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2013 ICTC Annual Meeting and Study Tour in Sukhothai, Thailand

Living Heritage: Creative Tourism and Sustainable Communities: Education, Interpretation, and Management | ICOMOS ICTC & ICOMOS Thailand International Cultural Tourism Expert Symposium 2013 & Workshop
Sukhothai, Thailand, 7-11 October 2013

ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee (ICTC) Workshop and Sukhothai International Cultural Tourism Expert Symposium 2013 was held at Sukhothai, Thailand, October 7-11, 2013. This ICOMOS ICTC event was co-organized by ICOMOS Thailand, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Thammasat University (APTU) Thailand; and the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) Thailand.

The ‘Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns’ were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage in 1991. An ancient kingdom, during the 13th and 14th centuries Sukhothai was located at a strategic crossroad and prospered as a centre of trade. The civilization which evolved in the Kingdom of Sukhothai rapidly absorbed numerous external influences and by incorporating them with ancient local traditions forged what is known as the 'Sukhothai style'. Its art, culture and history are linked to Bagan, Angkor, Ayutthaya and Lanna. Today Sukhothai still has historic monuments illustrating this glorious era of Thai religious art and architecture.

The settlements attached to the Sukhothai - Si Satchanalai – Kamphaeng Phet Historical Parks were recently designated a special area for sustainable tourism development. One key priority has been identified: ensuring the continuation and integrity of cultural values alongside - and integral to – the earliest stages of tourism development. And an urgent need for researchers and experts to work with the local communities has been recognized.

Apart from a number of historic monuments and archeological sites, Sukhothai also produces fine quality and prominent ceramics, goldsmith-silversmith crafts and ethnic textile works, among other living traditions and intangible heritages. Policy planning for the sustainable development and the integration of cultural heritage education, interpretation and management processes is currently non-existent.

Living heritage was the main theme of this ICOMOS ICTC Workshop. There was a focus on the integration of the multi-dimensional cultural values of different places and people within the designated area; and the cultural heritage knowledge, skills and learning processes required to achieve the mutually dependent goals of the successful empowerment of local people and growth of creative tourism in the context of sustainable community and cultural tourism development.

ICOMOS ICTC cultural tourism and heritage management experts were invited - with other international delegates - to observe and work on the cultural sites attached to the Sukhothai - Si Satchanalai – Kamphaeng Phet Historical Parks as part of a continuing research project to promote the creative economy. ICTC also led the dialogue and discussion at the International Cultural Tourism Expert Symposium which will include various stakeholders of the Sukhothai World Heritage Site.