An international conference entitled "World Heritage and Sustainable Development in the Contemporary Context" was held yesterday at Mường Thanh Luxury Hotel, Hạ Long City in the northern province of Quảng Ninh.
Tourism challenges: Delegates pose for a photo at the conference. – Photos baoquangninh.com.vn
The conference was co-organised by the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
It aimed to consider practical situations and provide recommendations on promoting the protection and enhancing World Heritage sites through sustainable development.
The conference attracted over 100 delegates, including policy makers, heritage administrators, scholars and businessmen in Việt Nam, as well as experts from UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In the context of Việt Nam becoming an emerging economy, policy makers and heritage administrators are facing new opportunities and challenges, among them were new factors like the appearance and participation of entrepreneurs at heritage sites.
This is the right moment to examine the opinions and evaluations of scholars and experts on the actual state of heritage sites as Việt Nam joins the 2030 agenda of the United Nations’ sustainable development, in order to have full knowledge on the contributions of world heritage sites in Việt Nam, as well as referencing nations in the region with this goal, including the realisation of the fast development of tourism and the role of regional entrepreneurs.
Speaking at the conference, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Đặng Thị Bích Liên said, “Việt Nam has been a member of the Convention on Protecting World Cultural and Natural Heritages since 1987. Up until now, among more than 3,500 historical and cultural sites, Việt Nam has chosen a number of special heritages to submit to UNESCO as world heritage sites.
"Along with great achievements attained so far, the administration, preservation and promotion of the values of world heritages in Việt Nam is confronting challenges, especially balancing solutions over relations between preservation and development."
Hạ Long Bay in the northern province of Quảng Ninh. VNA/VNS Photo Trung Nguyên
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) confirms that cultural and natural heritages serves to increase tourism.
Therefore, this international conference includes key topics relating to enhancing legal framework to protect heritage and sustainable development, links with the community, public and private co-operation at world heritage sites, as long as the result of research experts collected at various heritage forums serve as a lesson for nations to apply in preservation and development.
Michael Croft, head of UNESCO in Việt Nam, said tourism is becoming more important to Việt Nam.
“Not only to Việt Nam, but we can consider tourism a trend in South East Asia, the second fastest growing tourism market in the world. For sustainable development, this context brings us many promising opportunities and big challenges. We hope this conference will be expanded further to find solutions in the preservation and administration of heritage sites,” Croft said
Jake Brunner, head of the Indochina and Myanmar countries group of IUCN, said pollution is the top challenge for tourism development in Hạ Long Bay,
“In 2015, an analyst sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Asian Management and Development Institute (AMDI) showed not only that tourism boats discharge untreated waste water into the Bay, boats equipped with treatment systems rarely use them. Controlling such boats presents a challenge. We have asked city authorities to build a waste water system to solve this problem for 500 boats in the Bay,” he said.
Phạm Đình Huỳnh, deputy head of Hạ Long Bay administration board, said in recent meetings that the preservation of the bay meets some difficulties in protecting the local ecosystem.
“To correctly evaluate the preservation status of Hạ Long Bay, we have asked the supervision group from IUCN to come to the bay. After the visit, they highly appreciated the work of management and preservation of the bay,” Huynh adds.
To conclude the conference, Phạm Thị Thanh Hưong, representative of UNESCO office in Ha Noi, said currently the body has created a project to assist the local community living in the craft villages, surrounding the administrative border of Hội An city.
“We train local people to be tour guides, teaching them how to communicate in English with foreign tourists. This is how we handle the situation in developing tourism, and introduce our heritage in a spiritual way rather than an economical way, and creating a host community in the relationship linking the guest community", she said.
”I am also asked many times how can we preserve the environment while still increasing tourist numbers each day. I think if we do not do something for the community, they will soon be affected by urbanisation. It is inevitable, so the best we can do is work to leave no one behind,” she added. ― VNS