Santorini, Cyclades, Greece, by Mariusz Kluzniak (CC 2.0)
We invite you to join us as we explore the business of Balkan tourism as well as the variety of memorable pleasures that it offers to visitors who discover the Balkans. With approximately 105 million visitors to the Balkans each year, the region has become an important tourist destination by virtue of all that it has to offer those who come to explore its UNESCO World Heritage sites, archaeological treasures, relaxing spas, cultural festivals, historical landmarks, mountain resorts, traditional cuisine, performing arts, wildlife excursions and unparalleled sports adventures – all within easy reach of any international visitor to the Balkans as well as regional residents who will find a myriad of holiday pleasures close to home.
From an economic perspective, travel and tourism promote employment, exports, supplemental foreign currency reserves, advanced technology, an enhanced domestic supply chain, domestic consumption, private capital investment and public sector expenditures including capital investment for budget items such as museums, national parks and transportation infrastructure. Among various Balkan countries, tourism represents a significant portion of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), reaching as high as 10% in Albania, 13.6% in Bulgaria, 18% in Greece and 20% in Croatia compared to 9% for the European Union as of 2013.
Of course, it is only natural that more and more people are discovering the Balkans following centuries of local experience in cultivating the great traditions of hospitality. It is well known that in ancient times, travellers from the “outside world” who brought news and entertainment were welcomed by their hosts and favoured with preferential food, drink and accommodations to ensure an enjoyable and memorable experience for their guests in the hope of a return visit someday.
Along with having developed the art of hospitality as hosts to visitors, Balkan natives also explored the world and shared their travel experiences upon their return home. This practice dates back at least 2,000 years as, for example, Pausanias (A.D.110 – 180) documented and lectured on his legendary travels in Europe and the Middle East. Through these experiences as hosts as well as travellers, generations of Balkan citizens have left us a valuable legacy that has developed into our modern travel industry which we are continually trying to improve in the same proud tradition as our forefathers.
Today, travel is easier and more accessible than ever before with special services to meet the needs of everyone, including students, seniors and travellers with special needs. Quick access to information concerning historical sites, restaurants, shopping, overnight accommodations, transportation, cycling paths and more is increasingly available through cutting-edge mobile applications and other technologies.
In our tourism sections featuring Balkan culinary, education, history, nature and sport tourism as well as national tourism videos from each country in Discover the Balkans, we offer you a glimpse into the wonderful world of Balkan travel from which lifelong memories are made and to which we hope you will want to return.