NAKHON SI THAMMARAT, 16 September 2016: Thailand’s tourism officials are confident Phra Mahathat Woramahawiharn Temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat province will one day soon gain UNESCO World Heritage listing.
The country’s Ministry of Culture preparing documents to complete the process that will ultimately include the Buddhist temple on the list for UNESCO World Heritage consideration.
Currently, the ministry is compiling English language documents and if they are completed in time the process will move to the next stage, which includes officially filing the temple on a list for consideration at the next UNESCO annual general meeting in 2017.
The temple is considered one of the most important South Thailand attracting Chinese and Malaysian tourists. Some foreigners take their children to be ordained at the temple during the annual school break.
According to the Nakhon Si Thammarat’s chronicle, the main stupa of the temple, called Phra Borommathat Chedi, literally, the Great Noble Relics Stupa, was built during the early 13th century CE.
The focal point of this temple is the famous Sri Lankan style pagoda. It is the symbol of the province and features on the nation’s 25 satang coin.
The spire is covered in gold leaf, which deflects sunlight in a wide arc that diminishes the structure’s shadow. Devotees sometimes calls the pagoda the “Shadowless Pagoda”.
TAT Nakhon Si Thammarat office director, Ladawan Chuychart, told TTR Weekly that recognition of the temple would help to position the temple as a dream destination for religious tourists and pilgrims.
“Buddhist residents in Malaysia are very loyal to this key temple particularly in February, April and October when they travel in their hundreds to worship at the temple.”
Thai tourists also play a major role visiting the province representing 80% of all travellers with the balance made up of Malaysian, European predominantly Scandinavians.
She added: “The hidden gems campaign helps to boost tourism to secondary destinations and spread out travellers from major destinations, for example, in the south travellers always pack in Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Surat Thani including Tao and Phang Ngan islands.”
TAT plans to balance number of visitors by encouraging travel to secondary destinations. It will increase tourist spending.
“We believe secondary destinations will appeal to the silver generation, couples who have no children, seniors, and retirees and we intend to promote travel on weekdays,” the director explained.
Besides culture, next year the office will promote Khanom and Sichon beaches and Khao Luang National Park to the European and Scandinavian markets, she said.
Last year, the province attracted around 3.4 million visitors both Thais and foreigners generating over THB13,000 million in revenue, the director added.