Amidst the luscious landscapes and mythical histories of Thailand’s southern province, Songkhla, there lies a precious gem waiting to be added to the coveted list of Unesco World Heritage Sites. The provincial administrative organisation (PAO) has embarked on this noble pursuit, in partnership with dedicated civic entities. Their common vision? To spotlight the enduring charm of Songkhla’s old town, illuminating its rich tapestry of culture, heritage, and art that has transcended centuries.
A meeting recently convened, regrouping PAO and local dignitaries, civil personnel, and notable figures from community factions. Under the capable leadership of PAO chairman, Paijen Maksuwan, it was unveiled that seasoned consultants have been appointed to craft a progressive development and comprehensive management blueprint. This project aims to align with the stern guidelines set forth by Unesco for the recognition of prospective world heritage sites.
Ellucidating further, Mr Paijen reiterated Songkhla’s illustrious legacy as a bustling regional trading crux, bedecked with a deep and colourful array of inherited cultural artistry and disciplines. Shadowing Thailand’s southern cape, its abundance of cultural treasures seconds only one another province, further bolstering the region’s national heritage placement. Henceforth, the upcoming development plan has been deemed pivotal in fortifying the old town’s preservation efforts, optimising the potential of the alluring tourist hotspot whilst also securing foundations for a sustainable tomorrow.
The PAO’s city planning division director, Phoppon Thongkhanarak, shared crucial insights into the entrusted responsibilities of the consultancy team. Their tasks range from pinpointing the distinct values that bedeck the old town, to establishing a qualification framework for assessing the province’s aptitude in matters pertaining to development and management. She further expressed the intention for the PAO to pool vital data concerning the province’s historical sites, along with a strategy to work in tandem with subject matter experts. Ultimately, the goal is to discern the prospects of these sites achieving world heritage recognition.
Previously, Songkhla has been the focal point of two steering committees, working tirelessly to shine a global spotlight on the heritage-rich southern province. Their combined efforts led to the submission of a draft document, entitled “Songkhla and related communities along Songkhla Lake”, to the regional Governor. Consequently, this was forwarded to the Fine Arts Department for review. The document proposes four nominated sites to the tentative list that encapsulates Phangyang, Phakho, and Siyang historical communities; Sathing Phra historical community; the ancient Khao Daeng and Laem Son fortresses; and Songkhla’s well-loved old town.
In contemporary timeframes, Thailand already includes four cultural and three natural World Heritage Sites, alongside an additional six culturally and naturally significant sites that adorn Unesco’s Tentative List. These include esteemed legacies such as the Phuphrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani, Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan nestled in Nakhon Si Thammarat, to the sacrosanct Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom.