The agency was established in 1988 under the title of National Agency for the Development of Archaeological and Historical heritage (or ANEP), under the law n° 88 of 25 February 1988, modified by the law 97-16 of 3 march 1997.
It is a non-administrative public establishment with a legal personality and financial autonomy subject to commercial law, under the authority of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage Conservation.
The Agency’s mission is to implement Government policy in the various cultural fields, particularly those connected with the presentation and interpretation of archaeological and historical heritage and its management, and to promote intellectual, literary and artistic creativity. Hence it establishes and implements programmes for heritage development and presentation (about sixty sites, monuments and museums), prepares and implements programmes and events of a cultural nature with various partners (in particular the National Heritage Institute) delivers authorizations required for organising cultural, leisure or commercial activities taking place within the confines of sites under its responsibility. The Agency also participates in the development of cultural tourism, promotes national cultural production in all its forms as well as investment in cultural industries.
Under the director general’s office, the AMVPPC is divided into seven departments: Technical, Cultural promotion, Management, Production and Organisation, Study and Programming, Administration and Finance, Coordination and follow-through.
Since its creation and along with the day-to-day management of activities within its assigned mission, the Agency has embarked on a large-scale scheme to present and promote cultural tourism based on projects with cultural, educational, environmental, social, tourist and economic objectives. Hence, the creation of the Carthage-Sidi Bou Said Archaeological Park; the refurbishment of the Baron d’ Erlanger’s palace in Sidi Bou Said, housing the Centre of Arab and Mediterranean Music; the Archaeological Park of Dougga, which is also the object of a Tunisian-French cooperation programme to support the presentation and interpretation of the site; the Sbeitla-Kasserine Archaeological Park which, for this region in the centre of the country, has created new dynamism in the tourist and economic sphere with a ripple effect on several local sectors of activity. And, of course, the development work underway on the Archaeological Park of Oudna (Uthina).
Similarly, the Agency’s action is directed towards the restoration, presentation, and interpretation of many sites and monuments in the urban and near-urban context, its major project being the restoration of several sections of the Zaghouan to Carthage Roman aqueduct.
A key part of the heritage the AMVPPC was entrusted to manage are the museums, the older ones of which have been rehabilitated, like the famous Bardo Museum, the museums of Enfidha, Nabeul and El Jem, as well the Popular Arts and Traditions museums of Monastir and Houmt-Souk in Jerba. The creation of new museums in Moknine, Chemtou, Mahdia and the Sahara museum in Douz has enriched the museum network. The Agency has also participated in the creation and design of museums for third parties: the National Military Museum (Ksar el Ouerda), the Mareth Line museum, the National Guard Museum and the Film museum.
New sites have been opened to visitors since the Agency’s creation: the Ancient El Haouaria quarries, the Christian catacombs in Sousse, the sites of Pheradi Majus, Neapolis and the Snailery in Gafsa. The same applies to monuments, including the Citadels of Hammamet, Tabarka, Kelibia, Ghazi Mustapha in Jerba and Mahdia, as well as the El Jem amphitheatre, the Ribat and the Great Mosque of Sousse and the Ribat of Monastir. In this domain, the Agency participates in the efforts of third parties pursuing the same objectives.
The Agency has introduced signage on sites to facilitate access to and the visit of sites and monuments and has also created visitors’ centres.
To present and highlight the architectural characteristics of a certain number of monuments, the AMVPPC has introduced artistic illumination at night.
The other aspects of the AMVPPC’s action are: promotion of cultural tourism within the context of a national plan drawn up in May 1999, involving different partners; promotion through cultural products, in particular publishing in all its forms; active participation in the celebration of Heritage Month and in thematic exhibitions both in Tunisia and abroad.
Within the framework of the application of a global modernisation strategy of the culture and heritage sector and the consolidation of cultural tourism, the Tunisian government, with the support of the World Bank, launched a project in 2002 for a global amount of 33 million dinars, for the management and enhancement of cultural heritage.
This five year project will seek to strengthen the legal and institutional framework and the commercialisation of tourist and cultural products and, finally, the refurbishment and the management of six selected sites : Carthage, Bardo Museum, Sousse Museum, the Medina of Kairouan, the archaeological site of Oudna and the island of Jerba. A unit operating within the AMVPPC is responsible for the project’s implementation.ch