Developing tourism in association with preservation of heritage

Ninh Binh provincial authorities have removed the 'Kong: Skull Island' film studio from the centre of Trang An world heritage site, following UNESCO's recommendations.

The appearance of the ‘Kong: Skull Island’ film studio will would make visitors misunderstand it is a part of Trang An world heritage.
The appearance of the ‘Kong: Skull Island’ film studio will would make visitors misunderstand it is a part of Trang An world heritage.

A few days earlier, the Yen Bai provincial authorities’ decision of stopping registration for Guinness World Record recognition of a biggest-ever performance of a Xoe dance, involving 5,000 people, was appreciated by experts, becoming a good precedent in behaviour towards preserving heritages.

The ‘Kong: Skull Island’ film studio, with part of the original aboriginal village and local cast members dressed up as aboriginal people to reproduce scenes from the film, has attracted thousands of visitors over recent times. UNESCO was concerned that the appearance of the film studio, which was not related to the local culture or the value of Trang An landscape, would cause visitors to misunderstand this fictional product of the film as a part of the world heritage site.

The big performance of Xoe dance is a central tourism product of Muong Lo Cultural – Tourism Festival and a typical cultural feature of the Northwestern region. Yen Bai Province had announced the preparation of dossiers for a world record, aiming to promote the ancient Xoe folk dance of Thai ethnic minority group in the region to the world. However, after hearing experts’ suggestions, the provincial authorities decided to not seek Guinness World Record recognition. According to the experts, the participation of large numbers of people in a big performance does not make sense in preserving the heritage and may violate the UNESCO’s recommendations because the dossier of Xoe Thai art has been submitted to the UNESCO for recognition of a representative intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Vietnam has set several records, such as quan ho (love duet) singing with the participation of 3,000 people and a giant banh chung (square glutinous rice cake) to worship Hung Kings. However, they were not meaningful.

Cultural and natural heritages are a valuable resource and one of the typical conditions for tourism development. However, tourism is also a means to convey and demonstrate cultural values as well as to awaken and arouse cultural values that are falling into oblivion. However, uncontrolled tourism activities in many localities have caused many negative impacts on the heritages.

How to develop tourism while preserving the origin of theheritages is still a challenge for the authorities. However, it is very important for relevant agencies to hear recommendations from experts and consider carefully before making their decision on behaviour and exploitation of heritages in order to harmonise preservation and sustainable development.