Letter from Luang Prabang
World Heritage Designation: Blessing or Threat?
Author: Dawn Starin
The author of this piece from Luang Prabang remarks on the effects of Unesco’s designation of Laos’s fourth largest city as a “World Heritage Site.” Was the assigning of the label in 1995 a “kiss of death” for what makes Luang Prabang special? Will the designation lead to a tsunami of tourism that will destroy the cultural character and treasures Unesco sought to preserve? Has Unesco’s action given birth to a premature mad dash for modernization, development, and tourism that threatens Laos and its people almost as much as incursions and colonial ambitions and mad bombing campaigns by the U.S. Air Force did in the past?