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Borneo, Sarawak, Sarawak Environment, Sarawak Tourism

Sarawak works to gain UNESCO geopark status for Kuching

EFFORTS are underway to gain UNESCO Geopark status for Kuching.

Research is being conducted by the Ministry of Tourism, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and the Geoscience Department in Kuching to identify the areas to be included in a report for the State Government.

Among the area’s being studied are the unique rock system found along Jalan Puncak Borneo in Padawan, Krokong and Santubong.

All these are believed to be over 130 million years old — part of the criteria for UNESCO Global Geopark status.

Now a geopark is a unified area with geological heritage of international significance, where that heritage is being used to promote the sustainable development of the local communities who live there.

According to UNESCO, while a geopark must demonstrate geological heritage of international significance, the purpose of a geopark is to explore, develop and celebrate the links between that geological heritage and all other aspects of the area’s natural, cultural and intangible heritages.

“It is about reconnecting human society at all levels to the planet we all call home and to celebrate how our planet and its 4,600 million year long history has shaped every aspect of our lives and our societies,” said the site.

What does Global Geopark status mean for Kuching?

“Once it gains geopark status, it will make the city well known to the world and registered under UNESCO,” explained Deputy Minister of Tourism Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit.

Currently Malaysia’s sole UNESCO Geopark is in Langkawi. Since it was endorsed as a UNESCO Geopark in 2007, Langkawi has been put on the global tourism map.

There is one other UNESCO Geopark in South East Asia — Vietnam’s Dong Van Rock Highland Geopark.

With the same recognition for Kuching, the State capital would be able to expect more foreign and local tourists.

Great stuff. All the best to those working on the submission. We hope to hear good news soon.

The Borneo Post’s report:

Research in progress to clinch UNESCO’s geopark status

KUCHING: Research is underway for the city to clinch Unesco’s geo-park status which will spring board the state’s tourism sector to national and global stage similar to Langkawi Island in Kedah.

According to Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos, a holistic research was being carried out headed by the Ministry of Tourism, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Kuching geo-science department to identify the areas and prepare a dossier for the state government.

“Once it gains geo-park status, it will make the city well known to the world and registered under Unesco,” revealed Dawos after the closing of Sarawak Homestay Entrepreneurship Workshop at the State Library yesterday.

Dawos pointed out that the unique rock system found along Jalan Borneo, Krokong and Santubong were believed to be more than 130 million years old, which is among the core to gain the geo-park status.

“Once the dossier is ready, it will be sent over to Unesco for evaluation.

“Once approved, Kuching will be given the status of a geo-park or we name it something different such as a Kuching Delta geo-park to be well known,” added the Mambong MP.

He then suggested that the state government identify more wetland, peat soil and mangrove forests and register it under the Ramsar convention.

He believed that the state had more wetlands, thus the ministry concerned should identify these places especially the mangrove forest in Kuala Lawas, which is home to the proboscis monkey and a regular place for sighting dolphins.

Touching on the homestay workshop, Dawos said that entrepreneurs should identify the niche attractions their surrounding areas offer to attract tourists.

“Just two weeks ago, I identified another site with the giant rafflesia growing. The place is roughly 10 minutes from Padawan Road and this could be one of the focal attractions to tourists,” said Dawos.

He said Sarawak under the ministry recorded a total of 27 homestays run by 408 operators offering 570 rooms.

“The number of homestays in Sarawak is the highest in Malaysia, generating a total of RM978,703.62 in 2011,” said Dawos adding that Malaysia had 146 homestays.

Numerous marketing and promotion strategies have to be carried out to boost the industry to be on par with other states such as Sabah which generated a total of RM 2.5million from 17,524 tourists in 2010, he added.

“In tourism, strategies ought to be new destinations and products, which we cannot produce everyday or every year,” said Dawos, adding that the ministry was zooming on community based tourism for locals, especially those living in the countryside.

The community based tourism said Dawos was like preparing a rejuvenation package which provides a getaway for those who wish to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Another way to boost tourism, according to Dawos was to rebrand terms such as ‘eco-tourism’ to ‘bio-tourism’ with the idea to create excitement and attract curious tourists especially from New Zealand.

He disclosed that the number of foreign tourists in Malaysia was 24.7million in 2011 and 24.6 million in 2010.

“It is not the little increase that is important but what the country earns from tourism,” said Dawos, adding that in 2010, the tourism sector manage to spin off a total of RM56.5billion while 2011 recorded RM58.3 billion.

He also said that by 2020, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is setting his sights to attract a total of 36million foreign tourists to generate an income of RM168 billion.

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