via Nikkei Asia, 22 October 2023: Thailand’s Si Thep Historical Park, located in the northern province of Phetchabun, recently gained UNESCO World Heritage status. While this recognition has significantly boosted tourism and aided the pandemic-hit economy, it has also raised concerns about conservation and artifact theft. In just one month after the UNESCO recognition, the park saw nearly a fourfold increase in visitors.
Most of the visitors so far are locals. But the park is expected to draw a wave of international guests, particularly those who have already toured the other UNESCO sites in Thailand, such as the historic city of Ayutthaya and the historic town of Sukhothai.
Si Thep lacks proper infrastructure and measures to handle a surge in tourists, from trash cans to parking spaces, according to local authorities. Some sections of the park had to be closed off after visitors were climbing on the ruins.
Increased attention also raises the risk that artifacts will be robbed, local media has reported, quoting an expert. “Maintaining a World Heritage site is more difficult than getting designation as such,” a central government official said, emphasizing the need to work with local governments and community members in taking action.