Niah cave complex in World Heritage Lists ongoing

Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Abdul Rahman

KUCHING: The  archaeological heritage of Niah National Park’s cave complex is expected to be inscribed in the World Heritage Lists by 2024.

Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said currently, the process of inscribing the site as a world heritage site is still ongoing.

“The final refined dossier has been submitted to UNESCO on January 30,” he said when delivering his ministerial winding-up speech at the DUN yesterday (May 23).

He said to reinforce the process, the construction of a bridge and buggy trail project to the main cave is under implementation, coupled with ongoing marketing, promotions, and capacity building programmes for local communities.

“Additionally, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has also developed eco-conservation products in various national parks and nature reserves.

“In 2022, these eco-conservation products have attracted an encouraging number of participants, with frogging and night-walk activities as the most popular among participants,” he said.

In line with the Post-COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 goals, he said his Ministry is also finding ways to ensure that Sarawak tourism capacity is more sustainable and resilient after being hit hard by the pandemic.

‘My Ministry is actively building partnerships with various international bodies, agencies and institutions to effect the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which Malaysia is a signatory.

“In tandem with the Sarawak Economic Action Council (SEAC) Tourism Aspiration, by 2023, Sarawak will be a leading destination for eco-tourism and business events in ASEAN region driven by empowered communities to conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity and to promote investments and development through responsible actions,” he said.

He added the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) has conducted several responsible tourism programmes among the local community especially those directly involved in the tourism sector, specifically the homestay operators whereby they were taught to recycle plastic waste into useful household items.

“These include the making of soap from used cooking oil. In practising recycling, the homestay operators are promoting sustainable tourism practices which preserve the environment around their village and community,” he said.

He added STB will continue to collaborate with the local tourism community to advocate SDGs as outlined by World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

“STB is also intensifying the practice of Responsible Tourism in the upcoming Rainforest World Music Festival 2023 with the implementation of various measures to ensure a sustainable and eco-friendly festival.

“Among them are activities which advocate sustainability including banning single use plastics, encouraging up-cycling of used materials and exploring innovative solutions to waste management,” said Abdul Karim.