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World Heritage sites in the spotlight

Update: October, 20/2014 - 14:23
Hundreds of secondary school students in Ha Noi participate in the World Heritage Eco learning programme which takes them a visit through the Thang Long Imperial Citadel built in the 11th century.
HA NOI (VNS) — For the first time, images of Viet Nam's World Heritage sites are placed alongside those of their counterparts from all over the world to show audiences the link between them.

The UNESCO Hanoi Office and Panasonic Vietnam organised the exhibit, entitled Discovery Wonders of World Heritage, which opened last Saturday with the aim of promoting the unique beauty of World Heritage sites.

The exhibit is on display at 19-C Hoang Dieu Street and will move on later to other cities and provinces.

Displayed in front of the Doan Mon (Main Gate) of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel are the images of spectacular heritage sites, including the eight World Heritage sites of Viet Nam.

These include Trang An Landscape Complex, Ha Long Bay, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and ancient Hoi An Town.

The Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur in Egypt, Yellowstone National Park and Memphis and its Necropolis in the United States, the Taj Mahal in India and the Historic Centre of Roma, Italy are presented using an innovative design.

The exhibit is constructed from triangle units formed from fundamental squares. The first area features 12 sites while the second shows various views and angles of the sites in Viet Nam.

On this occasion, Panasonic Vietnam presented prizes for the best 15 picture drawings of the annual Eco Picture Diary and Kids Witness News contests, which encouraged children to express creative ideas for preserving the environment and to promote the practice of green living.

The opening of the exhibit was followed by a World Heritage Eco learning programme for hundreds of secondary school students in the capital city which aims to bring them to the sites and elicit their ideas for preserving them.

"The structure of the exhibit highlights the fact that the greatness of nature originates from tiny things," said Katherine Muller-Marin, head of UNESCO Vietnam.

"Each heritage site is portrayed individually, yet all are linked closely to one another to create harmony between natural and cultural heritage, between the heritage of Viet Nam and of the world," Muller-Marin added.

"The beauty of world heritage is there for all of us to discover, but the challenge of protecting these valuable properties is also our mutual responsibility," noted Muller-Marin. "I hope the young audience of Viet Nam will enjoy this exhibit as much as we do and will not hesitate to join hands in heritage conservation activities in the future."

Nong Quoc Thanh, deputy head of the Ministry of Culture's Cultural Heritage Department, said the display was the first of its kind to introduce Viet Nam's World Heritage sites to foreigners from other countries in the world.

"In hopes of ensuring the sound growth and development of children, who will be the driving force of our planet's future, as well as maximising their potential, we believe in the importance of providing them with opportunities for learning," said Masahiro Yamamoto, Panasonic Vietnam corporate planning director.

Promoting UNESCO sites

A Japanese visitor discovers Viet Nam's World Heritage sites at the display Discover Wonder of the World Heritage which places the country's eight heritage sites next to the 12 heritage sites from over the world. — Photos Nguyen Khanh Chi
Last Friday, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Viet Nam held a workshop here to develop a strategy to promote the country's world heritage sites.

Viet Nam is home to eight natural world heritage sites, eight intangible cultural heritage sites, four documentary heritage sites and eight world biosphere reserves.

Thanh of the Cultural Heritage Department, said that since gaining official UNESCO recognition, the sites, especially those classified as a natural heritage, have become well-known tourist destinations, contributing to domestic socio-economic development and helping promote Viet Nam's global image.

Thanh stressed that UNESCO recognition was not intended to develop tourism but rather, to instil responsibility in localities to preserve and uphold the values of various heritage sites.

A UNESCO representative said that by making good use of promotional techniques and communication tools, Viet Nam could influence visitors' behaviour at heritage sites and engage the community in heritage protection.

At the workshop, a participant presented useful measures for the promotion of world heritage sites while noting that existing information on Viet Nam's sites was not recorded in a digital database and consisted only of simple documents, photographs and drawings.

Participants also discussed the benefits of applying a heritage promotion strategy that detailed the strategy development process and concrete proposals to promote Viet Nam's sites.

UNESCO researcher Duong Bich Hanh suggested that tour guides provide better information at the sites.

For example, a guide at Ho Citadel in the central province of Thanh Hoa often provide tourists which too much statistical information such as the estimated date of construction and the estimated number of builders, which might not be totally correct.

Yet they tend to forget to talk about the defensive value of the citadel and the first cannon that the Vietnamese people produced, which are more interesting and valuable, she added.

On media's task of promoting the sites, Tran Mai Anh, senior editor of Vietnam Airlines' in-flight Heritage magazine, stressed that the magazine needed good stories, accompanied with high-resolution photographs, of heritage sites.

But local tourism departments often send bad or small-sized photographs, which compel the editorial board to take care of the photographs themselves, thereby hindering the promotional task.

Researcher Phan Thanh Hai, director of Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, suggested that each site be promoted using a long-term plan lasting at least 20 years. — VNS

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