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The clan jetties have been overwhelmed by tourists since receiving Unesco world heritage status. Photograph: gracethang/Getty Images

 

The gambling-ridden clan jetties of Malaysia’s George Town were saved from ruin by the award of Unesco world heritage status, but their new fame left locals overwhelmed by a tide of invasive tourism. Can we ever get the balance right?

Chew Jetty in Malaysia’s George Town attracts tourists by the boatload. Historic homes are now commercial stalls branded with neon signs; one-time fishermen peddle T-shirts, magnets and postcards. Tour buses deposit vacationers from early in the morning until well after sunset.

 

The daily intrusion has clearly taken a toll: windows are boarded, “no photo” signs are pervasive, and tenants quickly vanish at the sight of a foreign face.

 

“I would like to remind people that we are not monkeys, and this is not a zoo,” says Lee Kah Lei, who runs a souvenir stall outside her home on the Chew Jetty.

 

Read the full article about the struggle to strike the balance between the economic benefits of catering to visitors and preserving the culture that drew the recognition.

 

By Laignee Barron for The Guardian.

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

This year is the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Taleb Rifai declared it gave:

… a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.

Sustainable tourism comes from the concept of sustainable development, as set out in the 1987 Brundtland report. Sustainable development is:

… development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

British environmental activist George Monbiot argued that, over the years, sustainable development has morphed into sustained growth. The essence of his argument is that little resolve exists to go beyond rhetoric. This is because environmental crises require we limit the demands we place on it, but our economies require endless growth.

At the moment, economic growth trumps environmental limits, so sustainability remains elusive.

 

Read the full article here. Written by Freya Higgins-Desbiolles for The Conversation. 

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Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)

 

Songkran is the Thai New Year festival celebrated from 13 – 15 April. It is one of the country’s most important public holidays. Songkran is a Buddhist festival also celebrated in many other parts of Asia including Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and parts of China. Each country has its own unique rituals and celebrations.

Water holds considerable significance during Songkran. It is a vital part of the celebrations as it is used for the ritual cleansing. However, this ritual expands inevitably into a giant fiesta of water splashing. If you visit these countries during this New Year period, be prepared to get very wet!

Songkran is a joyous time and an important festival for all Buddhists but it is important to act responsibly and conserve water – our most precious natural asset.

Here are some thoughts to consider when celebrating Songkran this week-end:

 

  1. Celebrate in traditional style

Celebrate Songkran traditionally by sprinkling a small amount of water over the hands of elders to receive a blessing for the upcoming year. This is a gentle and very meaningful gesture in Buddhist society.

 

  1. Use spray bottles – not water guns

It may be tempting and probably a must to take part in a water fight but you should consider using spray bottles as an alternative to the water guns.

 

  1. Visit a temple

Many temples offer Songkran activities and traditional shows where you may learn about the core concept of the water festivals in the company of local residents and fellow visitors.

 

Check South East Asia’s best temples here.

Songkran is a wonderful opportunity for mingling with locals and making new friends. Take time to consider how best to celebrate this year’s amazing Songkran Festival whilst remaining ever mindful of the need to conserve water.

 

Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)

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Travelling breaks down barriers and promotes diversity. Travel is about shared experiences and building friendships. It is a great way to learn understanding for different customs.

If we teach our children how to make the right travel choices, it can not only benefit them, but it will also make the world a better place.

 

Here are some ways to travel more responsibly with your children:

 

  1. Choose sustainable transport

Explain to children how biking, walking or using public transport is much better for the planet and then choose one of those modes of transport every day during your holiday. Understanding the impact of your carbon footprint will help children to grow into more responsible travellers. Read more on green transportation here.

 

  1. Choose responsible destinations

Make time to plan your trip together with your children – research each destination’s commitment to the protection of people, animals, sites of important historic interests and, of course, the environment. Participating in this process enables younger travellers to learn about the importance of sustainable and responsible travel. Read about top destinations that enforce sustainable tourism here.

 

  1. Get off the beaten path

Choose places where you may connect with locals and learn about their traditions. Building closer connections with a place is much more enjoyable and inspiring for you and your children. Consider asking your tour operator about participating in a community based tour or a local handcraft activity.

 

  1. Encounter wildlife with respect

Teach your children a few basic rules and lead by example: use a quiet voice, do not touch, feed or get too close to wildlife and always obey the rules and instructions.

 

Showing children how to travel responsibly now will shape them into empathic and compassionate travellers and more learned members of society. And by travelling with them as responsible adults it’s a fascinating learning experience for the entire family.

Read more on sustainable travel with children here.

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#TravelEnjoyRespect

The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

 

To that end, please explore the official IY2017 website at www.tourism4development2017.org, which is their primary tool for coordinating the worldwide celebrations of the year, and on which more than 200 events and activities have already been registered. The UNWTO kindly invites you to upload your IY2017-related initiatives, as well as to share your best practices, stories and/or knowledge. Your initiatives will be visible on the website’s calendar and global map, and you will be able to use the IY2017 logo in all your communications. Kindly note that all the information they receive will be included in their final report to the UN General Assembly in 2018.

Furthermore, UNWTO is organizing a series of events and activities, the details of which you can find in the attached document. For instance, they are running a consumer-oriented awareness-raising campaign “Travel.Enjoy.Respect.” with six useful tips for responsible travel, and would very much like you to help disseminate it as broadly as possible. In addition, UNWTO is organizing 14 IY2017 Official Events, as well as producing two flagship reports related to the themes and objectives of the IY2017, for which your support and input would be more than welcome and on which more info will follow shortly. As part of their awareness-raising activities, they have also initiated a Special Ambassadors programme, currently comprising seven high-profile individuals who will help spread the relevant messages regarding tourism as an agent for positive change.

Read more: PATA Sustainability & IY2017 Initiatives

 

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UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards

Call for Entries: 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation

20 FEBRUARY, 2017, BANGKOK,– Submissions are now being accepted for the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The Awards recognize the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully restored or conserved structures, places and properties of heritage value in the region. The Awards emphasize the importance of the conservation process, including the technical achievements and quality of the restoration, as well as its social impact, including community involvement in the project. By UNESCO Bangkok. To find out more please click here.

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tourists

Chinese tourists, in particular, face harsh criticism in Hong Kong.

There appears to be increasing tension between tourists and residents around the world, with the former often blamed for behaving inappropriately and disturbing locals. Protests against tourist behaviour have erupted in Barcelona, Venice and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, tourists are blamed for being noisy, inconsiderate, urinating in public, buying up necessities such as baby milk powder, and generally not following local customs. Chinese tourists, in particular, face harsh criticism in Hong Kong as well as in Thailand.

By  and . Read more.

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Honourable Mention Community Based Tourism Initiative

Ban Rai Gong KingBan Rai Gong King Village is a small community in Chiangmai Province, a popular tourist destination in the northern part of Thailand. The community is situated next to Chiangmai Night Safari, so the main occupation of the villagers are vegetable plantation to sell as animal food in the zoo. During the economic crisis in the year 1997, many villagers who worked in the city moved back to Ban Rai Gong King Village to be with family and to think about what to do next. Many villagers lost their jobs and income. To help solving the economic problem of villagers, the village headman set up the ‘Ban Rai Gong King Development Fund’ which started with 3,000 Baht (approximately USD100). The initial money was used to set up a Bulk Purchasing Business where villagers can sign up for their commodity needs and the village headman will go to buy the products in bulk to get the wholesale price and save money for all. The profit from this business goes to the Development Fund which is used for community welfare from the birth to the death.

With the rich cultural resource and strong community welfare system, Ban Rai Gong King Village thought about using tourism as a development tool to improve the livelihood of villagers. With the support from various organizations, Ban Rai Gong King Community-based Tourism Club is formed with the objectives of the following:
1. To use tourism as a tool for developing sustainable livelihood of the villagers.
2. To revive the local culture and wisdom for next generation.
3. To improve the community welfare.
4. To promote healthy lifestyle for all.

The operation of Ban Rai Gong King Community-based Tourism Club is fruitful because of villagers’ participation in every process of development. That is why in the year 2015, Ban Rai Gong King Community based Tourism club earned a Thailand Tourism Awards in the category for ‘Best Community-based Tourism’.

Best Marine and Wildlife Tourism Provider – 2015 InSPIRE Awards

siddhalepaHealth Resort is nestled amidst tropical gardens along the picturesque coastal belt of Wadduwa Sri Lanka. Offering a unique combination of health, luxury and relaxation, this serene resort is part of the renowned Hettigoda Group – the creators of one of Sri Lanka’s much loved brands ‘Siddhalepa’.

Facing the sparkling blue Indian Ocean and secluded amidst tropical gardens, the resort combines contemporary luxury with age old traditions – not just in the healing therapies offered, but also in the architecture and the ambience. Set amidst an extensive tropical garden covering over 7 acres of Ayurvedic medicinal plants and trees it is a natural haven of beauty and a healing sanctuary of serenity and peace. Especially prepared dishes based on the Ayurvedic physician’s recommendation are served to guests who are undergoing treatment. While the focus is on authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, guests also have a choice of Chinese, Indian or Western food and the stylish speciality restaurant with beautiful views of the ocean offers an A La Carte menu.

The Ayurvedic spa at Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort been recently revamped to have a completely new theme emulating Sri Lankan heritage, and many novel facilities such as individual water features are added to treatment rooms. Innovative treatments including a sea water Jacuzzi is included to the existing spa treatment menu. The spa specialises in providing a range of traditional Ayurvedic treatments that cleanse, detoxify and rejuvenate, using 100% natural resources under the supervision of experienced Ayurveda physicians. All treatments and therapies are based on ancient Ayurveda methods handed down over generations and the parent company, Hettigoda Industries manufacture all the products used – with 100% natural ingredients, mostly grown at own plantations. With their own training centre, even the doctors and therapists are trained by Siddhalepa guaranteeing the exceptional standards of quality offered to guests. From its inception, the resort has been dedicated to being environmentally conscious right from the architectural design to their day to day operations and the recent renovations also ensure further introductions of eco-friendly means and methods. The hotel’s green practices come under three categories: Energy Conservation, Water management and waste management.

 

For more information: Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort Resorts website

‘post-tourist’

In the last decade, the tourism industry has been overtaken by a new kind of tourist: one who avoids popular sites and abandons their maps. Welcome to the age of the “post-tourist”. Siobhan Lyons Read more.