The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a new guidebook and website designed specifically for special interest travellers wishing to visit the region’s most prominent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, using Thailand as a hub and launching pad.
Mr Suraphon Svetasreni, TAT Governor, presided over the launch on October 4, 2011 at the Bangkok National Museum. The formal name of the project, “Gateway to Usakhane Guidebook and Exotic Usakhane Website” builds upon the word “Usakhane” (pronounced Oosa-Khanay) which means “South East Asia” in Thai.
According to official records, Southeast Asia is known as “Suvarnabhumi,” or “Golden Land”, a term that appears in many ancient documents denoting the richness of the land, its settlement by diverse communities, and a key transit point on an ancient maritime trade route between Europe and Asia, including China.
Although many of the Southeast Asian countries have experienced various changes over the centuries, they have maintained their rich traditions and identities. Many of the historic kingdoms and principalities have now evolved, reformed and become independent nations known today as State of Brunei Darussalam, Kingdom of Cambodia, Republic of Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Republic of the Philippines, Republic of Singapore, Kingdom of Thailand and Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Many of the monuments, temples and palaces built over the centuries by the inhabitants of “Usakhane” are today considered World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), such as:
– Cambodia: Angkor, Temple of Preah Vihear
– Laos: Town of Luang Prabang, Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape
– Myanmar: Kingdom of Pagan
– Vietnam: Complex of Hue Monuments, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary
– Thailand: Historic City of Ayutthaya, Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns, Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
– Indonesia: Borobudur Temple Compounds, Prambanan Temple Compounds, Sangiran Early Man Site.
These are the monuments listed in the new TAT guidebook.
TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni said, “These cultural icons are playing a major role in the modern-day policy objective to link the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The planned creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 will mean greater financial and economic integration, and tourism and culture will figure very highly in this integration process. Thailand has been assigned to prepare a roadmap on tourism and air transport integration, which is consistent with the TAT policy to focus on promoting tourism with our neighbouring countries.”
The Governor noted that compiling the historical highlights and heritage of the various ancient kingdoms of Usakhane into one easy-to-read and -follow publication adds value to the region’s tourism sector and promotes cooperation between the public and private sectors to preserve and maintain this heritage.
He noted, “The policies of ASEAN governments are now geared towards promoting the freedom of products, people, capital and services within the region. This will mean greater relaxation of visa policies and development of air, road, rail and sea links.
“Low-cost airlines are already making an impact, and the ongoing emergence of the Asian Highway will link the main primary and secondary cities from the South China Sea to those in the Bay of Bengal, as well as from Singapore to China, all of which will criss-cross through Thailand.”
He added, “All these developments will continue to boost domestic and intra-regional tourism. The TAT, which has long been at the forefront of promoting both ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Sub-region, is proud to be doing its share.
“We hope the Gateway to Usakhane guidebook and website will be read and enjoyed by our increasingly sophisticated new generation of global travellers.”