The Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office in Bangkok have signed an agreement to strengthen their partnership in promoting world heritage conservation and education. Chief of Culture Unit of UNESCO Bangkok office Dr. Feng Jing and IFTM President Dr. Fanny Vong were present in a virtual ceremony on 15 September 2023.
The agreement reaffirms the commitment of both parties to further promote and update the content of the Cultural Heritage Specialist Guide Training and Certification Programme for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, developed by IFTM experts in collaboration with UNESCO Office in Bangkok, and launched in 2005. The programme aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of tour guides who operate in world heritage sites across the Asia-Pacific region, and to raise public awareness of the importance of preserving and respecting the universal values of these sites. The programme was recognised by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session in 2007 as “a best-practice example of integrating heritage conservation and sustainable development for the benefit of local communities”. Organised by UNESCO, IFTM experts have been providing consultancy and training to Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mainland China and Macao SAR.
The programme consists of a core module and a country-specific module, so that participants acquire not just essential knowledge about the significance and protection of world heritage but also understand the universal values of their own country’s heritage. Dr. Feng Jing acknowledged IFTM’s efforts in fostering sustainable tourism development in the region and Macao SAR, in particular, where IFTM continues to be a trailblazer through ongoing efforts to deliver the “UNESCO Cultural Heritage Specialist Guide” training for 18 years since the collaboration started.
To date, IFTM has trained 142 Cultural Heritage Specialist Guides for Macao. They are able to offer quality and accurate interpretation of Macao’s world heritage, providing visitors a personalised and enriched learning experience when appreciating the universal significance and value of the city’s heritage.