Gjirokastra began a slow climb out of the initial chaos of the communist collapse, only to fall again during the 1997 crisis that revolved around electoral fraud and the collapse of pyramid savings schemes where thousands lost their life savings. A significant part of the Bazaar was burned or otherwise damaged during this time, and the town suffered a state of siege as people struggled to survive in a violent and lawless environment. The crisis triggered another mass emigration, abandoning many historic buildings to decay and collapse. The days of the Museum City were long gone and the state was no longer able to exercise its legal obligation to fund the maintenance and conservation of Gjirokastra’s historic buildings.
Today the future of Gjirokastra looks a little brighter. The base of the economy is agricultural, and food processing businesses have grown up in the region to take advantage of the high quality fruit, vegetable and dairy products. The cheese of Gjirokastra and its region is famous nationwide. The town has a university and is the central administrative hub for the region. The historic centre of Gjirokastra was inscribed as a UNESCO site since 2005.
Tourism is proving to be one of the best hopes for economic development in Gjirokastra, and a lot of businesses such as hotels, guest houses and restaurants are flourishing.