Striving toward Sustainable Tourism at the World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia
In the framework of the project entitled “The Power of Culture: Supporting Community-Based Management and Sustainable Tourism at World Heritage Sites in Malaysia and Southeast Asia” made possible thanks to support from the Government of Malaysia via the Malaysia Funds-in-Trust (MFIT) under the Malaysia-UNESCO Cooperation Programme (MUCP), UNESCO is spearheading a new approach to sustainable tourism management at World Heritage properties in South-East Asia (SEA).
Partnering with the local government, a series of capacity building workshops are underway in three pilot sites across the region: “Melaka and George Town, the Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca” in Malaysia, “The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras” in the Philippines, and “The Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as the Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy” in Indonesia. Upon successful implementation of the programme, these three pilot sites will be used as case studies and good practice models for other sites in South-East Asia region.
This project represents the first regional effort in SEA for implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism (WH+ST) Programme. A sustainable tourism toolkit which was developed by UNESCO World Heritage Centre is being tested through this process. The toolkit aims to help a World Heritage site develop a sustainable tourism strategy in order to enhance broad stakeholder engagement in planning, developing, managing sustainable tourism, and providing World Heritage stakeholders with the capacity and resources to manage tourism efficiently, responsibly, and sustainably based on the local community context and needs.
The first initiation workshop took place in Bali from 21 to 23 October 2015. UNESCO partnered with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture to organize the workshop attended by 35 participants from the Cultural and Tourism Offices in Bali Province and its five regencies, academics from universities in Bali, Ministry of Tourism, the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, and the Ministry of Education and Culture. A harmonized vision statement for tourism, strategic objectives, and identified outcomes and actions, from the workshop will form the basis of a consultative process lead by the Ministry of Education and Culture and Ministry of Tourism following the workshop.
The Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) of Ifugao and the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO were the main partners in hosting the next site-specific initiation workshop which took place in Banaue, Philippines from 26 to 28 October 2015., The tourism strategy developed through this process will provide the strategic framework and reflect UNESCO’s policy for a Sustainable Tourism Master Plan which is currently under development for the Ifugao province.
The third initiation workshop was held for the World Heritage property “Melaka and George Town, the Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca” (Melaka, 23 to 25 November 2015). UNESCO partnered with Melaka World Heritage Office who hosted the workshop. Stakeholders and other partners from both Melaka and George Town/State of Pulau Pinang participated in the workshop. Building upon the available Conservation Management Plan for both Melaka and George Town, the sustainable tourism strategy identified through this process will serve as the foundation to develop a Tourism Management Plan for both destinations.
Upon the successful completion of the initiation workshops, a series of specialization workshops will follow and be held in February/March 2016. The final assessment workshops are scheduled for May 2016.