KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Tourists heading to Asia Pacific this coming summer can now follow the trail of seven new World Heritage Sites, following the latest official listing by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Quebec, Canada on Monday.
The sites in Asia Pacific listed are the Kuk Early Agriculture Site (Papua New Guinea), Chief Roi Mata’s Domain (Vanuatu), Preah Vihear Temple (Cambodia), Le Morne Cultural Landscape (Mauritius), Fujian Tulou and Mount Sanqingshan National Park (both in China).
George Town and Malacca join two other listed sites, Mulu Caves and Kinabalu National Park, as Malaysia’s new World Heritage Sites. The recognition marks the end of an almost 20-year odyssey, started in 1998 by Malaysia to have both sites listed by UNESCO.
Looking forward to the tourist spin-offs following listing of both cities, Shafie Apdal, Malaysia’s minister for culture, arts and heritage, said the hotel, transport and food industries in both sites will further thrive with the world recognition. “Some of our historical sites are around 400 years old, especially those in Malacca. This recognition can also dispel the notion that we live on trees, or Malaysia isn’t safe.”
Malaysia, according to Apdal, will be inviting foreign expertise to preserve George Town and Malacca. “It will be of value to experts conducting studies on history.”
Lim Guan Eng, chief minister of Penang, said a committee will be formed so the state can fulfill and comply with the “parameters” of a living heritage and cultural site, in addition to the expected surge in historical and heritage tourism.
“The challenge now, is to prevent heritage buildings from being left derelict, or modernized into glass boxes,” said Dr. Choong Sim Poey, president of Penang Heritage Trust.
In recognition of their listing status, the sites listed will now be eligible for financial assistance and expert advise from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites.