Cultural Heritage Specialist Guides for the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns World Heritage Site (2014-15)
UNESCO and the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) are now collaborating to launch a project to train local heritage guides in the World Heritage Site of the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns in Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet. This project aims to strengthen local livelihoods and community development by producing local tour guides with enhanced skills who will be able to enhance the visitor experience at the heritage site.
About the World Heritage Specialist Guides Programme
As our legacy from the past, our cultural and natural heritages are both irreplaceable sources of vitality and inspiration. Representing universal values, World Heritage properties range from breathtaking natural landscapes and living historic towns, to works of engineering genius and stunning architectural monuments. The rapid growth of tourism to these sites provides abundant opportunity for accelerated economic growth, cross-cultural learning and long-term community benefits. As a foundation of this prosperity, their protection has to be of paramount importance.
Sustainable tourism calls for a new type of responsible and informed tourist, and guides, as a bridge between the visitor and the site, can play a pivotal role in facilitating this. In 2005, to help balance the benefits of development, while assisting in site safeguarding, UNESCO in conjunction with the Asian Academy for Heritage Management (AAHM) launched the Cultural Heritage Specialist Guide (CHSG) Programme. The programme aims to not only strengthen the guiding skills of participants, so to enhance the visitor experience, but also educate tourists about conservation issues and codes of responsible conduct. Since then, this pioneering programme has been implemented through an active collaboration between Ministries of Tourism, training institutions, national tourism organizations and UNESCO regional offices across Asia.
The CHSG is intended as a framework that can be adapted to meet the needs of different countries and supplement existing national guide certification schemes. Conceived in Thailand, the programme has been successfully adopted as far afield as India, Malaysia, Lao PDR and Indonesia.
Widely recognized for its effectiveness, during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee in 2007, the guide programme was lauded as “a best practice example of an initiative aiming at integrating the conservation of World Heritage within the wider sustainable development framework for the benefit of local communities”. Further to this, in the same year, the programme was also presented with a Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)’s Gold Award for its achievement in “Education and Training”. PATA winners are selected for their exceptional achievements in a variety of endeavours relating to Asia Pacific’s travel industry, setting industry standards for excellence and innovation and serving as examples for others to follow.
In 2011, the programme was selected for use as an illustrative example in the upcoming World Tourism Organisation publication "Communicating Heritage - A Handbook for the Tourism Sector" which is planned to be released shortly.
To read more about the PATA Awards 2007, please visit www.pata.org