Albania bulldozes restaurant after owner attacks tourists

Albania has become a tourist hotspot for cheap travel in Europe (AFP Photo/Gent SHKULLAKU)

Tirana (AFP) - Albanian officials on Wednesday razed a beachfront restaurant whose owner was captured on camera attacking a car rented by Spanish tourists, as the country scrambles to clean up its reputation as a burgeoning holiday destination.

The incident, filmed by the victims' tour guide from inside their vehicle, took place at the weekend in Porto-Palermo on the Ionian coast in southern Albania, a popular tourist spot.

The viral video shows the restaurateur punching through the windshield of the vehicle and ripping the glass while he clings to the bonnet for several minutes as the tourists drive away.

The restaurant owner, 51-year-old Mihal Kokedhima, was arrested and faces trial for "verbally assaulting a group of Spanish tourists for futile reasons", damaging their car and causing minor injuries, police said.

According to local media reports, the tourists were not happy with the service at the restaurant and left after the owner became aggressive.

Kokedhima told the court the Spaniards had tried to leave without paying.

During their probe, officials found that his restaurant "Panorma" had been built without an official permit three years ago and that no taxes were ever paid.

On Wednesday, a demolition team bulldozed the restaurant perched above the white beach and azure waters.

Albanian officials apologised to the Spanish tourists while Prime Minister Edi Rama condemned "the barbarian who attacked our Spanish friends (and) violated the sacred code of Albanian hospitality".

One of the Spanish tourists replied in a video posted online that "one man does not represent a whole country" and promised to return someday.

Since it emerged from communism in the 1990s, Albania has slowly become a destination for cheap and adventurous travel in Europe, drawing visitors to its long coastline and dramatic mountains.