A feature on sustainable community-based tourism through the example of Banteay Chhmar.
Banteay Chhmar: How Cambodia’s ancient cities are boosting tourism and community development
IBT Times, 24 June 2016
In 2008, Global Heritage Fund began exploratory conservation work at the site and, in partnership with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the APSARA National Authority established a wide-ranging conservation, master plan and community development project at the site.
Part of this has involved the development of the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) to help local people living and working around Banteay Chhmar both acquire a deep understanding of the site and benefit from it economically and socially. Mobilising local people around the protection of endangered monuments is fundamental to GHF’s work and is critical for creating projects, which dually serve social and heritage preservation needs.
There will always be arguments over the impact that tourism has on historic sites and local people with the footfall in places like Angkor resulting in calls for tourist caps, but the CBT approach is entirely focused on sustainability. While private businesses benefiting from tourist hotspots retain their profits, the CBT income from visitors is for the benefit of the villagers and, to date, has seen funds reinvested in initiatives such as waste collection, a children’s library and the opening of a local restaurant.
Full story here.
I think the headline of the article is misleading – after all, archaeologists always need funds and resources, but the key point of the story is that archaeology in Singapore needs to be supported as a government funded agency or a university department, and not through volunteer labour and short term contract jobs as is the case today. This is not only to research the substantial backlog of material that has been unearthed thus far, but also assist in future heritage impact assessments and archaeological surveys.
As an Singaporean archaeologist (who is not working in Singapore) I can understand the pressures faced by my colleagues. Most archaeological work has been done by volunteers, who have done a great job in helping with excavations and sorting of material. However, other essential work such as the analysis of finds, organisation of collections and dissemination of research require more specialised expertise and resources, and such capacity is not available. This call for a professionalised archaeological unit is not new, but is as yet unresolved.
Singapore archaeologists Lim Chen Sian and John Miksic. Source: Straits Times 20150727
Archaeologists in need of funds and resources
The Straits Times, 27 July 2015
Singapore’s two archaeologists, dogged for years by lack of interest in the field and scant resources, are hoping the Government will pump “several million dollars” into the discipline, to pay for more staff and activities over the next 50 years.
Mr Lim Chen Sian, who led a recent Empress Place dig which yielded artefacts such as centuries-old Chinese imperial grade ceramics, is also creating a registry of archaeological sites so people can be alerted to their historical value before the wrecking balls descend.
The authorities are also keen for archaeology to play a bigger role in piecing together Singapore’s past.
Full story here.
A story on how the Global Heritage Fund is using a satellite network to help monitor heritage sites in Myanmar to create sustainable tourism and long-term returns for local communities.
Protecting Burma’s Heritage from Above
The Irrawady, 14 April 2012
I’ve featured a number of number of similar stories like this on the increasing numbers of tourists visiting Angkor. It’s interesting to note that five years ago, the annual number of visitors was like 600,000. This year’s count is expected to be 2.5 million.
Cambodia’s ancient wonders suffer modern ills
AP, via Forbes.com, 12 July 2011
In this the fifteenth year since the Vietnamese city of Hue was inscribed as a World Heritage City, Unesco’s representative to Vietnam has noted how concerted efforts from local authorities have turned a state of heritage endangerment to proper sustainability.
Hue revival leads to sustainability [Link no longer active]
Viet Nam News, 12 December 2008