The cost of managing and revamping the archaeological sites of Durres will cost the government an estimated $537 million, according to an Integrated Management Plan financed by the Albanian-American Development Fund (AADF), $500 million of which will relate to just matters relating to the Amphitheatre’s World Heritage Site application, according to the official document.
The draft plan is currently under public consultation.
The AADF is also believed to be in line to manage the process once it is approved, similar to that of Butrint. In the case of Butrint, they funded the management plant and then were granted the right to implement it at a later stage.
The plan will be implemented in three stages across the city’s archaeological sites, depending on the time needed to implement them.
Short-term (2021-2026) interventions will cost $36 million and target a slew of major areas in the city, including Roman Amphitheater, the Roman and Byzantine Baths, the Durrës castle, the Archeological museum and infrastructure investments in the tourist and trade areas.
An estimated $3 million for this phase has been allocated to the tendering and evaluation process.
In the mid-term (2027-2028), efforts will focus on fortifying the Amphitheater and nominating it as a World Heritage Site.
The plan estimates that the nomination process alone will cost $500 million, which will be allocated to “investigating why the [original] nomination was rejected, preparing new file, starting the lobbying process.”
The budget is not itemized, but the chapter on the nomination focuses on establishing a team to work on the nomination, conducting the necessary surveys, and gathering all the required documentation to be filed with the application dossier, as well as lobbying efforts.
The figure, which seems extremely high, has been queried by Exit with the AADF- mainly whether it is a typo or not, but no response has been received at the time of publication.
Stephan Dompke, founding chairman of World Heritage Watch and former UNESCO/UNDP cultural heritage program coordinator in Albania, explained to Exit that the sum is too high for the work involved in the application.
“This amount is so astronomical that I could only assume that it is a typing error. Even [$500.000] would be very high and could only be justified with excessive foreign consultancy fees. Moreover, a renomination of a site once rejected by UNESCO has no chance of being considered (art. 158 operational guidelines),” he said.
In the long term (the next eight to 15 years), the management of Durres will focus on creating an underwater aquatic park for the city.