CHwB Albania has concluded its analysis and adaptation to the local context of the Berlin University of Technology/ Urban Management Program (TUB/UM) proposal for “Sustainable Models of Conservation and Revitalization for the Historic Villages of Vuno & Qeparo”. A short summary of proposals can be found here below.
Building upon the non-negotiable need of discussing and optimizing these innovative ideas with the support and buy-in from the local communities and key stakeholders, we are glad to propose a few adjustments aimed at increasing the adaptability of such interesting models in the local context.
For Qeparo, based on the extended discussions with local owners; the meetings with representatives of local and central institutions; the feedback from actors operating in the field of tourism and cultural heritage; grounded also on a solid analysis of the economic and legal contexts, we recommend that the scattered hotel should be based, at least during its start-up phase, on a grant-scheme (and the related technical assistance) that would balance better the financial and entrepreneurial risks, which currently sit entirely with the local owners. A variety of funding sources have been identified but further exploration is required should the project proceed to the next stage.
The adapted model of the scattered hotel overcomes also the inability for the local owners to join forces to create “cooperatives” or “land trusts” by basing the modus operandi of such structure on the classic form of “Limited Liability Company”. The proposal has raised the interest of several local owners that have expressed willingness to continue the dialogue about the scattered hotel in Qeparo. They were invited to carefully consider mock-ups of the planned interventions on their properties, costs and calendar of investments and the very encouraging return on investment rates. There seems to be a consensus among them and the core group of stakeholders that such a model’s finality should be to find the right balance between the opportunities related to tourism and preservation of the authenticity of the village. This balance needs to be established on a specific Visitor Experience that only Old Qeparo can provide and that needs to be clearly formulated prior to the operationalization of the scattered hotel. Its successful delivery requires support not only from the local owners, but it also entails a strong commitment from the Himara Municipality in partnership with Destination Marketing Organizations, tour operators and local inhabitants.
On the other hand, the Conservation Lab proposed for Vuno is to become an independent non-for-profit entity that would deliver training to local residents and students in restoration/conservation with an overall goal of enhancing local and authentic tourist experience. The setting up of the Conservation Lab was foreseen to be financed by profits generated from the scattered hotel in Qeparo, and was thought as a main body to implement all the conservation works, using the ongoing conservation for practical learning and teaching. But the model originally proposed has several crucial questions to solve, from the lack of local skill, to the need for structuring of a possible training body complying with long term and sustainable training of crafts-persons and students or the uncertainty of investments coming from the neighboring Qeparo residents. The adapted model initially proposed 2 possible partner schemes. After consultations with one of the key stakeholders, the Institute of Monuments of Culture (IMC), our proposal is focused on the more realistic scenario of developing local skills through certified training of local master crafts-person and apprentices, and the possible consolidation of IMC Regional Center for Conservation & Restoration of South East Europe into a center for training delivery in the future, and which could have a local out posting in Vuno. Furthermore, creating and strengthening the links with Academia is as well a crucial activity and therefore relevant actions are strongly suggested.
This project was funded by GIZ in the framework of The Integrated Sustainable Development of the Southern Coastal Region Program.