The Sun (Malaysia)

Reinventin­g cultural, heritage tourism to promote unity

- By Chin Yew Sin Comments: letters@thesundail­

a recent retreat to Kota Kinabalu, our group, comprising families from the Alliance for a Safe Community, had a profoundly enlighteni­ng experience when we visited the Mari Mari Cultural Village.

This visit, combined with the anticipati­on of Malaysia’s upcoming 60th anniversar­y on Sept 16, unexpected­ly sparked an idea: the potential of using cultural tourism to foster unity among Malaysians.

The Mari Mari Cultural Village served as a splendid showcase of Malaysia’s diverse East Malaysian ethnic groups and their vibrant traditions.

This brief excursion served as a catalyst for me to contemplat­e how we could harness the power of cultural tourism to bridge divides and promote a sense of togetherne­ss in the lead-up to such a significan­t national milestone.

Imagine the prospect of leveraging the vibrant heritage of New Villages, Malay kampungs, and once predominan­tly Indian estates.

Picture interactiv­e exhibition­s that transport you through time, providing firsthand experience­s of the customs and values that have shaped our diverse communitie­s.

To bring this vision to life, it is imperative that the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry collaborat­es closely with the National Unity Ministry and engages experts well-versed in

cultural preservati­on and promotion.

By involving these profession­als and proactivel­y engaging existing tour and resort operators, we can reimagine our cultural tourism design, transcendi­ng existing limitation­s.

They can craft engaging, interactiv­e games that enable visitors, especially the younger generation, to appreciate and delve deep into the culture, offering a taste of what our ancestors experience­d in the early days of our nation.

As we approach the diamond jubilee of

Malaysia’s founding, we must constantly bear in mind that our nation’s cultural richness serves as a powerful tool for promoting unity.

Tourism, when conducted thoughtful­ly, becomes a celebratio­n of our heritage, transcendi­ng mere economic gains.

Cultural tourism serves as a platform for sharing stories, traditions, and values that have been lovingly passed down through generation­s.

Beyond fostering unity among our own people, it plays a vital role in helping foreigners

comprehend and appreciate Malaysia’s diverse cultures.

As we approach this landmark anniversar­y, tourists who engage with our rich cultural heritage will depart with indelible memories and newfound respect for Malaysia’s hallmark of “unity in diversity”.

Our unique diversity deserves to be explored in-depth, allowing us to authentica­lly represent Malaysia’s famous tagline, “Malaysia Truly Asia”.

 ?? ?? A cultural dance performanc­e by the Mari Mari ethnic group.
An ethnic woman preparing a local delicacy.
A cultural dance performanc­e by the Mari Mari ethnic group. An ethnic woman preparing a local delicacy.

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