chapter  1
Human rights and World Heritage: preserving our common dignity through rights- based approaches to site management
ByStener Ekern, William Logan, Birgitte Sauge and Amund Sinding- Larsen
Pages 13

Luang Prabang is a beautiful town in the mountains of northern Laos; once a royal capital, it is now a World Heritage site inscribed for its fusion of traditional Lao and colonial French buildings. As a result, it is now a leading tourism magnet in Southeast Asia. Some observers, however, have identified problems in the town in terms of the retention of its tangible and intangible cultural heritage. According to Berliner (2012) the site is being ‘UNESCO-ised’ and turned into a ‘nostalgia-land’. Clearly the traditional Lao elements are dwindling as the Lao population moves to suburban areas outside the site and the Buddhist monk communities are left stranded in their monastic compounds. Dearborn and Stallmeyer (2010) attribute much of this to tourism, the Lao houses being converted into tourist guest houses and the monks’ early morning ritual of alms collection into a tourist photo shoot. Winter (2010) sees this combination of heritage and entertainment continuing and indeed fast becoming a feature of World Heritage regions across Asia, and he notes that the tourist and the tourism development entrepreneur will not be white and Western, but domestic or regional.