Financial crisis does not thwart holiday travel


The Balkan region offers a variety of vacation choices for the holidays.

By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 21/12/12


Downtown Pristina laced in holiday decoration. [Linda Karadaku/SETimes]

Despite tough economic times and tighter household budgets, citizens in Southeast Europe are still making plans on where and how to spend the holidays. The region offers a variety of winter travel and tourism options, from the seashore to winter resorts.

Arjon Banishta from Pristina will travel with his family to Popova Sapka, a large winter resort in Macedonia, with 11 ski lifts and 30 kilometers of cross country ski trails.

"I know I will enjoy the snow, skiing," Arjon told SETimes. The family plans to spend a few hundred euros, which they can afford.

Etleva Haxhihyseni, a teacher from Albania, has been spending her winter holidays in Podgradec, by the lake on the border with Macedonia, for a decade.

"A lovely house by the lake … snow falling on New Year's Eve … calm and quiet, incredible nature, good company … but this'll be the first year we'll spend at home in Tirana. We are feeling the financial difficulties this year," Haxhihyseni told SETimes.

Others, however, can afford to travel out of the region.

Elsa Toska, a Tirana lawyer, will visit Italy, not only for vacation, but a time with her family. Albania has large emigrant communities in Italy and Greece.

"We'll spend around 1,300 euros, without the hotel fee, since we'll stay with my sisters," she told SETimes.

Glauk Haxhibeqiri, 21, a Pristina student, made no plans for the holidays, not only because of financial constraints, but because of visa liberalisation.

"We are totally isolated because of this visa thing, otherwise I could have gone somewhere in Europe," Haxhibeqiri told SETimes.

Kosovo is the only regional country still without visa liberalisation.

"I'll be first at home with family, and then go out partying with friends to pubs. At midnight we'll be at the square for a concert," he added.

Emrike Pantina, 39, from Fushe Kosova, a Pristina suburb, also plans to stay home.

"I can't go anywhere, there's no money. Low salaries, price raises, its winter and we [use] more power and pay more for it," Pantina told SETimes. "In the midst of this crisis, all we can do is watch the TV during holidays, hoping for no power cuts," she added.

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In neighbouring Macedonia, Fatos Musliu, a Skopje resident, will vacation with his family in Turkey, on the Aegean Sea.

"We'll spend some 1,200 euros for 10 days. We decided on Turkey because of the security, oriental food, and the warmth of the Turkish people," Musliu told SETimes.

Some intend to travel even further.

Voltan Prodani plans to spend a few days in Paris with his family. Spending about 2,000 euros, they'll tour the City of Lights, and take their daughter for a visit to nearby Disney Land.

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