Department Director-General Anan Chuchot said that the Fine Arts Department is working with Phuket officials to present the application.
“We are preparing the documents to present Phuket Old Town to be listed in the Tentative list next year,” Mr Anan said.
Mr Anan explained that for the application Phuket Old Town was defined as the area comprising Rassada Rd, Phang Nga Rd, Yaowarat Rd, Krabi Rd, Dibuk Rd and Thalang Rd.
“The area is full of houses in Sino-Portuguese style, which is a good combination of Western and Eastern styles,” he said.
“I have talked with the Phuket Governor and other officials to work on presenting the application,” Mr Anan added.
He also noted, “There are people still living in the Phuket Old Town area who match one of the criteria for the area being recognised as a World Heritage City.”
For the Organization of World Heritage Cities to recognise a city as worthy of World Hertigae status, it must “be the location of a living urban fabric of historic or contemporary interest”.
Further, the city must have “its outstanding universal value has been recognized by the UNESCO and therefore has been registered in the World Heritage List.”
Meanwhile, among the criteria for a locale to included on the World Heritage List is that the proposed area “exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design” or “to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”.
The initiative to have Phket Old Town recognised by Unesco has been underway for more than a decade, with Prof Yukio Nishimura, urban planner and Vice-President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), whose functions include evaluation of World Heritage sites, visiting Phuket Town in 2011. (See story here.)
However, the dream of World Heritage status has yet to become reality.
Mr Anan explained to the national press, “Phuket Old Town was born out of the prosperity of the tin mining industry and has today become a popular tourist attraction.”
Mr Anan announcing the latest push for Phuket Town to be bestowed World Heritage status follows CNN Travel naming Phuket Town as one of “13 of Asia's most picturesque towns” in a report late last month.
“The historic old quarter of Phuket Town, located in the center of the island, is lined with Sino-Colonial style shophouses, built during the island's tin-mining boom of the 18th and 19th centuries,” CNN Travel reported.
“There are plenty of hip shops, cafés, restaurants and bars, including the batik shops along Thalang Road run by ethnic Malays and Indians. The area is also filled with Chinese temples, crumbling mansions, cultural museums and a nunnery,” it added. (See story here.)