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I've never been in the sea at Durres, though there are plenty of brave people who have. Most Western embassies here strongly advise against swimming in the waters off any of the major towns since they are all severely polluted. Now a study from the Ministry of Health has reached the same conclusions, singling out Durres, Vlora and Kavaja.

This is hardly surprising in the case of Durres since the entire beach front has been blighted by uncontrolled development, and you don't have to be a genius to work out where all the sewage from those new apartments, hotels and restaurants is going.

Quite apart from the dangers to public health for the local population, this level of pollution means that Albania will never develop into a major tourist destination in the way the government here seems to assume it will. Without clean beaches and clean water Albania won't have any tourist industry worth speaking of.

Whether anything will be done about the problem is unclear. There is much less construction on the Durres beach front now, but that's probably because there is hardly a scrap of land left to build on. Further along the coastal road, though, construction seems to be continuing.

The bigger question now is what will be done about existing illegal developments. Since few of these appear to be people's homes, they could be demolished without causing too much disruption. A handful of the better designed and better constructed ones could be allowed to remain after payment of a fine.

The real challenge would be creating a proper waste treatment infrastructure to allow for future, legal, development. Given the scale and expense of this kind of project I reckon the Ministry will be producing negative reports for some years yet, and those tourists are going to stick to Croatia.

Comments

ITS said…
I agree with you Alwayn...

So very sad and unfortunate but tourism seems like it's never going to really happen for Alania.
bryan-in-greece said…
Unless unfavourable currents in the Adriatic carry the sewage northwards towards Croatia! My girlfriend and I are considering a holiday on the coast of Montenegro this summer. Maybe a diving suit with metal fish-bowl style helmet might be in order?!! ;-)
Anonymous said…
i think we have become immune to Durresi beach since children.

For our health it is better to have clean beaches, but i don't really care about the tourist thing.

I don't like when the government says that it wants to develop tourism.
Afterall we were an isolated ountry for so long that we will go crazy with all the pressure from foreigners. They will judge everything and we won't like it. They will have more money and get the better spots. (they will steal our country) The law that foreigners can buy land in Albania was passed last year in July the exact day when there was chair-throwing in the parliament. It was passed at night outside the parliament hall, which is totally illegal. Maybe the foreigners ignited the chaos in the parliament so that they can steal.
Look at the corruption how French foreigners of Club Med stole Albanian land in the south bay of Kakome.
They will put fences in the sand and cut out bays (like private beaches in GReece). It will ruin everything. I want my children to have the fantastic summers that i grew up with every year. Tourists can go to Greece who is used to being a tourist destination, is used to publicity and boasting.
We are not like that.
I don't mind when they say that Albania is hell or Africa of Europe. I know how my country is like and that is enough for me. IT's my own paradise.
I don't want fame.
Anonymous said…
As long as there are Albanian fools who pay w/o asking for much service, then yes, Croatia will continue to have fun.

What I wonder about is: are Albanians really stupid, or do they just live in outer space. I'd rather beleive the later.
nick said…
What did club med steal, who did they steal it from? A bunch of mountaneers who used the land to grow 3 cows and a mule. If more resorts were open in Albania our economy would not be in the schackles that it is now. They would employ far more people than the peasants that allegedly have ownership over the land now.

And what summers do you want your kids to have? As someone who was born in Durres, I wouldn't want it to be the way it was or is. I would welcome the opportunity for foreign resorts to open up there and clean all that crap.

Actually, I dont even know how to respond to your comment there, since upon reading it a second time you call it your own "paradise". My friend, the Albanian beaches are anything but paradise. They are either undeveloped, or so badly developed that I'd rather them be totally undeveloped! So, if foreigners want to come and invest and open up real resorts I would love for it to be the next Cancun or Varadero. but I dont think anyone is rushing even though they are willing to give away the land for 150 years!
Anonymous said…
"What I wonder about is: are Albanians really stupid, or do they just live in outer space. I'd rather beleive the later."

yes, we are stupid. You are not Albanian and i couldn't care less about your insults. Since you are so smart get out of here!
Anonymous said…
"What did club med steal, who did they steal it from? A bunch of mountaneers who used the land to grow 3 cows and a mule. "

It's called PRIVATE PROPERTY! What if they came and they stole your house and your land one day?!

Those mountaneers have the best land in Albania! They have sworn to kill one Club Med tourist per year!

Tourists don't come to Albania!
Anonymous said…
"I would welcome the opportunity for foreign resorts to open up there and clean all that crap."

I think that you have no sense of business.

If you countinue like that our children will be only waiters and foreingers will own everything.
Don't be shortsighted!

The value of those properties is much higher to give them away almost for free. Actually, you haven't been folowwing the Kakome case. It was the first thing that this new government did. It disowned the villagers of their land and gave it to Club Med. Freaking French they even want the whole bay.
I'm from a village north of it and if they tried to touch my land, seriously i'd pluck someone's eyes out!

All those villas in the "Block" area in Tirana were bought by foreigners for about $300 each in the early 90s. Are you kidding me? In the middle of Tirana? That's just evil of them. They just used people because at that time we didn't know of capitalism and the sense of money. All foreigners living there one should be taken out immediately!

You are no one if you have no land and property. (Tom Cruise, from the movie with Nicole Kidman that they emigrate to America)
And plus why should i give my land, that my forefathers fought so hard for to some stranger who has CLub Med all over the world. He can go to hell!

People don't rush. 20 years from now things will be different.
Anonymous said…
"They are either undeveloped, or so badly developed that I'd rather them be totally undeveloped! "

Slowly they will develop. Look at the change since 1990.

"So, if foreigners want to come and invest and open up real resorts I would love for it to be the next Cancun or Varadero."

You misunderstand "invest". You are giving the "invest" word a positive connotation like they are doing you a favour. Actually, it's the opposite. They are steling you!It's not a good thing when it comes to grade A property like tourist spots. If they want to "invest" they can do it in industrial areas.

On the other point. I don't want my country to be a tourist spot. I want the beach to be empty in the south like it is now, or only with my(including Kosovars) people in Durres. The occasional tourist is ok, but not en masse. eww that's disgusting.
Look how tourists destroyed Ibiza now.
How about last year the Swedish tourist went topless in the middle of Saranda? They do it on purpose.
Why do u want them? Some young jerks smoking pot, teasing our girls, being dumb, complaining about everything, bringing AIDS.
nick said…
From your writings it shows how backwards you are. Then lets follow your example. Lets close all the borders. Lets stop foreigners from buying up albanian land and bringing AIDS here! In fact forget tourism, we need the land for ourself. Lets focus more on heavy industry and become a superpower, not dependent on anyone. Lets follow the example of the late ENVER!

Lookup any ECO101 course or textbook and you'll see your error.

I'm sorry but I cannot educate someone as stubborn to change and blind to reality!

Good luck to you and your entire village in southern albania fighting off the forces of capitalism in todays world-market economy.
our man said…
Erm..though I don't actually live in the Blok I am a foreigner living in Tirana. I hope your not planning to 'take me out' anytime soon. Perhaps if you are you could let me know in advance. Thanks.
seanachie said…
I have seen the beach at Dürres, albeit on a very bleak and rainy November afternoon two and a half years ago. The grey waves lapped on the shore, we were nearly blown away as we visited the amphitheatre and, yes, the beachfront developments are horrendous and depressing. But it is a charming town, more so than Tirana (which I did like, I will point out) and we had a fantastic meal at the newly-opened Restorant Rromega right beside the port, the chefs being locals recently returned from a ten-year stint in Venice. I hope their business is doing well.

Tourism in Albania is a long way away right now and perhaps that is not entirely a bad thing; getting infrastructure together is surely the real priority. If there ever were a country that needed to join the European Union, it is this one, and hopefully it will happen soon. It may be a poor country and without many of the things that people only a few hundred miles away take for granted, but it has a fascinating (if pained) history and people that manage to still be friendly and receptive despite fifty years of Hoxha-engendered madness. They remind me of the folk in the Donegal Gaeltacht where my mother comes from. Funny how people at the furthestmost parts of Europe can be so alike.
Anonymous said…
"Lets close all the borders."
"Lets focus more on heavy industry and become a superpower, not dependent on anyone. Lets follow the example of the late ENVER!"

you're exaggerating. What we need is balance between private and public and giving away my land to some stranger is not going to "develop" me or make me more "modern" like you. Our interests come first and then other people's plans. You can say whatever you want, but years from now i'll be better off than you cause i'll have my land. You and your kids will be welcome to swim in the shores that i won't close off.

What a coincidence, one day after writing my above comment i watched i BBC World how they are having such problems, strikes, revolts in Athens about fenced beaches.
Even the mayor of Athens is on hunger strike now:
http://news.oneindia.in/2007/05/18/greek-mayor-on-hunger-strike-over-beach-access-1179492514.html

Tourism, i can do it better than some club med with plans to build straw huts and reap profits from my land. So much about investment. Actually, the notion of private property that I'm defending is the total opposite of common property of communism times. I don't know where Enver came in here. You prabably miss the leader and your parents chanted "Parti Enver, Jemi gati kurdo here!" ;)

Climate reports have shown that the North and the Baltic seas will become the new Mediterranean. So, i don't think that it is smart to put all our efforts into tourism. The report specifically says that Mediterraneans countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, that rely the most on these activities will be hit hardest. This year already, (i watched this on Deutsche Welle), Germans have decided to stay at home for the holidays. No one will come anyway.


I think that relying on tourism is dangerous and a lazy alternative.

I know many Albanians don't liek Greeks that much, but we have to learn from their experience. They are debating now and comparing their country to the Czech Republic.
Anonymous said…
our man,
I thought that you were leaving in a short while.
These comments were not about you. I wish every non-Albanian was like you!

I was refering to the tendency that foreigners have as soon as they step in Albania to become charlatans. Because they have heard all these adventure stories from the early 90s of unlimited lawlessness and mafia they think that they can do whatever they can.
In Albania, the institutions are not as fast and as efficient as in more developed countries but they are still there, working. Sooner or later the truth always comes out and they get caught. Actaully, what the police does, is to let these people free for a while. Let them get their fancy cars, things that they can get away and make even more money till they become embroiled to their neck.
From the fall of communism, all of the disputes I have heard of between ALbanians and foreigners in the courts,Albanians have always won the cases. Club Med thinks it's cool and messed with corrupted officials. Don't they think that the other ogernment that will come is going to reverse the decision? It's just a matter of time.
If we want investment in Albania, we want clean companies and a fair legal business environment.
Now that we are opening up to the world and supposedly going towards the EU, foreigners are supposed to show us the right way. The opposite is coming true, they become sort of like us, balkanized worse than us when they stay here.
All I'm saying is that: you foreigners out there don't get that "smart" and call Albanians "stupid" as above for your own good. This land is not empty and has never been. They should behave like they do in their own countries.
Look at our own "smarties" that build illegal villas in the 90s everywhere in public parks or on other people's land in Tirana and elsewhere. 10 years later they were demolished because they were illegal and no one feels sorry for them. They only damaged themselves because thye wasted all their money in building. Keep your decency people.

Nick,
"Good luck to you and your entire village in southern albania fighting off the forces of capitalism in todays world-market economy."
I don't know what kind of person you are, insluting your own country men. Albania is very small, and everything concerning the south is your problem as well.

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