, which refused visas to a group of 48 persons, Iraqi tourists, who had paid the package of a tourist trip to Albania.
As Iraq was not included in the countries for which the Albanian Government lifted the visa regime, Tourists from Iraq are obliged to obtain tourist visas from our consulate in Istanbul.
The efforts of the Albanian Tour Operator and the Iraqi Partner, who two months ago came and paid a visit to Albania to study the possibilities for bringing groups of tourists from Iraq, failed without starting yet. Iraqi tourists were selected by the Iraqi Operator to be people with professions, to have previously traveled as tourists to different countries and to have a suitable economic level to make tourist trips.
Reservations for flights and hotels in Albania were organized for the group of 48 people. We applied for visas online and were asked – we emphasize – to submit paid tickets and hotels. For 48 people, the Iraqi operator was forced to pay about 30 thousand USD for plane tickets and about 3500 Euros for visas. Hotels in Albania were also prepaid.
The mass rejection of tourist visa applications is for us an unjustified behavior and not based on the criteria and rules in force. We think and are convinced that the prejudices that have dominated in making this rejection decision, are very harmful and undermine the efforts of domestic and foreign Tour Operators to develop Tourism and expand the map of countries from which Albania receives tourists.
In the Group of 48 Iraqi Tourists, there were 30 Doctors and Doctors who were denied visas without any rights. Any decision to refuse entry to Albania should be based on the individual data of each and not on the prejudice that every Iraqi is an asylum seeker…. Iraqi doctors who would come for a seminar or conference accommodated in the best 5-star hotel in Tirana, and who planned to stay 3 more days in one of the most luxurious hotels in Saranda, to be all contingents to t ‘was rejected? Even the 20 members of another Iraqi group, with used stamps and visas to enter European countries, USA or Canada, Turkey or Egypt, were all to be rejected?
In addition to the significant losses caused to individuals and Tour Operators by prepayments of Tickets and Hotels that are almost non-refundable, an even greater loss is being caused to the Tourism sector and the image of Albania as an international destination.
The ATOA Association, through the publication of this open letter, requests from the state authorities, investigation of the actions of the Albanian consulate in Istanbul and transparency for the legality of these sabotaging actions of the work of Tour Operators.
Albanian Association of Tour Operators and Tourist Agencies