New management training for World Heritage and designated areas for sustainable tourism

New management training for World Heritage and designated areas for sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is crucial for the long-term health of Thailand’s economy and society. UNESCO Bangkok, with support from World Heritage Centre and Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA), has organized a three-day online workshop to introduce the Visitor Management Assessment Tool (VMAT) designed by UNESCO World Heritage Centre for World Heritage Sites, Tentative List Sites as well as for natural and cultural heritage sites of national and local significance.

The VMAT is a new addition to the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit. It has been developed within the context of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention to help site authorities manage visitation and tourism for the protection of heritage values while contributing to sustainable development.

DASTA, whose responsibilities cover various heritage travel districts and cities in Thailand, including those in Sukhothai, Nan, Loei, Chiang Mai, Suphanburi and Southern Thai archipelagos, hosted this initial capacity-building workshop with UNESCO. It has also advocated for the adoption of VMAT in other countries in ASEAN and APEC through more workshops and conferences in coming years.

Management professionals can use VMAT to assess how they achieve the most essential governance and visitor management indicators and how their efforts contribute towards sustainability and development. VMAT can also be used to develop a visitor management strategy.

The intention of VMAT is to recognize the many different efforts that can be considered good visitor management. Professionals can create a visitor management baseline and assess progress over time and, most importantly, recognize the significance and contribution of different human resources in an organization.

Apart from DASTA tourism professionals, present at the online workshop were more than 65 representatives from heritage management authorities, including the Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, and the Planning of Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

The participants explored the use of VMAT developed by UNESCO at seven Thai sites: Nan Tentative List Site, Loei, Ban Chiang Archaeological Site World Heritage Site, Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns World Heritage Site, Historic City of Ayutthaya World Heritage Site, and natural sites Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex World Heritage Site and Kaeng Krachan National Park Tentative List Site.

The participants’ initial feedbacks on the use of VMAT during a practical exercise facilitated by UNESCO experts indicated that the assessment tool is user-friendly, providing self-explanatory directions and referencing UNESCO’s global-level management-oriented guidelines.

Site managers who are keen to explore the VMAT can request to UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme to open site accounts through Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok (culture.bgk@unesco.org).

For more information, please visit https://whc.unesco.org/en/tourism