GEORGE TOWN: Langkawi needs to ensure that the lessons it has learned about sustainability from attaining the Unesco Global Geopark status twice since, is continuously practised and imparted to the majority of residents and travel trade members and the strategic guidelines tied to the “status”, be used to help the resort island adopt meaningful sustainable tourism practices.
This was highlighted by academician, Datuk Kamarulzaman Abdul Ghani, the person behind Langkawi’s Unesco Global Geopark status, attained in 2007. Back then, Kamarulzaman was general manager of the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada).
Kamarulzaman said that sustainable practices of keeping in symbiosis with nature and conceiving fresh measures to preserve the ecology, especially the geology of Langkawi, need to be put into effect now. “It should coincide with next year’s Visit Malaysia 2020 tourism campaign,“ he said.
Although community involvement has been encouraging, he calls for more effort and cites that as the ‘status’ helps promote knowledge-base tourism, “the community here must embrace and observe the guidelines in maintaining the Geopark status”, especially with more than 30 geosites in Langkawi and three geoforest parks, namely Machinchang, Kilim and Dayang Bunting.
“It should be a culture among the locals and villagers, civil service and the private sector, for easier inculcation of sustainable practices, which are vital in an age where there is dire warning about climate change,“ said Kamarulzaman, who also founded “Friends of Langkawi Geopark to promote awareness on the ‘status’ among the private sector.
Re-validation to maintain the ‘status’ is done once every three years following stringent guidelines imposed by the Unesco Global Geopark network. While Langkawi has managed to pass two re-evaluation tests and keep its Unesco Global Geopark status in 2011 and 2015, two Unesco inspectors from Europe, Sigurour Sigursveinsson and Dr Kirstin Lemon, have recently left the resort island and with a good impression.
The Lada has just undergone a re-validation exercise. Prospects for the resort island to be accorded Unesco Global Geopark status for the third time remain positive.