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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Vat Phou needs room to display 2,000 artefacts

The exhibition hall at the World Heritage Site of Vat Phou in Champassak province is unable to display some 2,000 artefacts due to a lack of space, the Director of the Vat Phou Heritage Office, Mr Khankham Kaenboutta, said on Tuesday.

The artefacts remain in storage because there is no display space left in hall, he said.

The exhibition hall is used to display archaeological remains found within the World Heritage site.

“This year we hope to build more rooms in the hall so that we can exhibit some of the most significant historic materials that are now in storage,” Mr Khankham said.

Vat Phou has received donations from visitors for this purpose, after they learned of the shortage of space when they visited the site.

Last year more than 50,000 visitors came to Vat Phou and it is expected that the number will increase to 70,000 this year.

Currently the only direct revenue generated by the site is from the entrance fees to the temple complex and exhibition hall: 30,000 kip for foreigners and 3,000 kip for Lao people.

Fifty percent of the revenue goes to the central government and the remaining 50 percent is used for site management.

The goal of the local government is to retain 90 percent for preservation of the site and to hand over the remaining 10 percent to the central government.

The French government will provide around 1 million euros from its Fonds de Solidarite Prioritaire (Priority Solidarity Fund) from 2007-10, in support of three activities carried out under the Vat Phou development project.

The first of these is a field study to identify how best to improve the site for tourism. The second is to improve infrastructure around the heritage site to assist better visitor management, and the final stage will be the training of personnel in conservation and site management.

This month the Italian government provided US$25,000 to Vat Phou officials for maintenance of the complex.

To reach Vat Phou, most visitors travel south from Pakxe on Route 13, turning right at a small village known as Kilometre 35 or Laksamsipha, and travel another 3 kilometres to reach the banks of the Mekong .

They then take a ferry at Muang village in Pathoumphon district, which takes them to the small town of Champassak on the other side, about 12 kilometres from the temple site.

The exhibition hall, funded by the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, was built just inside the main gate of the temple complex in 2003.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao

(Latest Update January 10, 2007)

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