Thursday, July 04, 2013

Leisure corridor to Sarawak Cultural Village could make Kuching city more vibrant

KUCHING: Developing a leisure corridor stretching from the city to Sarawak Cultural Village could make the city more vibrant for the tourism industry.

This opinion was expressed by Professor Amran Hamzah, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Centre for Innovative Planning and Development director, and one of the authors of the dossier for Malacca and George Town’s inscription on Unesco’s World Heritage Site List.

He said this on the second day of the Global Tourism Cities Conference (GTCC) 2013 in response to a question from a delegate on how Kuching could have its vibrancy as a tourism destination increased seeing that it did not seem to have made as much headway as Malacca and Penang despite similarities in size, history and old world charm.

Amran said the trend of building shopping malls on the outskirts of the city had caused residents to move away from the city centre, rather than into it. He felt the city had lost some vibrancy due to local patronage being directed outwards.

He highlighted the limited variety in tourist attractions and the disappearance of specialty shops such as those with the Unesco seal of excellence for crafts; adding that it would be difficult for specialty shops to survive on domestic tourists alone as they appeared more interested in things like kek lapis, tikar and boat rides across the river.

“I think we should develop Kuching as a leisure corridor right up to Sarawak Cultural Village. A lot of revitalisation is needed – you have to spread out the attractions so they won’t be concentrated in Kuching only.

“Pantai Damai needs revitalisation. There should be a real touch of urban leisure to increase variety,” he said.

Noting the difficulty and high cost of conserving historical buildings in Malaysia, Amran said it was important to identify the iconic value of a place to bring in investors, and that the state government should take the lead
to turn historic buildings into iconic tourism places, enlist community support, and get investors to finance these initiatives.