Albania

Indicator: 8.9.2 Proportion of jobs in sustainable tourism industries out of total tourism jobs 

Data Source: Digital platforms

What does the rating of a five-star hotel in booking.com tell us about jobs in sustainable tourism?

Albania  recently featured in numerous magazines as Europe’s hidden gem, has a shoreline of 363 km long and beautiful sightseeing sites across different cities and towns which make tourism a key industry in the country’s development path . According to the report ‘Travel & Tourism, Economic Impact 2017 Albania’, 26.2% of the total GDP in 2017, came from the overall contribution of travel and tourism and supported 95,500 (7.7% of total employment) which makes the tourism industry a critical factor in the economic growth and development of the country. Taking into consideration the importance of tourism to the national economy, its sustainability is absolutely critical. However, the traditional data does not provide insights on proportion of jobs in sustainable tourism industries out of total tourism job.  So we set off to see what could give us insights into the true nature of sustainability in Albania.

In light of this, we wanted to learn how can we develop insights into the sustainable tourism industry and how much it contributes to jobs in Albania. This question also happens to be a Tier III indicator (8.9.2) of the Sustainable Development Goals and one for which there was no data available in Albania. The increasing usage of Booking and TripAdvisor, as well as the high number of hotels in these platforms, indicated that this was a good starting porting.[1] Thus, as the sheer volume of our digital breadcrumbs increases every second, we decided to explore the viability of new data.

How did we do it? 

In the official data blackout, we turned to four different data sources:

  • There are 1675 hotels in Albania on booking.com, and this was our starting point. 
  • Then we went on to TripAdvisor – on a sample of 300 hotels, we were able to get insights on the quality of the hotels is determined from rewards given to the hotels. These rewards included “Traveler’, Choice 2018 Winner” and the ‘Certificate of Excellence”, while ‘the Green Leader Sustainability Award” was not available to Albanian hotels at this point. 
  • We tapped into “Authentic Albania Quality Mark” to identify hotels which had been  The project discriminated non-sustainable hotels to the sustainable ones based on the hotels’ labels, ratings, and reviews.

Furthermore, as online information does not contain data on employees number, the study used the data from Greek Tourism Statistics to calculate the number of employees by being based on the assumption that more employees can be inferred from the star rating and the number of rooms a hotel has.

What did we learn?

We looked at 89 variables across 5 categories, and estimated that 887 employees as working in the 76 sustainable hotels (thus, the sustainable hotels are presumed to be larger than the average Albanian hotel on Booking.com). This equals 11.4 % of all estimated employees in our dataset of 1,675 hotels in Albania.

We found that sustainable hotels performed better across a range of aspects:

  • Their rating was on average 8.5 on booking, as opposed to 7.25 for non-sustainable
  • They have above 3.5 stars, whereas non-sustainable ones had on average 1.5
  • A significantly higher share of their reviews were in English, compared to the rest of them
  • Had more rooms, longer descriptions and were more likely to have a restaurant in the premises.

The awards on Trip Advisor, the number of stars, and reviews were the criteria to differentiate between sustainable hotels and non-sustainable hotels.  The data combined from two platforms enabled the project to measure SDG III indicator 8.9.2 globally, on time and cost- efficiently,. The project was focused in Albanian industry; however, it showed the opportunity to measure jobs in sustainable tourism which could be globally compared by only using open data from online platforms.

As much as we enjoy experimenting with new data sources, it is more important that we are now discussing with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on using these insights to identify sustainable hotels, which are intended to receive VAT reductions.

Follow this space to find out what happens next.

[1]  World Travel & Tourism Council (2017).”Travel & Tourism, Economic Impact 2017 Albania” https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic-impact-research/countries-2017/albania2017.pdf

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