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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cultural Tourism: Why Conservation Matters

BORNEO HORNBILL FESTIVAL Winners 2@MALAYSIA TOURISM CENTER
Cultural heritage and natural heritage are increasingly threatened with destruction, not only by the traditional causes of decay, but also by changing social and economic conditions. The deterioration or disappearance of cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world.”
World Heritage Convention UNESCO 1972

Malaysia’s heritage is a unique expression of our history and our national identity. It enriches our lives, and provides a meaningful foundation on which to base our future national development.

Yet in many places, our precious heritage is under threat from new developments - often through lack of awareness of its historical and architectural significance.

Conservation however, makes sound economic sense and pays major economic dividends. Benefits include:

• Greatly increased tourism
• Greatly increased income
• Greatly increased employment
• International prestige

The revenue generated form tourism can be far more than what could be generated by alternative land uses that may threaten our nation’s heritage. Conservation and heritage are two sides of the same coin – it will attract tourists, and the economic spin-offs will encourage and finance conservation.

The benefits of increased tourism to hotels and resorts, F&B outlets, travel agents and transport service providers are obvious. But conservation is not just a way to lure tourists. Its impact is far deeper, far more widespread, and far more important and cultural tourism must really benefit the local community, not just the transient visitor. It must create opportunities for developing a vast array of (preferably locally-manufactured) merchandise, capitalising on (and reinforcing) the heritage image of the heritage of the nation. It should encourage the revitalisation of a host of conservation-related trades and industries (such as tile-making, carpentry, ironmongery, sign-making, decorative plasterwork etc), all of them sustainable long-term.

Conservation should also provide a vision for the traditional communities who live and interact with their environment. Conservation restores cultural pride; it preserves the local community, with its unique traditions, in its unique environment.

In short. conservation is about making the past serve the future. About social and economic growth. About building a healthy and prosperous community.

In the effort for heritage conservation, retaining authenticity is vital. Inappropriate restoration, or the artificial creation or new ‘heritage’ attractions, will dilute the cultural and social values and this in turn will not encourage long term sustained tourism.

In Malaysia, cultural tourism should be a result of our unique multi-cultural society, cultural practices and built heritage, not the reason behind conservation.

Our heritage if lost, is lost forever.

source:www.badanwarisan.org.my

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