Thursday, July 10, 2008

Don’t expect windfall, Penangites warned

Penangites should not expect a financial windfall from Unesco with the listing of George Town as a world heritage site.

George Town Heritage Committee member Khoo Salma Nasution said the people should instead rely on their own initiatives.

Admiring the conservation work: Friends Teh Hui Ching (left) and Tan Soo Ching admiring fully restored pre-war heritage buildings at Nagore Road, Penang.

“The main benefit is that people are taking notice of us. The listing means that we will be included in Unesco's activities and while we may get some funds, I don’t think it will be substantive.

“Of course, now the Unity, Arts and Heritage Ministry will have a very good reason to allocate a bigger budget for Penang.

“This is a new beginning for the state.

Many Penangites are coming back to invest and restore the heritage buildings, so that is a good sign,” she said, adding that locals must “take advantage” of the listing to prevent the inner city from turning into a “foreigner's paradise” like Luang Prabang – a Unesco site in Laos.

Khoo noted that “wholesale” buying up of properties and businesses in the inner city should not be encouraged.

“Local businesses should be encouraged to start small and grow. Smart partnerships between hotels, private companies, NGOs and the government must be formed to take advantage of the listing. We definitely have a lot to do.

“We already have a management plan for George Town. Now we have to implement and communicate it to property owners, businesses and residents in the area because they are the primary stakeholders of the inner city,” she said, adding that Penangites should not be too “obsessed with tourist arrival figures” but attract quality long staying visitors.

She said this at the Lebuh Acheh heritage centre here yesterday. Also present were State Tourism, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman Danny Law and newly crowned Miss Asia World Tania Batatarjee.

“We can look forward to more domestic arrivals in the coming months,” Law said, adding that 20,000 heritage trail brochures have been printed for distribution.

Tania, 21, a British psychology student, described Penang as one of the most beautiful places in the world.

She will be visiting Malacca next.

Source : STAR
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