Plain of Jars on track for UNESCO listing next year
Lao authorities will submit documentation to UNESCO by the end of this month for the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province to be added to the world heritage list after the government approved related documents last year.
The UNESCO vetting process is expected to take about 18 months, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
The site comprises 11 locations and covers about 200 hectares in Kham, Phaxay, Paek and Phoukoud districts. It contains more than 1,000 stone vessels, commonly referred to as jars.
The government has now completed all the documents needed to nominate the Plain of Jars as a World Heritage Site.
This information was confirmed yesterday by a ministry official in charge of the matter while attending the National Consultation Meeting towards Adoption of the Nomination Dossier and the Management System of Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Professor Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, representatives from UNESCO and other invited guests.
“All related documents must be submitted to UNESCO in Paris before January 31,” the Director General of the ministry’s Heritage Department, Mr Thongbay Phothisane, told Vientiane Times after the meeting.
“We cannot say if or when the documents will be approved by UNESCO, but we hope the Plain of Jars will be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019 if all the documents are accepted.”
Mr Thongbay said the committees in charge of the process have worked with experts to prepare the submission for the Plain of Jars. They have also made many trips to the site since 1998. “During our mission, we conducted field surveys, held field discussions with all stakeholders and had a formal consultation meeting in preparation to apply for the status of World Heritage Site in favour of the Plain of Jars,” Mr Thongbay said.
The Plain of Jars is under consideration for nomination as a Natural World Heritage site for its significant archaeological, historical and natural value.
He was confident the Plain of Jars would attract more local and overseas tourists once it was approved as a World Heritage Site.
“With its huge potential, this site will contribute to national socio-economic development and especially benefit local people,” Mr Thongbay added.
The process of submitting the Plain of Jars to the World Heritage Committee began 20 years ago, according to the department.
Tourism infrastructure has developed significantly in recent years and Xieng Khuang is regarded as one of the top tourist destinations in Laos. More than 150,000 tourists visit Xieng Khuang each year, injecting billions of kip into the local economy, according to the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department.
The government plans to make a similar submission to UNESCO for the Hin Nam Nor National Protected Area in Khammuan province.
Laos currently has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the old quarter of Luang Prabang, which was listed in 1995, and the pre-Angkor Vat Phou temple complex in Champassak province which was listed in 2001.
By Phaisythong Chandara
(Latest Update January 18, 2018)
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