Visitors to Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet will now be able to click onto a new website to get information about historic monuments, nearby attractions and visitor facilities at this World Heritage site.
The official launch took place on 27 March 2008 from 9-10 am at the 5th floor conference room of the UNESCO Bangkok office on Sukhumvit Road chaired by the Inspector General of the Ministry of Culture, on behalf of the Minister of Culture.
The site of Sukhothai and Associated Towns was inscribed onto the World Heritage List in 1991 and is one of Thailand's five World Heritage sites. Few, however, realize that the boundary of the site encompasses not only Sukhothai, but also Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet.
Tourism statistics to the site reflect this perception, with over 457,000 visitors recorded at Sukhothai between October 2005-September 2006, while Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet received barely a third of this level of visitation. The average visit is short - between one hour and three hours - and few visitors are motivated to visit more than one historic park, due to the misconception that the three parks offer repetitive experiences.
In response, UNESCO and the Thai Fine Arts Department have developed a strategy to reinvigorate interest in the three sites by presenting them as a unified visitor destination which will keep visitors in the area for longer periods of time, which will also have the benefit of creating local economic development. The website is part of a project undertaken since 2006.
Itineraries linking the three parks have been created to highlight each park's interrelationship and, at the same time, its uniqueness. Visitors can access maps showing suggested visitor trails inside each park. Catering to different groups, there is a choice of a one-hour short tour, a half-day visit and a full day experience. Visitors to Kamphaeng Phet also have the option of a suggested night tour.
With funding from the International Safeguarding Campaign for Sukhothai, the materials have been developed by the Asian Center for Tourism Planning and Poverty Reduction (ACTPPR), working in close cooperation with archaeologists and tourism officials.
UNESCO plans to adapt this interpretation approach at other historic cultural landscapes in the Asia-Pacific region that often face similar challenges in conveying a holistic understanding of the site.