Philippines, Albania sign visa waiver agreementBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines- Filipinos can now go to Albania, one of the top travel destinations in the world, without getting a visa.
Philippines recently signed an agreement with Albania, the number 1 country for travel in 2011 according to travel magazine Lonely Planet, for the waiver of visa requirements, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“On September 9, the two countries signed the ‘Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Service and Official Passports’,” the DFA said in a statement.
“The agreement will facilitate exchanges of high-level and official visits and hopefully pave the way for greater cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres,” it said.
Albania, which is located in Europe just northwest of Greece, was visited by 4.2 million tourists in 2012. The tourism industry has been contributing up to 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2013.
“Since backpackers started coming to elusive Albania in the 1990s, tales have been told in ‘keep it to yourself’ whispers of azure beaches, good cuisine, heritage sites, nightlife, affordable adventures and the possibility of old-style unplanned journeys complete with open-armed locals for whom travelers are still a novelty,” Lonely Planet said in its website.
The 28,748 square kilometer country (smaller than the Cagayan Valley Region in Luzon which is 31,159 square kilometers) is home to nearly 3 million people as of 2011.
Philippine ambassador to Albania Virgilio Reyes Jr. signed the agreement which was the first since bilateral diplomatic relations was established between the two countries 26 years ago.
“The signing ceremony was preceded by a meeting between the two envoys that discussed the status of Philippine-Albanian relations and other agreements under negotiation, including a Cultural Cooperation Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Establishment of a Political Consultations Mechanism between the Philippine DFA and the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” it said.