11.08.2011 - UNESCO Venice Office

Tusa Report: The Management and Governance of Archaeological Parks in Albania

©2010 MDG-F/United Nations Albania Report Cover

The publication “Fiscal Management and Governance Structure of the Archaeological Park System in Albania with Particular Attention to Apollonia and Antigonea Archaeological Parks”, completed by Prof. Sebastiano Tusa in March 2010, is now available for download in English and Albanian. It provides an up-to-date analysis of Albania’s archaeological park system, making a range of proposals to enhance visitor experience, safeguard cultural and natural heritage, and harness park management and governance to foster local development. The publication was enabled by the MDG-F Joint Programme “Culture and Heritage for Social and Economic Development”, implemented with the close cooperation of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports of Albania.

Albania is a country of rich cultural-historic heritage, home to many important archaeological sites from the Greek, Roman, Venetian and Albanian periods. Centuries of change have erased some of these traces, but still Albania’s earth is full of remnants of its past civilizations. It is only during the last decades that the country’s government began to systematically record and protect its archaeological heritage.

To contribute to these processes, UNESCO supports the expansion and professionalization of Albania’s archaeological parks with emphasis on the ancient cities of Apollonia and Antigonea. “The thing is that Albania’s rich and diverse cultural heritage is often undervalued both inside and outside the country”, says Zhulieta Harasani, National Professional Officer in Albania, “which in fact gives us a great opportunity to show how it can be a strong factor for social and economic development”. To assess future opportunities for archaeological parks in Albania, including their protection, promotion, and accessibility, Prof. Tusa was invited as an independent observer to analyze present governance and management structures and provide suggestions for improvement.

In his final report, Prof. Tusa highlights the opportunities for sustainable tourism development, which could make a positive impact on the local economy. He suggests that Albania’s archaeological parks should be represented at international tourism fairs, more online information provided, signposts increased, and roads leading to the archaeological sites improved. His range of proposals is summarized in various tables indicating the level of priority ascribed to each activity. Overall, the report sees great potential for an increased number of annual visitors who will not only make day trips to a specific archaeological park, but also discover its surroundings, visit its nearby villages, explore its natural environment, and thereby generate positive externalities.

The archaeological parks Apollonia and Antigonea are analyzed in detail. Already, they host various cultural festivals, fairs, and workshops throughout the year, in addition to giving visitors the opportunity to explore the ongoing excavations. Both of these parks, Apollonia situated close to the village of Pojani and Antigonea located at the heart of the Drinos valley, are surrounded by beautiful rural landscapes. The remoteness of the sites is both a strength and a weakness since it gives the visit an aspect of adventure and discovery, but at the same time makes them less accessible to the broader public. Among the suggestions listed for these sites are the extension of visitor centers and museums, the placement of picnic areas and benches, the creation of cafeterias and gift shops, improved vegetation management, new ticketing systems, and better roads and parking spaces. Moreover, the archaeological parks could benefit from a closer collaboration with the Albanian National Tourism Agency to further promote themselves as visiting destinations.

This report is posed to become a key document in the strategic planning processes regarding the safeguarding and promotion of Albania’s archaeological heritage. It was specifically designed as an external perspective to avoid bias and spark discussion about new management and government practices without enforcing one ‘best practice’ on the country’s diverse archaeological sites. It is hoped that park administrators and cultural policy makers will find the analysis insightful and feel inspired to conceive of their own innovative means to enrich and promote Albania’s cultural heritage.

The MDG-F Joint Programme on ”Culture and Heritage for Social and Economic Development” is financed by the Spanish Fund for the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and is being implemented by the Albanian Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports and the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with UNDP and UNESCO.

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