What Foreign Investors should Beware of in Durres Albania

The Adriatic coastline of Albania is a natural treasure, often described as the pearl of Albania. The rugged natural beauty of the landscape meets long sandy beaches which stretch down to the shores of the sea. The public beach at Durres is the biggest beach in Albania, and the most popular.

Foreign tourism is a relatively new industry in Albania and the government is actively encouraging foreign tourism as a means to bolster the economy. Albania is predicted to be one of the growth areas in European tourism and the country is involved in rapid construction of tourist accommodation to keep pace with expected demand.

Developers in Durres are constructing apartment blocks in the hope of making a profitable sale to foreign investors. However investors should keep a keen eye on the problems which the area is facing regarding pollution as unless the situation is controlled it could be a big negative as far as foreign tourism is concerned.

The infrastructure in Durres is not yet sufficient to keep pace with the development and uncontrolled sewage is illegally discharged into the sea. In the summer Durres public beach is noisy, crowded and dirty, touching the polluted waters of the ocean. The polluted waters between Durres and Kavaje contravene Albania’s commitment to the protection of the coastal waters. The situation has now reached emergency levels with the Prime Minister Sali Binsha ordering “urgent measures to clean up tourist areas from dirt and urban waste.” The mayor of Durres, Vangjush Dako has responded by saying they have worked on the area and they will “work on the sand and disinfect it from bacteria and insects.”

Until now the environmental laws have not been enforced in Albania, and industrial waste and raw sewage combine to make for dangerous levels of pollution. There is a need within Albania to educate the people about keeping their environment clean as much of the beach pollution is blamed on the habits of the populace who also contribute to the pollution.

The situation in Durres has now reached the level that the police have been called in to enforce the laws concerning the discharge of uncontrolled sewage which is not a new problem. In some of the waters close to Durres the pollution caused skin rashes on those using the sea a couple of years ago. Pollution levels are currently far above World Health Organization standards and the beaches in the Durres area have been ranked as the most polluted in a recent report.

Albania has received international funding and has been working on new sanitation plants to deal with the sewage problem but it is clear that some kind of enforcement in the area should have been brought in before now if the country is serious about encouraging foreign tourism. The unsanitary and polluted water poses health risks and yet there are no warnings posted to advise that the waters are polluted beyond acceptable levels.

Even before the new construction was cited as an issue contributing to pollution concerns Durres had a history of pollution. A decade ago Durres was home to the Porto Romano chemical plant, one of the most contaminated places in the whole of the Balkans, with open sewage running near.

Those who are involved in purchasing off plan developments in Durres should put pressure on their developers to comply with the laws which are in place regarding pollution and raise their concerns with the local municipality if things do not improve. However with the police now playing an active role it is more likely that the illegal practices will be stopped and more investment made in the infrastructure.

 source: Balkan press