Thursday, April 9

Tourism Ministry mulls turning part of state capital into heritage site

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KUCHING: The Ministry of Tourism will set up a panel of heritage experts to turn a corridor in the old Kuching quarters into a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said his ministry had identified a stretch starting from Padungan to the Sarawak Museum as the potential corridor.

“Listing these areas as a Unesco World Heritage site will take a considerable amount of time. We are however fortunate that these areas comply with all the criteria set by Unesco,” said Abang Johari at a press conference during a welfare visit at Kampung Masjid yesterday.

He also said the ministry would be looking at two heritage sites in Vietnam and Pulau Pinang as models for the Kuching heritage corridor.

Once listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, the maintenance of the old shophouses and other sites of interests would be borne by Unesco. Abang Johari who is also Satok state assemblyman added that the volume of tourists arrival in Sarawak from Jan to March this year increased by six per cent compared to the same period in 2013.

“We have recorded 1.13 million tourists from Jan to March this year. Forty per cent are domestic tourists while the remaining 60 per cent are international tourists,” he added.

He also said that the increase was mainly due to the influx of Indonesian tourists flocking to Sarawak for medical treatment which boosted the state’s health tourism industry.

On another issue, he also reminded the people to be more civic minded and not vandalise the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 signboard which faced the Kuching waterfront.

“I have noted that there are certain ‘naughty’ individuals who vandalise the aluminium signboard for reasons only known to themselves. This should not happen as the signboard brings benefit to the people as well as the tourism industry,” he added. To deter these vandals the minister said the state government was mulling installing CCTVs in the area.