MoU promotes cross-border trips

MoU promotes cross-border trips

Knowledge exchange with Cambodia's Apsara body

Thailand's Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Cambodia's Apsara Authority to exchange knowledge and expertise about community-based tourism and World Heritage Site management.

Sok Sangvar (left) shakes hands with Nalikatibhag Sangsnit at yesterday's signing ceremony for the agreement on community tourism and world heritage site management.

Dasta, which is keen on community-based tourism, will provide intensive training and local tourism management to Apsara. In turn, Apsara, which has managed Angkor Wat for more than two decades, will offer Thailand expertise and management skills, specifically for World Heritage areas.

The collaboration aims to promote more cross-border tourism among World Heritage sites in the two countries and neighbouring areas in the future.

Nalikatibhag Sangsnit, director-general of Dasta, said the agency is bringing an Apsara team to Sukhothai Historical Park this week to learn about the tourism situation at one of five World Heritage sites in Thailand.

Sukhothai has become a popular destination among international visitors, similar to Angkor Wat, he said.

"Dasta has been developing and promoting Sukhothai as one of our specially designed community-based destinations," he said. "It is ready to share and exchange experience with other sites."

In order to strengthen heritage tourism, Dasta is scheduled to organise the first Asean World Heritage Summit in Sukhothai province in August this year. The event is expected to attract more than 100 specialists working at heritage sites from Southeast Asia.

"This will be the first time for Thailand to host the summit created specifically to focus on World Heritage tourism," Mr Nalikatibhag said. "Asean nations hope this event will bring more collaboration at regional scale."

Sok Sangvar, deputy director-general of Apsara, said tourism is a main contributor of income to people in the Angkor area.

Angkor spans 40 square kilometres and consists of 113 villages with a population of 130,000. Some 300 people work in the tourism sector, including hotels, travel companies and services.

"Our expertise is knowing how to help people living near the site understand tourism, and we hope to share this experience with Thailand," Sok Sangvar said. "At the same time, we will learn from the successes of the tourism industry in Thailand."

He said Cambodia is working hard to promote tourism. Each year, tourism authorities and the private sector attend 25 international tourism trade fairs overseas. Additionally, the government is building second airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Construction of both airports is expected to be complete in the next 5-6 years.

Earlier, Dasta signed an MoU with Unesco to help train local guides living near Sukhothai Historical Park. Dasta also inked an agreement with the UN World Tourism Organisation to strengthen sustainable tourism.

In addition, Laos's tourism authorities signed an agreement with Dasta to promote cross-border tourism linking Luang Prabang, Xayaburi and Vientiane in Laos with Loei and Nong Khai province in Thailand. Thailand and Laos will soon announce further border collaboration along the Mekong River.

Dasta has also begun to work with Bhutan to improve community benefits through tourism. Dasta and the Philippines are formulating criteria and guidelines for community tourism development in Southeast Asia.

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