MIRI: Sarawak is investing in physical and digital infrastructures to tap into the benefits of advanced technology and transition to digital tourism which will lead to opening up of many job opportunities and generating new revenue streams.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this in his speech read out by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah at the International Conference on Archaeology 2019: Promoting Archaeology As Heritage Tourism in a hotel here yesterday.
“Tourism-related businesses are transforming themselves to stay relevant and enhance their competitive standards,” he said.
He added that this focus on digital and information technology is a powerful catalyst to economic growth and potentially creating more business opportunities which benefit the tourism industry.
Digital tourism is part of the strategies and initiatives to boost the industry, promoting Sarawak as a must-visit destination in Malaysia while providing memorable experience to different visitors to attract them for return visits, he pointed out.
In welcoming the delegates to the international conference, he said while heritage tourism brings positive and rewarding economic benefits, sustainable and sound management of the resources is imperative.
“The invaluable historical and cultural heritage tells us about past human activities and thus, also reflects a nation’s civilisation. Therefore, protection and preservation of these heritage assets are a priority and Sarawak is committed to this,” he stressed.
The conference attracted 200 participants from Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei and Australia besides local participants. It featured 18 speakers from seven countries presenting their latest research works.
It provides a platform for participants to meet and engage with experts through debates and discussions on relevant topics, to share thoughts and knowledge on the latest developments and issues in the world of archaeology.
Abang Johari pointed out that technological advances have corrected the wrong categorisation of the identity of the Niah deep skull from young male to female adult, which was first discovered in 1958 that first shone the light on primitive human civilisation in Niah Cave 65,000 years ago.
Meanwhile, federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Mohammad Ketapi, who was represented by Saraya Arbi, deputy secretary-general of the ministry, said the federal government is committed to supporting the state’s aspiration for Niah National Park to be designated as a World Heritage site soon.
He called on all authorities at state and federal level and professional experts to work together to realise this mission.
He said the government must strike a right balance between development of wonder lifestyle and conservation of its heritage, giving tourists the experience of the contrast and diversity while appreciating the value, history and stories that shaped the co-existence.
He said Malaysia is fortunate to have many archaeological sites, monuments and historical buildings which appeals to tourists due to its unique geographical and historical background which provide an interesting archeo-tourism landscape that can be sustained and developed.
He said several heritage sites across the country, including those in Sarawak, were yet to be gazetted but eight had been completed and recognised prior to 2015.
Meanwhile, two memorandums of understanding were signed by Sarawak Museum with Griffith University of Australia and French School of Asian Studies ( Ecole Francaise d Extreme-Orient (EFEO).
Acting director Suria Bujang signed for Sarawak Museum while Professor Paul Tacon and Christope Marquet signed for Griffith University and EFEO respectively.
Griffith University will focus on new archaeological and rock art research including rock art dating, conservation and management while the collaboration with EFEO will be on the ancient settlement sites of Sarawak River Delta.
Also present was Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Sebastian Ting.