This month we are pleased to be able to completely refresh our image selections from three previously photographed World Heritage sites.
It’s not often that we get the opportunity to revisit and reshoot sites and the new galleries of these Vietnamese locations were taken when I recently travelled through Vietnam to record all their WH sites (as well as one that they hope to get inscribed) so that there will a comprehensive archive available of Vietnam’s sites for future public photo exhibitions and UNESCO publications etc.
When travelling extensively through a developing country such as Vietnam, it is easy to understand the challenges that local administrations and heritage organisations face when confronted with the urgent need for economic growth and infrastructure building. All through the country, construction and development is taking place and tourism is being encouraged as a way to increase local income. Heritage issues (and assets) can often be sidelined by the need to build the economy and increase the local standard of living.
All this is understandable but the two urban sites that we are profiling this month seem to have found a good balance between conservation and development. And both are getting a beneficial spin-off from increasing tourist numbers.
The ancient town of Hoi An and the Monuments of the old imperial city of Hue are impressive sites that are integrated into living, thriving city communities and both have become popular tourist destinations. Tourism is a large part of Hoi An’s economy and Hue is investing a lot in restoration of the central Citadel area and new tourism infrastructure.
At these sites, the local residents seem well aware of the need to constantly monitor the balance between progress and preservation and it was encouraging to find such awareness among the general public and not only with the experts and administrators. There was also understanding of the need to keep the locations authentic and to not allow a tourist culture to swamp the local lifestyle and values.
The remains of the Campa temple complex at My Son is more remote and doesn’t face urban pressures, but its isolation has created transport challenges which the authorities are now working to address.
We hope that the photos in our new galleries will convey some of the special nature of these sites and we congratulate the local authorities for the good work that they are doing preserving them for the future.
Next month we will be showcasing some new World Heritage sites from Vietnam...
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