Albania planning to increase tourism numbers and boost property market

It may not seem the obvious thing to turn into a desirable residence but former bunkers from the Soviet era in Albania are being turned into useful living accommodation.

In the coastal town of Tale, some 30 miles from the Albanian capital of Tirana, the bunker is being converted into a hostel for young people.

It is part of an initiative to boost tourism in the country and also investment in real estate on the back of the expected increase in visitors.

Last month, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha stated that tourism had helped protect Albania from the current economic crisis and as a result, Albanian tourism officials have been working to build and implement a national strategy that will drive tourism further.

With this in mind, the country is turning one reminder of its past life behind the Iron Curtain and turned it into something positive, converting the igloo shaped concrete bunker into a backpacker hostel.

The joint German/Albanian tourism project has a number of German and Albanian students working to convert the former bunker into a hostel that will house up to eight people.

‘The real aim of this project is to turn the past into something positive and put beds in bunkers. It's about doing something useful with a feature from Albania's communist past that will help benefit the country in the future,’ said Ravin Maharajah, one of the British partners of a leading breach resort Lalzit Bay.

‘The innovative idea will provide cheap accommodation for tourists priced at juts €8 per night and will include all the fixtures and amenities you would expect from a hostel including wood floors, mattresses, a shower and a kitchenette. If all goes well, the plan to renovate a single bunker could rapidly expand especially considering there are around 750,000 of them,’ he explained.

Indeed, last month's speech by the Albanian Prime Minister pointed out that for the most recent months of 2012, compared with the same period of 2011, the number of foreign tourists arriving in Albania increased by 277,000, and thanks to tourism 190,000 new jobs were created.

‘Albania is focussed on doing what it can to grow tourism. Whether it's turning bunkers into hostels or developing five star beach front resorts such as Lalzit Bay, we must ensure that we cater to the needs of Albania's growing tourism industry. Many backpackers will enjoy making the bunker hostels their home but there is also a growing number who are looking for excellent rental investments or second homes in the nation,’ said Maharajah.

‘Buyers are looking for somewhere unique and different but distinctly Mediterranean. Lalzit Bay is a remarkable European buying opportunity because it is located on a beach just 30 minutes to the international airport and capital and when you see the unspoiled beach, you realise that you're seeing something really special,’ he added.

Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa offers a premium, exclusive beachfront product to investors who want the benefits of villa ownership including private gardens and terraces, exclusive services and more privacy as well as a range of facilities including private swimming pools, a BBQ area, tennis courts and superb restaurants for as little as €30,000.