Albanian world heritage site struggles without tourists

GJIROKASTRA, Albania (AP) — Tourism had been flourishing in the UNESCO-protected southern Albanian city of Gjirokastra. Following renovation of the city’s center with its traditional 200-300-year-old homes on the slopes below the 13th-century fortress, many residents turned their homes into guesthouses — and welcomed 120,000 tourists in 2019 who came to sample their architectural beauty, hand-made ornaments and tasty cuisine. The coronavirus pandemic brought an abrupt halt to that, frightening off the tourists from the birthplace of communist dictator Enver Hoxha and Nobel literature laureate Ismail Kadare. 2021 prospects are still bleak and residents are calling for government help to keep their businesses afloat.