Building friendships - building a stronger economy
As you might remember, our last report highlighted the exciting – and highly visible – progress underway today in Gjirokastra; current challenges that may, unfortunately, overwhelm the progress; and ways you can help support this progress by sharing AiP’s information with university programs and with potential corporate sponsors
The dire condition of many historic buildings in Gjirokastra was brought to the public’s attention in July 2005. At a meeting of UNESCO held in Durban, South Africa, a unanimous vote declared that Gjirokastra’s "World Cultural Heritage" was at risk. The citizens of Gjirokastra took on this challenge, deciding that development of their cultural resources and increasing tourism was a means to address the crisis
AiP’s involvement in saving the city’s architectural heritage was a result of this determination.
We know that creating a strong relationship between cultural heritage and tourism makes destinations, such as Gjirokastra, more attractive and competitive as places to live, to visit, to invest in and to gain employment. This is the key to Gjirokastra’s very survival.
Tourism has indeed increased since concerted preservation efforts began, with official data from Gjirokastra Municipality showing that in 2009 the number of visitors was 15,894 and by 2014 numbers reached 35,000. Much more remains to be done. Many of the city’s magnificent tower houses are still in a state of near collapse, and the need for international support is much greater than the current resources invested.
In the meantime, $4,992 USD was approved by UNESCO on February 2, 2016 to be allocated for "Development of Monitoring Indicators for the "Historic Centres of Gjirokastra and Berat"". The results of this monitoring will be beneficial for planning and prioritizing future preservation work.
We are now focusing our efforts on finding one or more major funders to join us in undertaking the complete restoration of one of the many endangered tower houses. Only by identifying these sources of support will we be able to make a greater impact.
This will be our last report to you until we can announce the start of a fully funded project. We thank you for seeing the value of our work and agreeing with us that –
Preservation is a powerful tool for change.