LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Monday presented Laos with a certificate confirming the inscription of the Plain of Jars on the World Heritage List.
The certificate was presented to Prof. Dr. Bosengkham Vongdara, a special envoy of the Lao government, at the Forum of Ministers of Culture in the framework of the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.
Speaking at the certificate presentation ceremony, Prof. Dr. Bosengkham said: “Our basic concept is preservation for sustainable development and development for effective preservation so that we preserve our national identity and it becomes more and more popular among the multi-ethnic people.” “At the same time, this process should be progressive and modern, smooth and harmonious, combining the most authentic identity of our multi-ethnic culture with the best of the diverse and multi-coloured cultures in the world.” “We highly appreciate the role of UNESCO in promoting cultural diversity, so that we can preserve and develop our own diverse and unique national culture and can learn from each other on this matter in a close and constructive way.” “Furthermore, our government is making a great effort to promote our culture through tourism. Our policy is to develop and promote cultural tourism, natural ecotourism and historical tourism by preserving and opening up our cultural and historical sites. Our policy and concept is to develop sustainable tourism by preserving and developing our national culture and our rich nature for the next generation,” Prof. Dr Bosengkham said.
The Plain of Jars, formally called the Megalithic Jar Sites, was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List at a meeting of the World Heritage Committee held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on July 10 this year. Inscription on this list acknowledges the outstanding universal value of a culture or natural property which requires protection for the benefit of all humanity. The Plain of Jars, located on a plateau in Xieng Khuang province, is named for the more than 2,100 tubular-shaped megalithic stone jars that are believed to have been used for funerary practices in the Iron Age, according to UNESCO.
Director General of the Heritage Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Thongbay Phothisane, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday the government will hold a special event to mark the listing of the Plain of Jars as a world heritage site during the opening ceremony of the National Games in Xieng Khuang province next year. This event will comprise various activities and plenty of accommodation will be available for visitors, he added. In anticipation of an influx of visitors, Xieng Khuang officials will extend and upgrade the facilities available for tourists.
The province will also improve infrastructure, especially roads, to ensure visitor safety, Xieng Khuang provincial governor Mr. Bounton Chanthaphone said. Provincial authorities will seek investment by Lao and foreign businesses in the construction of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and entertainment venues. Local residents will be encouraged to grow organic vegetables for provision to markets, hotels and restaurants so that visitors enjoy healthy food during their stay.
The province will hold a meeting to discuss the improvement of services and the readiness of accommodation for visitors, an official from the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mr. Sivilay Oudomsouk, told Vientiane Times. The Plain of Jars is Laos’ third World Heritage Site. The former capital of the Lanexang Kingdom of Laos, Luang Prabang, was inscribed in 1995, followed by Vat Phou Champassak in 2001.
The Plain of Jars is a popular tourist attraction and has become symbolic of Xieng Khuang province. Visitors to the province can also enjoy outings to hot springs, caves and old temples of historical and cultural significance. Xieng Khuang is 435km north of Vientiane and is accessible via all-weather roads that allow tourists to experience stunning views. The province can also be accessed by plane. More than 144,000 people visited Xieng Khuang last year, according to the Tourism Development Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.