24.08.2009 - UNESCO Office in Ha Noi

Implementing Public Use Planning at Quang Nam’s Heritage Sites

©UNESCO / Cham Island Site Manager, Le Ngoc Thao

In 2009, UNESCO Viet Nam began working with the Quang Nam People’s Committee on a high-level intervention that would promote sustainable development in Quang Nam province, home to three UNESCO heritage sites: My Son and Hoi An World Heritage and Cham Island Biosphere Reserve. The aim was to assist authorities at each of these sites to develop and implement complete tourism plans that would identify and rank attractions, establish an interpretation system, define a site zoning, set conservation regulations and develop a framework to monitor tourism activity.

In addition to the individual visitor plans, the intervention would also develop an overall tourism strategy for Quang Nam. This document would identify key issues for balancing conservation and development in the province and promote solutions and activity to address these issues. This strategy would be developed in parallel with the site management plans and would involve the same set of key stakeholders throughout all processes.

To address site planning, UNESCO introduced its World Heritage Centre Public Use Planning Programme (PUP). The PUP programme differs from traditional models of planning in that it uses the planning process as a means of building capacity of site staff. In other approaches, site managers are not directly involved in the planning process and often fail to develop the competencies and proficiencies needed to implement their own plans and respond to development challenges. PUP uses an adaptable, evolving methodology that encourages the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders. This is especially important Quang Nam, where local communities have scarce opportunities to benefit from the growing tourism economy.

In February of 2010, UNESCO invited PUP founder, John Kohl and former UNESCO Programme Specialist for Sustainable Development, Art Pedersen, to facilitate an introductory workshop to site managers and staff from the Quang Nam DoCST. Mr. Kohl explained that PUP’s participatory process was unique because it “depends more on community members choosing responsibility and accountability, which rarely happens in conventional planning since little power-sharing occurs between planning agencies and stakeholders.”

Following this workshop, the PUP implementation process began by first training an in-country resource team, including UNESCO Viet Nam staff and consultants from the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), who would be responsible for contracting PUP training sessions with site managers and DoCST staff. These staff would then return to their heritage sites to hold workshops with community stakeholders to develop portions of their management plan using the PUP process. As draft sections of the management plan were completed, stakeholder workshops were held with all three sites to further incorporate inputs and develop the provincial strategy. Throughout this process, staff from UNESCO Viet Nam and SNV provided technical support.

By the end of 2010, the individual site management plans had been completed and an overall Quang Nam tourism strategy had been drafted that detailed specific activities with definite timelines. Management staff from each of the three sites all relayed the success of the plan development process and of the PUP methodology. Ms. Dinh Thuy a site manger from Hoi An Ancient Town praised PUP’s inclusion of local communities and representatives from the private sector during planning: “By participating in workshops throughout the planning process, stakeholders were able to clarify their roles, identified challenges and suggest solutions”.

My Son site manager, Mr. Huynh Tan Lap, reported that he had already seen positive changes among his site staff: “my team members now have a better understanding of the heritage’s meanings and the roles and responsibility of each person to reach the common targets. There have also been changes in awareness and working style of staff”.

Mr. Le Ngoc Thao, Cham Island site manager, appreciated the wide range of stakeholder perspectives that play a part in a PUP management plan, including that of the visitors: “The method doesn’t just focus on site management but also aims to improve the experiences of tourists. For example, when determining a zoning plan the tourist experience is one of the most important factors.”

As a result of integrating lessons learnt from each of the site management plans into the provincial strategy drafting process, authorities refocused their tourism development targets for Quang Nam from quantity-based tourism growth to quality-based tourism growth. The strategy initially identified two priority activities that would produce socio-economic gains for the tourism industry and benefit the local communities.

In the first of these, 29 artisans took part in a craft development training programme that aimed to create new product ranges, product lines and product collections with themes inspired from local culture. In the second, UNESCO introduced its "Cultural Heritage Specialist Guide Programme" to raise the raise the professional capacity of heritage guides in the province and reinforce sustainable tourism development.

Together with Quang Nam People’s Committee, other UN agencies and donors, UNESCO is continuing to support the heritage sites and communities in Quang Nam to carry out additional activities proposed in the overall tourism strategy.

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