Development of Albania’s southern coastal region

Project description

Title: Integrated sustainable development of the southern coastal region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Albania
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Urban Development
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Albania: A shepherd and his flock, with Himara castle in the background. © GIZ


Tourism is a growing industry in Albania. In recent years, the country’s coastal areas, especially in the south, have experienced a boom in beach tourism during the months of July and August. However, local people, particularly in the rural hinterland, have benefited little from these activities. At the same time, illegal building projects along the coast have already impinged significantly on the openings for tourism. Nevertheless, there is still an abundance of natural beauty, with cultural landscapes, traditional villages and historical remains, alongside the sea and the mountains, all providing huge potential for the diversification of tourism.


The rural population benefits from the development of sustainable tourism in the southern coastal region.  

Albania: Qeparo, a hillside village with preserved tradition-al architecture. © GIZ


Germany is working with the Albanian Government to promote the sustainable economic development of the southern coastal region, in an effort that should ultimately benefit the whole national economy. This project supports rural development throughout the region of Vlora, with a special focus on tourism in the municipality of Himara and the villages of its hinterland, as well as a number of villages closer to the coast.

It cooperates closely with relevant bodies, such as the Ministry of Urban Development, the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, the National Tourism Agency, the Region of Vlora, the Himara Municipality and the tourism associations. It is active in two areas:

  1. Elaborating national and local spatial development plans – In providing technical assistance for the process of drafting spatial plans, the project supports efforts to reinforce coordination mechanisms, both at the national level and at the local level in the coastal municipalities of Vlora, Himara, Saranda and Konispol. It aims to support the development of planning processes in the region, so as to encourage the efficient use of land and guide public-private investments toward the sustainable exploitation of development potentials.
  2. Developing models for sustainable tourism – Here, the project assists its partners in the design of models and products for wider replication, supporting the design process from the assessment of ideas and conducting design workshops, to the search for potential multipliers. More specifically, the project supports the development of outdoor activities and events, such as hiking, mountain biking, cultural tours and festivals, which it uses as catalysts for sustainable tourism. In this respect, it also assists with the identification and mapping of routes, and it strengthens the capacity of rural tourism services (accommodation and related services). This should boost its competitiveness in both local and international tourism markets.

Besides these two specific pillars, the project is assisting with the development of a marketing strategy, including branding, promotion campaigns and creating links to the international market.

Albania: Mountain bikers riding down the hill from Pilur to Himara. © GIZ

It is also organising forums at the local level to enhance the collaboration with the beneficiaries, i.e. local communities and private-sector actors in the evolving sector of rural tourism. At these forums, the project can share news of its own progress while supporting a discussion of tourism and related issues between the local communities and government representatives.