SONGKHLA: The provincial administrative organisation (PAO) and civil society of this southern region are pressing ahead with a plan to include Songkhla's old town in the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.
PAO chairman Paijen Maksuwan told a joint meeting of local officials and civic groups on Thursday that a consultant has been hired to draft a development and management plan for the old town, ensuring it is in line with Unesco's guidelines for world heritage sites.
According to Mr Paijen, Songkhla serves as a regional trading hub rich with arts and culture that have been passed down for more than two centuries. Songkhla's wealth of cultural heritage makes it one of the two southern provinces that are recognised as national heritage sites.
He said the development and management plan would support the province's efforts to preserve the old town, which is a popular tourist destination, for learning purposes and sustainable development.
Phoppon Thongkhanarak, director of the PAO's city planning division, said the consultant's tasks include determining the outstanding values of the old town and setting criteria for the evaluation of the province's potential in terms of development and management.
She said the PAO will gather information about other historical sites in the province and work with experts in various fields to determine their potential to be recognised as world heritage sites.
Earlier, two committees working on pushing Songkhla as a world heritage site submitted a draft document dubbed "Songkhla and related communities along Songkhla Lake" to the provincial governor for submission to the Fine Arts Department.
The draft document lists four sites in the province proposed for inclusion in the tentative list. They are Phangyang, Phakho and Siyang historical communities; Sathing Phra historical community; the old fortress at Khao Daeng and Laem Son; and Songkhla's old town.
Currently, the country has four cultural World Heritage Sites and three natural World Heritage sites, with an additional six cultural and natural sites listed on the Unesco Tentative List such as Phuphrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani, Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom.