Experts unlock the key to sustainable heritage in the creative city of Sukhothai

Experts unlock the key to sustainable heritage in the creative city of Sukhothai

“Sukhothai 2020 Roundtable on Tourism, Heritage and Creative City,” a seminar on tourism and cultural heritage presented led by city experts was held at the Sukhothai Treasure Resort & Spa, Sukhothai Province, on 21-23 September 2020.

Presiding at the opening ceremony, H.E. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, stated: “Sukhothai is a major destinations for both Thai and foreign tourists due to the attractions of its regal history. These include Sukhothai Historical Park, declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site, Si Satchanalai Historical Park and Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park. The local lifestyle, with all its arts and crafts, is also an attraction to visitors. Highlights here include Teen Jok cloth, chinaware, stucco art, woodwork, goldware, and silverware. Each craft has unique characteristics and is treasured. Moreover, Sukhothai is part of a creative city network of craft and folk art centres and, as such, it is acquiring a reputation as a world-class destination that is attracting more and more international tourists.”

Data from the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, suggests that Sukhothai welcomed over 1.5 million visitors in 2019, 75 percent of which were Thai and 25 percent foreigners. This brought over 3.9 billion baht into the area. However, the global CODIV-19 pandemic forced the World Heritage sites to close and tourists stopped coming to Sukhothai. As the situation began to be resolved, Sukhothai Province implemented new practices in accordance to the Ministry of Public Health regulations and Safety and Health Administration (SHA) guidelines issued by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and regained confidence among tourists.

“We believe that the seminar will lead to new ways of developing quality tourist attractions and increasing the competitiveness of tourism personnel,” the Minister said. “It will also prepare the local community to accommodate tourists in the future in ways that are sustainable and appropriate in the new normal circumstances.”

Dr. Chuwit Mitrchob, Acting Director-General, Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organisation) (DASTA), added that: “The seminar’s objective is to exchange knowledge and create cooperation in the management of world heritage sites and cultural tourism. DASTA has coordinated with the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) to gather over 20 national and international experts to share their knowledge on developing sustainable tourism in Sukhothai and nearby provinces such as Kamphaeng Phet. The main topics covered World Heritage sites and creative cities along with new normal tourism industry trends. We also considered what a 30-year outlook for the World Heritage site in Sukhothai would look like, along with city planning for tourism, driving intangible cultural heritage to creative city status, and the future of sustainable tourism in Sukhothai.”

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines sustainable tourism as ‘tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.’ DASTA hopes that the seminar will give participants new insights and illustrate how World Heritage and Creative City status for Sukhothai can bring sustainable benefits to the local people.

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