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Trang An tourism complex - A

journey to earn UNESCO

Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh
Binh province was named on the
UNESCO World Heritage List of
Natural and Cultural Sites in June
2014, making it the country's first site
to earn the title.

The recognition is the outcome of a long

process of compiling and defending the
heritage dossier. The article below by
Director of the site's management board,
Nguyen Duc Long, briefs the readers on
the site's journey to UNESCO
recognition, as well as the province's
efforts during the process.
Compiling the heritage dossier: Every
effort was made
In the first move to seek the UNESCO
title, the steering committee board
actively co-ordinated with the Vietnam
National Committee for UNESCO to
compile a dossier to be submitted to the
They also hosted a field trip to Trang An
Landscape Complex for Professor Paul
Dingwall from the International Union
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in
order to hear his advice. Many UNESCO
leading experts were invited to Vietnam
to help the province build a dossier in line
with UNESCO standards.
In addition, an international workshop
was held on July 24, 2012 to gather the
opinions of domestic and international
experts on identifying the outstanding
universal value of the site. Based on
scientific research and suggestions
contributed by the participants, the
compilation board decided to build the
dossier focusing on the site's three
distinguished values: landscape, geology
and culture.
A draft of the dossier was completed in
September 2012 and it was then sent to
the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in
Paris for consultation. Based on the
collected feedback, Ninh Binh provincial
leaders ordered relevant agencies to
supplement and complete the draft.
The final file on Trang An Landscape
Complex was submitted to the Centre
again on January 17, 2013, 15 days ahead
of schedule.
Defending the dossier: Facing
Although the dossier was completed in
less than a year, it was appreciated by
UNESCO experts for being thoroughly
prepared and meeting assigned
Seven months later, UNESCO sent a
group of experts to Vietnam to evaluate
integrity, management and protection of
the site, its outstanding universal value,
and tourism development. The working
trip for the experts was well-organised
and a left good impression on the
In their report assessing the Trang An
Landscape Complex, consultancy
agencies agreed that Trang An boats rich
potential meeting UNESCO criteria on
outstanding universal value. However,
they postponed its nomination and asked
for further information since the site had
not yet ensured its integrity and the work
of management and protection.
After acquiring the opinions, Vietnamese
experts revised the dossier again in a bid
to gather sufficient evidence and
arguments to defend the dossier and
convince the World Heritage Committee
(WHC) to recognise Trang An as a world
heritage site.
Regarding the experts' suggestion on
removing the culture feature from the
dossier to make it easier to be approved,
the Vietnamese working group consulted
the ideas of international experts and
decided to keep the criterion. They
argued that the uniqueness of Trang An is
the harmony between culture and nature
-they are thus inseparable when
evaluating the heritage.
Equipped with strong determination,
Vietnamese delegates left for Qatar to
attend the WHC 38th session held in
Doha June 15-25, 2014.
On the sidelines of the event, the
Vietnamese delegation also co-ordinated
with the Cultural Heritage Department
under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and
Tourism (MoCST); the Vietnam National
Committee for UNESCO; and the
Vietnamese delegation to UNESCO to
hold meetings and talks with delegations
of WHC member countries to advertise
the excellent cultural and natural value of
the Trang An Landscape Complex.
After two-hours of defending the dossier
on June 25, the Vietnamese delegates
won UNESCO approval, recognising
Trang An as a world cultural and natural
heritage site.
Preparations to receive UNESCO's
certificate: Ninh Binh is ready
With the approval of the Prime Minister
and the MoCST, Ninh Binh province will
host a programme to mark the province's
receipt of UNESCO's certificate
honouring Trang An Landscape
Complex, from January 22 to 24.
A grand ceremony will be staged at the
Bai Dinh Pagoda on January 23 to
receive the UNESCO certificate.
The programme will also feature a wide
variety of cultural, arts and tourism
activities, including an exhibition
boasting Vietnam's World Heritage Sites,
a fair showcasing handicraft products of
Ninh Binh, and a show introducing
Vietnamese folk music such
as Cheo(traditional opera)
and Xam singing (an ancient folk art form
performed by blind beggars).
An international symposium will also be
held to discuss the work of management,
preservation and promotion of the world
heritages' values.
A stamp set spotlighting the beauty of
Trang An complex will be made public
on the occasion.
Visitors will be able to join a ceremony
praying for the peace of the world and the
nation, and the prosperity of all people, at
Bai Dinh Pagoda.
Taking part in the event, tourists will be
invited to immerse themselves in a space
where culture, history and spirituality are
harmoniously combined together, the
venue of outstanding universal value, and
the meeting place of those sharing the
same passion to discover the diversity of
culture and nature.
Preparations for the programme have
been completed. Ninh Binh locals are
eager for the event and are ready to
welcome visitors from Vietnam and
abroad to province.
(Nguyen Duc Long, Director of Trang
An Landscape Complexs Management