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Development of the interpretive dimensions of the Vat Phou Site and Champasak Landscape

Based on the goals of the various stakeholders, an interpretive strategy for the heritage value of Vat Phou and the Champasak Cultural Landscape was formulated in order to:

  1. enhance the understanding of the integrated value of the Champasak cultural landscape;
  2. promote cultural tourism experiences for the Laotian and international communities;
  3. inform and stimulate visitors regarding the landscape's heritage values;
  4. use the tourist activity to raise funds for conservation activities; and
  5. provide income enhancement opportunities for the local community through the creation of a series of locally owned micro tourism enterprises.

The following interpretive media have been developed:

 

Visitor brochure

The brochure has been designed to provide basic information on what the tourists can do in the area as well as to provide a very brief introduction to the historical and archaeological elements of the cultural landscape. The brochure will be an essential element in helping to create economic development opportunities for the community and to orient the visitor to the various opportunities that the cultural landscape presents. The reproduction of the tourist brochure was funded by the Asian Development Bank under the Community-Based Tourism Project in Lao PDR of the National Tourism Authority of Lao PDR - ADB Mekong Tourism Development Project.

 

Visitor center

A visitor center is currently being constructed in Champasak District, with funding from the Asian Development Bank under the Community-Based Tourism Project in Lao PDR of the National Tourism Authority of Lao PDR - ADB Mekong Tourism Development Project. The concept was provided by UNESCO, including the final design of the visitor center, within the context of this UNESCO Project. The center will be staffed by knowledgeable individuals who will provide both information on the historical and archaeological significance of the landscape, as well as information on basic tourist facilities in the area. The visitor center will house an architectural model of the Champasak landscape and thirteen (13) information panels. An educational video will also be presented.

 

Interpretive video

The interpretive video will provide the visitor with an overall sense of the cultural landscape using a digital flyover technique as well as the use of a 3-D model for the Vat Phou temple. It will also provide a high level of understanding of both the overall landscape and the temple.

 

Interpretive model

An architectural model to be exhibited in the visitor center will serve as a useful reference point for visitors and will provide interpreters at the visitor center with an excellent tool for describing the overall landscape and individual elements within it. The model was produced with UNESCO project funds, but the transport cost from Bangkok (where the model was produced) to Vat Phou was provided under the ADB project.

 

Heritage trail

The development of a heritage trail that introduces the visitor to the entire cultural landscape is an ideal way of guiding the visitor throughout the landscape in an organized manner. Initially, an initial heritage trail is being developed for a trail from the Champasak Town-Ancient City-Vat Phou Temple Complex. The second trail being developed is from Champasak Town-Ancient City-Vat Phou Temple Complex with the addition of other historic standing ruins (Nang Sida Temple and Thao Tao Temple), the Tomo Temple and Don Deng Island. The sites included in the first heritage trail already have management and interpretation plans, but not in the case of the additional sites in the second heritage trail. In addition, all of the sites require careful stabilization, rehabilitation and site preparation work carried out before visitors can be accommodated, both for the safety of visitors as well as the protection of the heritage resources themselves. The physical development of the Heritage trail will be funded from other sources, possibly the ADB project.

 

Signages

Interpretive and directional signages have been designed to complement the landscape. The text will be both in Lao and in English, and will be developed by experts from the national and local governments, in close collaboration with UNESCO. Interpretive signs will contain maps, photographs and illustrations, as well as text. Specifications for both directional and interpretive signages have been developed under this UNESCO project.

 

Website

The final element in the present interpretive strategy is a website, which has been finalized, but not yet uploaded into the internet. The website will provide potential visitors and tour operators with a good understanding of the landscape and its tourism potential. It will also provide information on the management plan and the interpretive strategy being used.

 

The final report on the development of the interpretive dimensions of the Vat Phou Site and Champasak Landscape can be accessed here.