NOT QUITE TRACEY ISLAND
Sazan Island, located off the coast of Albania, is an old WWII military base that is being opened up to tourists
A MYSTERIOUS military island with secret bunkers and tunnels designed to withstand nuclear attack could be the next European summer vacation hotspot.
Sazan Island, located off the coast of Albania, has a pristine coastline, but it is still shrouded in mystery – even to most Albanians.
That’s because the island was once a fortified, isolated military base and has never had any civilian population.
It was first used by Italy’s fascist regime during the 1930s.
Albania’s post-World War II communist regime considered it the country’s “aeroplane carrier, the port of defence, the key to controlling the Otranto Strait,” according to officers from that era.
The island’s trenches and tunnels were built by the communist government to stave off a Western invasion. And although communism fell in 1992, the ruined buildings still contain old beds, kitchen utensils, school benches and chairs.
Now, Albania’s Defence ministry is officially opening up the subtropical island to tourists.
Defence Minister Mimi Kodheli signed an agreement with the Economy Minister Milva Ekonomi on Wednesday to allow tourists to visit during the warmer months, from May until October.
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The decision came about after many tour operators insisted that visiting the island would be a popular attraction, Ms Ekonomi said.
And considering tourism is a main source of income for the cash-strapped Balkan country, she said opening Sazan Island up to tourists is “an important event for the Albanian economy”.
Ms Kodheli said Sazan would “no doubt” be a popular tourist attraction “due to its position”.
The island is strategically located where the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea — where the popular Geek Ionian Islands are — meet.
The Albanian government is also considering letting tourists visit two other naval military bases close to the island — Pashe Alimani and Orikum — with archaeological sites found there.
Some 4.7 million tourists visited Albania in 2016.