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1.0. Introduction

A good test of any effective organization is that it can subject itself to a frank self-criticism, admit mistakes (if any), incorporate improvements and move on from there.

Looking back on the original formation of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail we can see that more thought should have been given to the following before the establishment of the trail:

  • Consensus – consultation was restricted to a limited number of parties we felt necessary to accomplish the project. Importantly, more relevant Government departments should have been envolved at the beginning of the negotiations
  • Financial – eventual sustainable objectives were not considered, only the immediate objective of acquiring sufficient funds to save the buildings from disintegration
  • Tourism – opportunities for tourism were not adequately considered at all. No thought was given at any time to the carrying capacity of the trail or to the infrastructure necessary to cater for the additional visitors. However, a signage project was intiated and completed
  • Opportunities for residents – one valuable unplanned advantage was that local villagers were able to capitalize on the large number of tourists to open shops and stalls selling snacks and beverages. As it was mainly the elderly retired villagers who profited from this, they gained an operation independence (empowerment) from the main bread winners in the family, who were mainly employed in the city

In mitigation of the above, it must be said that, if a full UNESCO model program had been followed at the time, it would not be possible for us to preserve and restore these valuable buildings to their original splendor as roofs had already collapsed and suggestions had already been made for the building to be repaired by the villagers in their own way.

2.0. After Lijiang

2.1. Consensus

We intend to expand our existing working group (or increase separate specialist sub-groups) by inviting representatives from the Hong Kong Tourist Board (HKTB) and Tourism Commission ( a Government department) to join us. Inter-government consensus is required at an early stage, particularly from the various work departments. Public work share no longer handled by one department but have been fragmented into independent departments for:

  1. Drainage
  2. Water supplies
  3. Geo-technical
  4. Highways
  5. Environmental protection

2.2. Finance

Funding must first be obtained for repair and restoration of our three pilot heritage buildings. This is central to the agreement already made with the villagers and will demonstrate our genuine intentions of acting on the consensus. It will also form a core attraction and will provide a conservation guide for the restoration of other lesser but still important historic buildings on the trail.

Sources of funding for recurrent expenses must be sought. Single donations from village benefactors will be encouraged (mainly nom-tangible items are donated, e.g. funding for ceremonies, entertainment, festivals, etc.) The HKTB will be requested to approach their usual sponsors for new signage, brochures, publicity, etc.

Infrastructure – improvement to infrastructure is being solicited from the Kowloon-Canton Railway as part of their new station development. This will take the form of drainage improvements, utilities and site formation. However, these come at a price, as the new station closely adjoins the trail and will cause a major visual impact. The station itself can now form a new and identifiable entry point to the trail with the obvious advantage that there will be easier visitor access from the city and the major hotels.

2.3. Tourism industry investment

Direct financial contribution from the industry is not expected but indirect assistance is required for provision of technical advice. Any sponsorship funding obtained will be a bonus.

Firstly, the carrying capacity of the trail and future tourism sustainability should be considered. (Note: Our own ballpark assessment for carrying capacity is 26,000 per week as this figure was found to be comfortable in the past. New variables have since been introduced, such as the construction of a railway station and the extension of the trail incorporating additional attractions.)

2.4. Local training and employment

Hopefully, employment of the elderly villagers will pick up once more to its former level, with the selling of food and beverages to mainly Chinese visitors. It is also hoped that the range of goods will be extended and include such things as local handicrafts, religious and clan artifacts, etc. but this will be left to the initiative of the shopkeepers and market demand.

The HKTB will be asked to consider recruiting local educated villagers as guides. Custodians of the restored historic buildings will also be needed and, again, local knowledgeable villagers will be sought.

The provision of a clan, cultural center will encourage more local activities and improve knowledge of local heritage. Student and school visits to the trail will be encouraged once more.

2.5. Time scale

  1. December – seek funding for pilot projects. Seek legal protection for pilot buildings. Form expanded working group
  2. February – final action plan to UNESCO
    April – receive funding for pilot projects
    May – start site work on pilot buildings
    June – discuss specific tourism plans with HKTB
    July – plan signage and brochures
    October – review and monitoring of progress
    November – discussion with stakeholders. Discuss expansion of legal protection to whole of trail with Planning Department
    December – complete pilot projects
  3. January – commence publicity for trail and institute a “soft re-opening’
    May – investigate possibilities for enhancing trail
    October – review and monitoring progress
    November – discuss with stakeholders
  4. January – first phase of trail completed
    February – submit to UNESCO for acknowledgement and submit application for heritage award
    October – review and monitoring of progress
    November – discussion with stakeholders
  5. October – appraisal of trail by UNESCO representatives
    November – consider recommendations by UNESCO representatives and begin full cycle of consensus building, fiscal management, etc, etc, in order to raise the attraction of the trail and stakeholders aspirations to another level, if agreed