Most of the locals don’t live in Luang Prabang anymore. They began an exodus from Laos’ seeming Shangri-La after their hometown was listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and sold itself wholesale to tourism.
It’s not an uncommon pattern at some of the 1,031 sites worldwide designated as places of “outstanding universal value” by the U.N. cultural agency: The international branding sparks mass tourism, residents move out as prices escalate or grab at new business opportunities, hastening the loss of their hometown’s authentic character to hyper-commercialization. But locals may also prosper and some moribund communities are injected with renewed energy.
Read the full article: UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the Downside of Cultural Tourism – Skift