Day two of the workshop

Sunday 27 September, 2009  – Mogao, Gansu, Western China

At breakfast, Graeme Brookes from Australia ICOMOS told me he was going to ask ‘my wife’ to be on a committee or two for the organisation. A gentle explanation set him straight.

On the bus out to Mogao, we swapped shopping stories. In return for the saga of Maria’s jeans and late-night tailoring, Greg Terrill said that he’d had new glasses made in a local opticians for very little cost. It sounded like he had similar astigmatism issues as me, so I may give it a try. I do have my script with me, but he said they didn’t really understand his, so measured his old glasses instead.

At the Academy, we moved from the big auditorium to the conference room, complete with a little booth at the back corner for the interpreters, who provided a heroic service with their simultaneous translations.

Wong Xedong, Deputy Director of the Dunhuang Academy:

  • Discussed their ‘open cave’ days to allow members of the local community to observe conservation processes on one day per week. It helps visitors to understand why other places are not open to them and reminds them of the fragility of the Site.
  • (Having observed the conservation teams at work in the caves in their painstaking work, I concur – just one look and no sentient person would dare to touch the painted surface. I felt distinctly uncomfortable in several caves where carved lotus blooms on the floor tiles were unprotected and clearly suffering.)
  • He also discussed the way they invite primary school students to visit the caves free of charge – and believes the impacts of this will be felt positively into the next generation.

Zhang Yanha (SP)

  • Chinese tourists’ desire for more indepth experience at heritage sites
  • Intention to visit the area to see a series of sites
  • Network of sites emerging.


  • Mogao being positioned as one of the four ‘must see’ heritage sites in China – after the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Terracotta Warriors at Xian.

Zhang Xiaohan – Economist

  • ‘Incomplete Contract’ approach.
  • Dunhuang’s economy moves from agriculture to tourism
  • Increased infrastructure, access at a risk of damage to sites
  • Who should operate cultural heritage tourism?

CAI Mentang

  • WHITRAP Centres – network for knowledge sharing.

Guatemala presentation

  • CAP methodology for identifying and assessing heritage values (both tangible and intangible)
  • Lack of governance

Dabney Ford – Chaco Canyon Park, New Mexico

  • Strong legislative basis gives management the authority to err on the side of conservation
  • Heritage value of ‘new age’ visitation and relics

Simon Woodward, UK, International Centre for Responsible Tourism, York University

  • Influences on tourism, esp cultural tourism
  • Host-guest relationships

Anne Vourch – Grande Sites de France

  • Guidelines for major French tourism sites
  • Discussion of relocation of inappropriate commercial operations (market stalls)

Graeme Brookes, Australia ICOMOS

Suggested ICOMOS Cultural Tourism Principles

  1. Conservation work must continue at WH Sites
  2. Effective partnerships between heritage & tourism sectors can lead to good outcomes
  3. Public awareness of WH will lead to greater public support
  4. Effective tourism planning and visitor management will contribute to conservation outcomes
  5. Tourism planning and management should involve the local community
  6. Tourism infrastructure and visitor facilities must be well designed
  7. WH Management should have adequate skills and resources to manage tourism
  8. Tourism revenue should be applied to conservation and development in an equitable and effective manner.

Dinner was put on at the hotel by the Academy – a repeat of breakfast and not wildly exciting.

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