Albania was once the most inaccessible country in Eastern Europe, with tight entry regulations keeping most Western visitors out. In the early 1980s, persons explicitly forbidden to visit the country were US citizens, Soviet citizens, and full-bearded men. However, since the advent of democracy, Albania has slowly become accessible to the outside world. Tourists can now obtain visas within 2 weeks. In promoting travel to Albania, the official tourist agency cites the Adriatic beaches, especially at Durrës, Vlorë, and Sarandë, and the picturesque lakes. The most popular sports are soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and basketball.
In 2000, about 317,000 visitors arrived in Albania, spending a total of US $389 million. Hotel rooms numbered 2,954.
In 1999 the UN estimated the daily cost of staying in Tiranë at $115–$179. Rural areas may be as low as $48.