via Time, 28 September 2023 and other sources: The concerns over the management of the newly-inscribed Si Thep site seems to be gaining international coverage, with Time magazine covering the surge in tourism that has both locals and experts concerned. The site has seen an influx of about 20,000 visitors in just one weekend, leading to issues like overcrowding, potential damage to ancient structures, and inadequate infrastructure.
The area lacks adequate infrastructure—from waste management to parking spaces—to accommodate large numbers of tourists, Phacharaphorn Phanomvan, a heritage development scholar at Chulalongkorn University and an advisor to a cultural council on Si Thep, said at a press conference in Bangkok last week. She added that the UNESCO listing, which will drive up the value of Si Thep’s artifacts on the black market, may also encourage theft from the park, which “was already one of the most looted sites in Thailand in the 1970s and 1980s.”
Questions are also being raised about what conservation efforts could mean for the local community. Phacharaphorn wrote in an op-ed on Thursday that some villagers in Si Thep who are caught in unresolved land disputes with the state may lose their homes as a result of the government’s land reclamation plan; others could have their livelihoods threatened by potential bans on livestock farming, a traditional practice in the region, in the name of protecting the site. (Residents have already stopped growing crops upon instructions from authorities, she noted).