KUCHING: A Unesco Geopark in the state is in the works in an effort to propel the state back on top as the country’s top tourism destination.
In view of the of the poor air connectivity which plagued the state’s tourism industry this year, Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said his ministry is currently working on various strategies to revive the state’s tourism industry.
He said the Geopark under Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) would be along Jalan Borneo Heights, Bau and Santubong.
“The Department of Mineral and Geoscience here is currently working on the dossier which will be submitted to Unesco for consideration.
“It’s halfway done and we can expect to submit it in the middle of next year so that Unesco can come to assess the areas,” he said at a press conference held at Sarawak Club on the reconstruction of James Brooke’s cottage at Mount Serembu.
Dawos mentioned if the application is approved, the state would be home to the second Geopark in Malaysia after the one in Langkawi and the third in South East Asia after the Dong Van Rock Highland Geopark in Vietnam.
According to Unesco’s website, a Geopark is a “territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archeological, ecological or cultural value”.
The deputy minister however added that the Geopark alone is not enough to increase tourist arrivals into the state.
“It’s (tourist arrival) not my problem, but it is a disappointment not only for Kuching but the whole of Sarawak.
“We don’t have direct flights from certain destinations outside Malaysia where we want these people to come,” he said.
Dawos explained that in order for the state to be a prime tourist destination such as Sabah and Langkawi, there must be direct international flights into the state.
“Sabah is now number one and Langkawi is number two because they have direct flights from international destinations. I would love to see Kuching have the same opportunity so that we can also be a tourist hub like Kota Kinabalu,” he said.