Transitions : Tourism's Double-Edged Sword
Luang Prabang, Laos (2006)
The ancient town of Luang Prabang in Laos is at a crossroads. Named a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1995, the strict guidelines on construction, renovation and restoration have helped preserve the city’s nostalgic façade. However, the problem it faces today is like any other place stamped with this approval - saving the place from modern development for tourists to appreciate but in doing so losing much of its authenticity and character.
This transition couldn’t be more visible in the life of the Buddhist monks. The very peace that attracts visitors here is slowly taken away from them while tourist numbers rapidly increase each year. There is less time for meditation and peace. Other ideologies are discussed and new technology is embraced. The East melds with the West in every aspect. These transformations in the cultural landscape may well be a turning point in a town where tourism is the only major source of income.