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Land of Frankincense

Land of Frankincense, proposed by Oman as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: building capacity, regional tourism management, creation of new job opportunities, development at social and academic level, international advisory board and an increased sense of identity for local population.

Summary provided by State Party

The best practice for the communication of cultural heritage, and here especially an archaeological site, is an archaeological park. Parks have been established within the property and the amounts of more than 100.000 visitors per year prove the success of the model. In addition over 40 young people could be employed. The parks were dynamically developed which means that they will be never ‘finished’. Careful excavation is part of the visitor’s program, helping him to understand how such a park is developing and also how complicated archaeology (and conservation) can be. The parks combine a mixture of health walk landscape beauty, archaeology and cultural information according to the Latin saying ‘docet et delectat’ it teaches and enjoys. At the same time, young experts are educated and trained to run the projects.

The ‘archaeological park’ is an optimum tool to control and guide tourism and to protect the OUV of a World Heritage Site. With the vision of several archaeological parks new job perspectives are given to those who study in the field of cultural management, archaeology and conservation. Therefore this model should be repeated not only in Oman but also in other areas of the world.

One-off Initiative for the recognition of best practices

The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2011, responds to the identified needs of a diverse and growing audience for capacity building for World Heritage conservation and management activities. Development of resource materials such as best practice case studies and communication tools are among the activities foreseen by the strategy to improve these capacities.

An example of an innovative capacity building initiative is the recently concluded Recognition of Best Practice in World Heritage Management. This initiative, requested by the World Heritage Committee and carried out within the framework of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012, solicited applications from World Heritage properties which had demonstrated new and creative ways of managing their sites. Twenty-three submissions were received and evaluated by a 10-member international selection committee which included the representatives of the Convention’s Advisory Bodies, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN. The Historic Town of Vigan in the Philippines was chosen as a best practice achieved with relatively limited resources, a good integration of the local community in many aspects of the sustainable conservation and management of the property and with an interesting multi-faceted approach to the protection of the site.

Management practices recognized as being successful and sustainable can include everything from involving local people in site management, to creating innovative policies and regulating tourism. There are sites that include students from local schools in the management of the site (Slovenia), train local inhabitants as tour guides (Peru), or even put up nylon fences to protect villagers from straying tigers from the Sundarbans National Park (India). Sharing these practices helps other sites find solutions that work.

This initiative provides incentives for States Parties and site managers to reflect on their management practices and explore improvement possibilities.