In August last year, an international team, co-directed by Neritan Ceka of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, Peter Campbell of the University of Southampton, and the Albanian National Coastal Agency discovered the remains of a large settlement from the Roman period under the sea in Vlore, not far from its Triport fishing harbor. The discovery expanded the already existing archaeological site of Triport with about eight acres of submerged structures. This is just one of many underwater sites along the Albanian coastline, which, according to the news on Monday, could count among the tourist attractions of the country.
Scuba diving and coastal development were restricted under Albania’s communist regime, but things are changing. The Albanian National Coastline Agency has plans to promote the underwater archaeological sites for tourism, according to recent news. Under the supervisions of Auron Tare, the General Director of the agency, the Albanian Centre for Marine Research, in partnership with INA (Texas, USA), A&M and RPM Nautical Foundation from Key West Florida, investigated and discovered 38 shipwrecks along the Albanian coast. Some of these are older than 2,000 years, proving that ancient Illyria was a commercial node.
Tare explained that, as the country does not have a scuba diving industry Albania’s 220-mile underwater coastline develops slowly as a tourist destination. The director of the Albanian National Coastal Agency (Agjensia Kombetare e Bregdetit) also explained that the coast needs legal protections and better care.
“We have a lot of such archaeological underwater heritage but, so far, we have not known how to keep, preserve and use them,” he told the press.
To raise awareness on the issue and to promote the richness of the Ionian Sea, the Albanian National Coastal Agency organized a small photo exhibition “Real underwater Albania” to promote its marine treasures. The exhibition was displayed on a pedestrian street – Pedonalja in Tirana – on Monday, February 13, 2017. It was a modest spread counting only 30 photographs, but it was significant for the potential of underwater research and tourism development in the region. The exhibition was organized in cooperation with the Albanian National Commission for UNESCO.