Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Effect foreseen from World Heritage protest{Notice: when Thailand lose they always downplay the issue, typical thieves}

Tour operators say a Thai withdrawal from Unesco's World Heritage Convention would have a modest effect on the country's tourism industry given the many local sites with World Heritage status.

Chidchai Sakornbadee, the general manager of Special Journey, an inbound tour company for the European market, said such a withdrawal would eventually hurt Thailand's reputation internationally.

However, most foreign tourists would understand that the withdrawal was intended as a protest against the decision by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) to consider Cambodia's management plan for Preah Vihear Temple.

"The intrinsic value of World Heritage sites in Thailand would remain unchanged, and the protest would not affect that," said Mr Chidchai.

He said Thai tour operators would be able to adjust to the situation.

"We can explain to tourists what has happened in Thailand. For example, we could say these attractions used to be World Heritage sites, but unfair treatment by the WHC caused Thailand to protest by withdrawing from the convention," said Mr Chidchai.He also said that if local politics blows up again, many tour companies would have to suspend their operations due mainly to poor liquidity.

During other recent periods of political and economic turmoil, operators requested financial assistance from the government to stay in business.

Thailand has five undisputed World Heritage sites - Ban Chiang Archaeological Site (listed in 1992), Historic City of Ayutthaya (1991), Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns (1991), Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (2005) and Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (1991)

These sites are big draws for European and American tourists.

The global trend now is environmentally friendly tourism, so local operators could promote Thailand's many natural attractions, Mr Chidchai added.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said most tour wholesalers in China and elsewhere understand the issue is purely political in nature.

Thailand's World Heritage sites are minor compared with the Seven Wonders of the World such as the Great Wall of China, he said.

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