Unesco Status Sought for Kampot, Kratie and Battambang

Cambodia Daily, 7 April 2017

A bid to gain Unesco heritage status for three Cambodian cities is set to progress as the government prepares to make a formal request for Battambang City, Kratie City and Kampot City in June to be considered for preservation.

Work on plans to win recognition for the cities—“rich in ancient buildings” that deserve to be conserved, according to the request—first began more than two years ago.

Source: Unesco Status Sought for Kampot, Kratie and Battambang – The Cambodia Daily

Is Unesco status a blessing or a burden? New paper discusses Southeast Asian examples

From the Cambodia Daily and the Journal of Cultural Heritage:

The global recognition given to the Angkor temple complex in Siem Reap—and other sites around the world that receive U.N. world heritage status—does as much to damage as it does to preserve the historical gem, according to a new research paper.

The paper, published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage and made available online last week, outlines how recognition from Unesco is used as a tourism marketing tool, resulting in more visitor traffic to cultural sites, which threatens their short- and long-term sustainability.

Source: World Heritage Status, Tourists Threaten Angkor Preservation – The Cambodia Daily

See the journal article here: Is UNESCO World Heritage recognition a blessing or burden? Evidence from developing Asian countries

To both acknowledge and protect many cultural heritage expressions, sites and practices, UNESCO has instituted three conventions; Tangible Heritage, Intangible Heritage and Diversity of Cultural Expression. If a site/practice receives this UNESCO badge, it is an acknowledgment of its universal cultural and/or natural value as well as recognition of the need to protect it from harm. However, the UNESCO badge is an important marketing tool in world tourism and its presence ensures many more visitors to a site/practice that is UNESCO recognised. With increasing wealth and mobility, many more people are travelling than was possible even a decade ago. Increasing numbers of visitors can negatively impact on a site/practice as well as affect the local culture and integrity of a region, particularly in developing countries. So, is the UNESCO recognition a blessing or burden? This paper addresses the challenges that ensue from the UNESCO conventions by considering three UNESCO World Heritage case study sites in Asian developing countries. In particular, it seeks to understand the extent to which UNESCO’s World Heritage approach protects or further undermines the cultural heritage sustainability of these sites.

Weekend festival for Ayutthaya anniversaries

To celebrate the 666th anniversary of Ayutthaya Kingdom, an old capital of Thailand, and the 25th anniversary of Ayutthaya as a Unesco World Heritage Site, numerous activities under the theme of “Development In Accordance With The Footsteps Of Phraya Boran Ratchathanin” will be held by the Fine Arts Department and several public and private agencies at the Chantharakasem National Museum in Ayutthaya until Sunday.

Source: Remembering Ayutthaya | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

Price changes for Bagan, My Son next year

Two somewhat related stories on the changes to admission fees to Bagan in Myanmar and the My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam.

The My Son Sanctuary. Source: Viet Nam News 201512118
The My Son Sanctuary. Source: Viet Nam News 201512118

Bagan entry to be charged in kyat
Eleven Myanmar, 17 December 2015

My Son Sanctuary entrance fee to increase next year
Viet Nam News, 18 December 2015

The entry fee into Bagan heritage site will be collected in kyat from January 1, according to the Ministry of Culture.

The fee will be Ks25,000, equivalent to the current US$20.

The management board of the My Son Sanctuary in the central province of Quang Nam earlier this week announced to increase entrance fees by 40-50 per cent next year. The announcement has been sent to tour operators.

Full stories here and here.

Master plan for Ho Citadel’s preservation and management

The provincial government of Thanh Hoa have unveiled a master plan to manage the Ho Citadel World Heritage Site to help with the preservation and tourist management of the site.

Ho Citadel, Thanh Hoa Province. Source: Viet Nam News 20151111
Ho Citadel, Thanh Hoa Province. Source: Viet Nam News 20151111

Thanh Hoa launches preservation plan
Viet Nam News, 11 November 2015

The Citadel of Ho Dynasty in the central Thanh Hoa Province will be preserved better following a master plan unveiled by the provincial People’s Committee on Monday.

The master plan aims to preserve and embellish the citadel, which has been recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site, and build special tourism facilities based on the area.

Specifically, the master plan will involve survey and assessment of the situation of the site; study of archeological documents and the management work of tourism activities; and defining the space for preservation and development of the surrounding areas.

Full story here.

Excavations at Polonnaruwa to be carried out for the next five years

The world heritage site of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka will be the focus of archaeological excavations for the next five years.

Source: News.lk 20150831
Source: News.lk 20150831

Archaeological excavations in Polonnaruwa under a five year plan
News.lk, 31 August 2015

The historic Polonnaruwa sacred city’s archaeological excavations commenced under a five year plan.
It has been implemented as an international excavation work under the Central Cultural Fund. The Archeological excavations of Polonnaruwa will take place until the year 2020, under the supervision of Professor of Archeology Robin Canham with the aim finding out more information about the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

The excavations were commenced from the ‘number two plot’ of Polonnaruwa Shiva Devalaya.

Full story here.

CNN feature on the Ho Citadel

Inscribed into the World Heritage List in 2011, the Ho Citadel in Vietnam is one of the less-known sites, even in the region.

Ho Citadel. Source: CNN 20150826
Ho Citadel. Source: CNN 20150826

Most unlikely UNESCO site: The empty citadel of Vietnam
CNN.com, 26 August 2015

You might expect a communist government to distance itself from its imperial past, but the Vietnamese regime has seen the value in celebrating the country’s bygone emperors and promoting its ancient citadels as tourist destinations.

Since 1993, eight Vietnamese locations — including three citadels — have been designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, with another seven awaiting formal classification.

Many of these sites are of great natural or historical significance, such as Ha Long Bay and the complex of monuments in Hue.

But the citadel to most recently acquire UNESCO’s seal of approval (in 2011) is the almost unknown Ho Citadel, situated in a remote backwater of Thanh Hoa Province, around 150 kilometers south of Hanoi.

The choice of the Ho Citadel for such a prestigious honor is strange for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the Ho Dynasty lasted just seven years (1400-1407), a mere drop in the ocean of Vietnam’s turbulent history.

Secondly, the citadel is empty.

Full story here.

UK Foreign office declares Preah Vihear safe to visit

It’s been safe to travel to for some time now, of course. The article has a short backgrounder to the recent conflict between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear.

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Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia now safe to visit
The Telegraph, 07 August 2015

A ninth century Angkorian temple on the boarder between Thailand and Cambodia is now considered safe to visit after being the subject of conflict between the two countries since 2008.

Soldiers from the Cambodia army have been guarding the Preah Vihear temple, surrounded in jungle and bearing similarities to Angkor Wat, for the last few years.

The few tourists that made it to the far north of Cambodia to visit the site were required to check in at an army base on arrival.

The temple, declared a World Heritage site in 2008, lies just 100 metres from the border with Thailand, a border that was created at the end of the Second World War.

Full story here.

E7 tower in My Son to reopen to public

After years of restoration, the E7 tower of the My Son Sanctuary in Central Vietnam is ready for visitors.

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My Son tower to re-open
Viet Nam News, 07 Aug 2015

The E7 tower in the My Son Sanctuary in the central province of Quang Nam has reopened to tourists after four years of restoration, according to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The Heritage Preservation Institute of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism restored the tower at a cost of VND9 billion (US$430,000) from the Government budget.

Full story here.

Thailand prepares to defend two World Heritage Sites in danger

Thailand is preparing to defend the World Heritage status of two sites, the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex and Ayutthaya Historical Park. Concerns over the management of these two sites have been raised in previous Unesco meetings and they are expected to be discussed in the Unesco meeting in Paris next week.

Ayutthaya. Source: The Nation 20150623
Ayutthaya. Source: The Nation 20150623

Thailand continues fight to keep two sites’ status
The Nation, 23 June 2015

Thailand is preparing hard to defend the status of two World Heritage sites in the face of ongoing concerns about conservation and management efforts.

These two sites are the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex and the Ayutthaya Historical Park.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has threatened to downgrade the first site’s status as a World Heritage site.

At the last session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar in 2014, the forest complex was identified as facing threats, which could be a reason to downgrade its World Heritage status.

Unesco also has concerns about the repairing of historic sites in Ayutthaya Historical Park after the big flood.

Even though the upcoming World Heritage Committee meeting will not have the forest complex’ status review on the agenda, the Thai delegation believes it needs to show that it will be able to maintain the complex as a World Heritage site.

Full story here.