The 1st ASEAN World Heritage Summit was initiated by DASTA with supports from all key players in the field; these include UNESCO, ASEAN representatives, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mekong Coordinating Office, Bangkok Airways, PATA (Thailand Chapter), Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).
The summit was held on 2-4 August 2018 in the magnificent DASTA’s designated areas which has been listed UNESCO World Heritage site, Sukhothai, Thailand. Over 100 stakeholders and ASEAN professionals (in the field of heritage management, culture, art and tourism) shared their best practices and together discussed ways to create sense of ownerships among local communities and the mechanisms to engage young generation to preserve the “Outstanding Universal Value”.
DASTA, UNESCO, ASEAN representatives and all key actors concurred at this joint summit that the topics should be further explored. A regular dialogue should be created which will enable the two cross-sectors from cultural and heritage management and tourism to discuss how to strengthen the protection of ASEAN World Heritage sites and how to mitigate the impacts from tourism growth in the areas. During the summit, there were over 200 young Thai performing arts, creating a living culture through their performance. Heritage was also carefully interpreted through the art of food. Gastronomy experiences were designed by local artisan chef (Blackitch).
Dr. Nalikatibhag Sangsnit, DASTA’s Director-General said, “only way we could protect our heritage is to engage local communities and young generation to envision their own future because the cultural assets belong to them”.
As a result of the summit, the participants made the following recommendations:
We should promote an understanding about power of living culture and heritage and enhance creativities for responsible tourism. Mr. Phloeun Prim, Executive Director, Cambodian Living Arts, shared success stories from Cambodian Living Arts. “We envision the arts and cultural expression as essential to a thriving future. Cambodian Living Arts’ mission is to be a catalyst in a vibrant arts sector, inspiring new generations”
Bangkok Airways was able to identify potential thematic route for better connectivity of ASEAN World Heritage Sites. Mr. Lim Kooi Fong, through his extensive research for UNWTO on Buddhist Tourism noted How Buddhist tourism can play a niche role in remedying some issues faced by some countries in their development of tourism. The APSARA National Authority from Cambodia highlighted the challenging issues in sustainability of the Iconic Angkor Wat. Prof Phuong-Dung Ngo and Prof Nguyen Duc Hoa Cuong, Faculty of Management and Tourism, Hanoi University (Vietnam) also shared case example on Eco-label for tourist boats operating in Halong Bay.
The conclusion of the summit was captured in the 5 E concept for ways forward:
- Empower communities for inclusiveness in managing the sites
- Enhance creativities for responsible tourism in the World heritage sites
- Embrace measure to manage
- Employ the balancing act between development and protection
- Engage multi-stakeholders to uphold tangible and intangible heritage
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